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Chinese buyers think Apple’s new trade-in program might be lowballing them

With its enormous population and expanding middle class, Apple has long known that China presents a huge opportunity for the company. Indeed, with sales of its goods on the rise there, it is soon expected to replace the U.S. as Apple’s biggest market.

Updated on 04-01-2015 by Christian Bautista: Added news about the launch and iPhone trade-in estimates.

In a strategic move geared towards making this happen sooner rather than later, the tech firm officially rolled out its iPhone and iPad trade-in program earlier today. The scheme, which helped drive up sales of the company’s hugely successful smartphone when it was first offered to U.S. consumers in 2013, was launched in 18 shops around China.

Related: Apple’s perfectly executed iPhone 6 launch in China sees it smash the competition

The program allows consumers to take their old iPhone or iPad to an Apple Store where a staff member assesses its condition and offers the appropriate amount of store credit in exchange. It is still not clear if the Cupertino company would make Android phones part of the program.

Early reports indicate that Chinese users have been disappointed by Apple’s trade-in appraisals. According to a report from Sina, prospective buyers were surprised by the low estimates for their devices. One woman was shocked that her iPhone 4 only had a trade-in value of 250 yuan (around $41). The salesperson justified the estimate by saying that the iPhone 4S was only worth 500 yuan (about $82). A reporter also said that a relatively new iPhone 5S only fetched 1500 yuan ($245).

According to an earlier report from Bloomberg, Apple is working with Foxconn to run the program in China. The firm, which already assembles many Apple products, would refurbish the old iPhones before reselling them via various online stores. Offering older but cheaper iPhones would enable Apple to reach even more consumers in China, introducing them to the iOS ecosystem in a move that could ultimately lead to purchases of other Apple products in the future.

Related: Man tries to smuggle 94 iPhones into China by strapping them to his body

To further expand its presence in China, Apple is also planning to double the number of its brick-and-mortar stores by the middle of 2016, a move likely to boost profits even more. Unprecedented demand for the iPhone following the release of the latest version in September helped generate a record profit of $18 billion for the Cupertino company in the final three months of last year.

With the expected launch of its iPhone trade-in program and the opening of new stores across the country, Apple is clearly determined to make the most of its growing popularity in China as it edges toward becoming the company’s number one market.