iPhone 4 sells out in China

China Unicom has confirmed that its current stock of iPhone 4 handsets is “currently insufficient” to meet user demand.

As of early Saturday, China Unicom had processed over 200,000 iPhone 4 pre-orders, with at least 40,000 receiving the device, along with a bundled mobile service plan.

However, the carrier emphasized that it planned to boost supplies of the popular device as “quickly” as possible.

Meanwhile, Owen Fletcher of MarketWatch noted that the latest iteration of Apple’s popular smartphone was “widely awaited” in China – and could help the carrier lure more users to its optimized, third-gen mobile services.

And as Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt points out, sales were bolstered by the fact that the iPhone 4 wasn’t crippled like last year’s 3GS model – which at the request of (an overbearing) Beijing – was manufactured without a Wi-Fi receiver.

“Last November, when Apple first starting selling the iPhone in China, analysts termed the launch a disappointment. The queues of customers were underwhelming and after four days of sales, China Unicom (CHU) had reportedly managed to sign up only 5,000 subscribers,” wrote DeWitt.

“[But] what a difference a year makes. [Of course], the [iPhone 4’s] price is a little better too. A contract-free 32GB iPhone 3GS sold for $1,033 last year. This year’s 32GB iPhone 4 retails for 5,999 yuan ($905) without a contract, [while] the 16GB model goes for 4,999 yuan ($754).”