China Telecom slashes iPhone price ahead of China Mobile release

Country's third-largest mobile operator slashes contract prices of the Apple smartphone by about 10 percent and offers a free accessories giftpack, just one week before China Mobile begins selling the iPhone on January 17.

China's third-largest mobile operator has slashed its contract prices for the Apple iPhone 5s by almost 10 percent, one week before its biggest rival China Mobile is to begin selling the smartphone on January 17. 

China Telecom is now offering its iPhone 5s 16GB contract bundles at 4,888 (US$801.09) at its Beijing retail stores, 800 yuan (US$131.11) lower than its list price of 5,288 yuan (US$866.65), reported Bloomberg. Subscribers will also receive a free accessories giftpack that includes an iPhone case and external battery pack, which the operator said was valued at 400 yuan (US$65.56).

The move comes just one week before the market leader, China Mobile, is scheduled to begin selling the smartphone after it finally inked a deal with Apple in December. Currently the world's largest telco with over 760 million subscribers, the operator has begun accepting pre-orders for the iPhone which will be available in its retail outlets from January 17. However, it has not released pricing details for the iPhone including subsidized contract offers.

China Telecom, which has been selling Apple products since March 2012, had attributed a 21 percent increase in quarterly net profit last August to strong iPhone sales

"It is the general practice of our company to roll out marketing promotion programs at appropriate times to enhance the business growth," Jacky Yung, Hong Kong-based spokesperson for China Telecom, said in the Bloomberg report.

The country's second-largest operator, China Unicom , has yet to unveil any promotions for its contract bundles for the iPhone, which it has been distribution since November 2009.