Apple one step closer to launching iPhone 5 in China

Days after Apple's Q4 earnings, where Tim Cook revealed the iPhone would arrive in China by December, Chinese regulators have approved the latest Apple smartphone, pushing the company one step closer towards selling the handsets in the region.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

Chinese state regulators have approved two models of the iPhone 5 for sale in the country, allowing the maker of shiny rectangles to push for a launch in the region in the coming weeks.


Chinese news site Sina Tech first reported the news that the regulators had approved the iPhone 5 for sale in two differnet versions. The A1429 model will be compatible with China Unicom's 3G/GSM network, while the A1442 model will operate on China Telecom's CDMA network. 

For Apple to sell the latest smartphone in the country, the company must pass the 3C (China Compulsory Certificate) certification. However, according to sister-site CNET, Apple has yet to acquire a network-access license that would allow the handsets to connect to the country's cellular networks.

The country's second-largest network, China Unicom, which is part owned by the state and 5 percent-owned by Spanish mobile giant Telefonica, has more than 180 million subscribers. China Telecom, the country's third largest network, has more than 110 million subscribers.

However, the Chinese state regulators have yet to approve the iPhone 5 for China Mobile, the state-owned network with more than 600 million subscribers. As far as reports go, Apple has already inked deals with the two major networks, but has yet to make any formal agreement with the country's largest cellular network. 

iPhones are incredibly popular in China, with tens of millions being sold in the past two years alone.

China currently represents around 15 percent of Apple's global revenues, according to Apple chief executive Tim Cook on the fourth quarter earnings call last week. He also confirmed that the Cupertino, CA.-based firm "project[s]" that the iPhone 5 would arrive in China during the December quarter.

A move into China could see a significant boost to Apple's revenues in the region, perhaps as much as doubling sales.

Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley predicts that Apple can almost double the number of iPhones the company sells by the end of 2013. However, it's clear that without making waves in China, Apple will not be able to hit the 194 million smartphones 'milestone' as projected. 

A launch date for the iPhone 5 in China has yet to be announced, though Apple is expected to bring the long-awaited smartphone to the mainland Chinese market by the end of the year.

China-owned Hong Kong began selling the smartphone on its global launch day on September 21.

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