SHANGHAI - Apple Inc's next-generation iPhone has not even been released yet, but opportunistic sellers on China's largest e-commerce platform, Taobao, are already accepting pre-orders, complete with mock-up pictures and purported technical specifications.

The hotly anticipated iPhone 5 is widely expected to be released sometime between August and October this year, although Apple itself has been tight-lipped about it. Sources have said the iPhone 5 would have a bigger screen than previous models, while Taiwanese media reported the phone's voice recognition software, Siri, would have more powerful functions.

Sellers on Taobao, a unit of Alibaba Group, are accepting orders for the iPhone 5, in some cases asking for a deposit of 1,000 yuan ($160) for the new phone. One seller, "Dahai99888", who started accepting pre-orders this week, is asking for full payment upfront, at a cool 6,999 yuan ($1,100).

Taobao sellers that Reuters spoke with said they planned to buy the iPhone 5 in Hong Kong or the United States and then bring it to mainland China. Apple products are often available in Hong Kong before they are released on the mainland.

The sellers could not promise a specific delivery time.

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