iPhone 13Source: Apple Inc.More Chinese consumers are rushing to order Apple’s latest iPhone now than last year, according to a South China Morning Post report published Thursday.More than 2 million pre-orders have been placed for the iPhone 13 through Apple’s official store on Chinese online retailer JD.com, the paper reported. That’s compared to last year’s 1.5 million pre-orders of the iPhone 12 on the site, it added. The South China Morning Post also reported that consumer interest appears high on Alibaba’s Tmall platform, which starts pre-orders Friday.China remains one of Apple’s most important markets, and any signs of sales growth there will be important going into holiday quarter. It’s also a signal that there’s still strong interest in the iPhone 13, despite the fact that it’s a relatively small upgrade over last year’s model.Apple unveiled its latest iPhone at a virtual event on Tuesday. The iPhone 13 has a smaller display cutout, or “notch,” at the top of the screen, as well as larger batteries that provide the devices with between 1.5 and 2.5 more hours of battery life than last year’s models, depending on device size, Apple said.Its camera modules are also now arranged diagonally. Otherwise, the new model doesn’t have a vastly different outward appearance.Investors haven’t appeared to be swayed by Tuesday’s event. The company’s stock is relatively flat for the week.The South China Morning Post pointed toward weak competition in China as one of the factors boosting pre-orders. The paper said Apple’s competitor in China, Huawei, has continued to struggle under trade sanctions and hasn’t produced a similar premium phone.Read the full South China Morning Post report here.Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.