Beijing's Chant: "iPhone! iPhone!"

China Unicom may have gotten a bad rap for its lackluster iPhone announcement this week, but its launch upstaged the event at the Apple (AAPL) store.

The iPhone did, in fact, draw a crowd today, despite a rare rainstorm that had streets jammed in Beijing. At China Unicom’s outdoor event, several hundred people lined up to be first to buy the phone. Several said they’d held out for years to buy it because they worried there would be quality problems if they purchased gray-market iPhones.

“The price is a little high, but we don’t care,” said one woman who lined up for over an hour to buy a 16-gigabyte iPhone with her boyfriend, who was shivering in the cold. “I don’t really care about that function,” said Zhang Yuan, a sales assistant for a distribution company who was also standing in line, referring to the Unicom iPhone’s lack of Wi-Fi.

Long rows of computers were set up to process all of the iPhone purchases.

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