You’d think one of the top-rated smartphones by Consumer Reports would become a smash hit in tech-crazy South Korea where people don’t settle for anything less but the very greatest gadgets. Heck, even Hong Kong shoppers turned to South Korea because pre-orders in their home country sold out in ten minutes. But according to Korea Times, local carriers SK Telecom and KT are struggling to hit the promised sales target agreed with Apple.

They apparently sold below 150,000 pre-orders since the device hit South Korea November 4. The story came from the mouth of an unnamed SK Telecom executive and a 31-year-old iPhone 4 user who dropped a planned iPhone 4S purchase due to “hardware-related issues”.

Seriously? Didn’t we establish battery woes as software-driven? The report cites other woes such as noises during 3G-based calls and while operating video functions. Let’s be honest here, iPhone 4S does have its share of teething problems, just like any other Apple product. But the South Koreans appear to be really freaking out over a lack of 4G LTE:

The rising appetite for LTE smartphones in South Korea replaces any desire for the Apple iPhone 4S, officials and experts said.

4G LTE has hit the ground running in the country. Carriers SK Telecom and LG Uplus sold over 500,000 pricey LTE plans since late-September introduction. The Korea Communications Commission expects the number of LTE phone users in the country to top 1.5 million by the year’s end. Not having support for 4G LTE radio technology on the iconic device in the 48 million people market that is leading the world in Internet speeds and is defined by the demanding, tech-savvy consumers? Yeah, this can lead to some friction.

Besides, Siri doesn’t speak Korean (yet) and South Korea is also Samsung’s home turf. And it’s not like iPhone 4S users in some other markets aren’t feeling buyer’s remorse. Us? Forget the handset, it’ll be old news by the next summer anyway. What matters is that with the iPhone 4S came Siri, an exclusive feature deemed a world-changing event, and rightfully if we may add.

Apple’s fierce competitors in the smartphone space are looking to exploit its perceived weaknesses (iDon’t and Pretty, anyone?), ranging from lack of high-speed 4G LTE cellular data to unchanged design to the oh-not-so-monstrous 3.5-inch display. Perhaps it’s this familiarity of the tech-savvy South Korean phone buyers – coupled with the iPhone 4S’s lack of 4G LTE – that led Samsung to forgo its previously threatened sales blockage of Apple’s handset in the county? On another thought, Samsung “made up” for that concession by airing an advert bashing those that would wait in the line for an iPhone 4S, didn’t they?

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