The next-generation iPhone is one of the year’s most highly-anticipated smartphone releases. The handset is expected to be one of the line’s biggest updates since it was introduced, 5 years ago.

According to a new report, consumer demand for the unreleased device is already bubbling. And some Chinese resellers are taking advantage of the hype, by taking pre-orders for the phone…

Reuters reports:

“Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) 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.”

Sellers on Taobao, a unit of Alibaba Group, say they’ve already received dozens of orders, despite the fact that some are asking for as much as 6,999 yuan (or $1,100) up front. The sellers say they plan to buy the handset in either Hong Kong or the United States when it’s released.

Demand for Apple products has always been high in China, especially around launch time. Due to stringent approval processes, new products can sometimes take months to hit the country (see third-generation iPad), allowing early-bird resellers to make a hefty profit.

It’ll be interesting to see if the new iPhone can live up to all of the hype. Recent rumors suggest that the handset will surface sometime in October, and feature a larger 4-inch display, LTE-compatibility, and a number of other enhancements.

Would you pre-order a next-gen iPhone if given the opportunity?