Every time I go to Shenzhen, the Yuanwang Digital Mall is a must see. Heading down to the heart of HuaQiangBei, which is Shenzhen’s computer market district. If you’ve been to computer markets in the past, I promise you won’t have seen anything like this computer market as you’ll find a large chunk of the bulk buying of Smartphones for China.
If you’re familiar with Chinese computer markets, the rows of tightly packed shops, smokers and a general consensus that the floor is an ashtray/garbage won’t surprise. One thing that got me about my first visit was the packaging of iPhones, replacing battery stickers out in the open and the pallets of smartphone whizzing down the tight alley’s. When you see you’re first stack of iPads float past being wielded by a man with a cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth, one this is certain: You’re not in Kansas any more.
I took a ton of photos on my last few trips to the market and last week I did a walk through with an iPhone 6+ to give you a taste of what it’s like inside. We may have done walk through’s like this before, but I didn’t get a far with a big bulk camera. Filming on a mobile phone is a lot less intrusive. Having said that…I’m still asked to stop filming.
There are a lot of mobile phones hanging around, but what makes this electronics market a little different is that it sells components, LCDs, batteries, buttons, housings, etc. You’ll also find a few repair shops along the edges who focus on refurbishing handsets for resale. Usually I don’t mind saving a few bucks on refurbished handsets but when you see some people peeling off used stickers on batteries and replacing them with official branded stickers you have to wonder how safe all of this stuff is.
One thing that you won’t be able to tell from the photos is just how bad the air was, you can see a lot of booths have fans clipped on to help the air move around, but you have to wonder what that does against the bevy of chain smokers in this windowless building.
One other thing you’ll notice is that most phones are being repackaged. That’s because they’ve made it into Shenzhen through less than official channels. Many devices are hand carried across, this is done to avoid the import duty. It’s hard to know if you’re seeing new devices being repackaged or refurbished devices head into the new boxes.
I can still remember being dumb struck the first time I saw someone shrink wrapping iPhones with a hairdryer. it’s unreal the things you come across in this market.
The reason I always take the time to swing by the Yuan Wang Digital Mall on my trips to Shenzhen is that it really gives you a sense of what types of phones are being sold in China right now. What are the popular handsets that they’re looking to move and this trip I was surprised to see that Honor was showing up quite a bit. There were stacks of the requisite iPhones, Samsung Galaxy S6/Note4 and Xiaomi handsets, however it looks like Honor is gaining some traction.
So what do you think? Is the Yuan Wang Digital Mall a unique find in terms of computer markets? I’ll be putting out a few more stories like this over the next few weeks, so be sure to follow me on Twitter or Google+.