A young Chinese couple are facing criminal charges for allegedly “selling” their young daughter and using the money to buy an Apple iPhone, according to state media.

Shanghai prosecutors have brought a case of human trafficking against the pair, who are accused of putting their third child up for adoption online in exchange for cash, the Liberation Daily reports.

Investigators claim the mother, whose full name was not given, used the money to buy an iPhone, high-end sports shoes and other goods.

Apple’s products are hugely popular in China but are priced beyond the reach of many.

Some have gone to extreme lengths to get hold of the devices, highlighted last year by the case of a teenager who sold his kidney, and used the proceeds to buy an iPhone and iPad.

The couple are said to have told police they wanted their daughter to have a better upbringing than they could provide, as they already had two children.

“Giving away the child was not for obtaining benefits, but giving her better guarantees,” one is reported as saying.

Some Chinese, especially in rural areas, have a traditional preference for sons, although reports did not say if the child’s gender had also been a factor in the case.

An official of the prosecutor’s office dealing with the case has expressed concerns over “sensationalism” surrounding the affair, but declined to comment further.

Shanghai police could not be reached for comment.

Reports did not give the amount the couple received for the child, but their online postings allegedly asked for 30,000 yuan and 50,000 yuan (around £3,000 and £5,000).

Apple last month launched the iPhone 5S, including a gold-coloured model, and the cheaper iPhone 5C in China