Culture

This iPhone is meant for your dead relatives

Oct 11, 2018

Hope the cell signal in the afterlife is good because your dead relatives will need it for their iPhones.

Every year, millions of Chinese people burn replicas of paper money during Qingming, the tomb-sweeping festival, believing the money will reach their ancestors in the heavens.

It’s not all they burn. Paper models of real-life items such as clothes and cars, as well as luxury items like brand-name bags and Apple products, are also incinerated. The belief is that people still enjoy the trappings of the real world, even when they’re dead.

Naturally, paper makers are keeping their stock up-to-date. On Taobao, China’s Amazon, you can order uncanny facsimiles of the iPhone X. They even come in colors that match Apple’s seasonal catalog.

An assortment of paper iPhone X models.
An assortment of paper iPhone X models. / Photo: Taobao

(Read more: How Chinese people appease the dead)

And to go with their new iPhone, maybe your ancestors will want an Apple Watch, too. This gift set thoughtfully includes a watch, iTunes gift cards and a SIM card. Two pretty old iPod Shuffles are also inexplicably in the mix.

An Apple “gift set.”
An Apple “gift set.” / Photo: Taobao

It appears the paper iPhone has been in demand for years, with models going back to the iPhone 4.

An advertisement for a paper iPhone 4.
An advertisement for a paper iPhone 4. / Photo: Taobao

As China remains one of Apple’s biggest markets, we can probably expect paper iPhones to keep up with the latest releases each year.

That is, unless Apple pulls a Gucci. In 2016, the Italian luxury goods maker sent warning letters to paper makers in Hong Kong, warning them to stop using its logo on paper models for burning.

The company later apologized after people expressed outrage over cultural insensitivity. Gucci said it didn’t mean to offend or undermine traditional funeral rites.