China Approves Modified iPhone

Apple has cleared another hurdle in bringing the iPhone to China by gaining government approval for a modified version of the combination iPod and smartphone that doesn't include Wi-Fi support. iPhone photos are even appearing on the government's Telecommunication Equipment Certification Center, too, according to Macworld.

China Unicom recently announced that it had penned a deal with Apple to carry the iPhone in China, but didn't say when it planned to start selling the handset. Now that government approval has finally been granted, the company can start finalizing its launch plans.

Bringing the iPhone to China has been a slow process because the government doesn't allow smartphones with unrestricted built-in Wi-Fi. Apple chose to build an iPhone model without Wi-Fi support instead of designing a unit that included special protocols developed by the Chinese government.

The lack of built-in Wi-Fi support may turn some potential iPhone buyers to the grey market where China's iPhone sales seem to be strong. Grey market iPhone sales are popular in the country because so far that's been the only way for locals to get their hands on the device.

The Chinese government Web site is showing images of the 8GB iPhone 3G, which falls in line with China Unicom's statement that it will be offering that model. The company also said that it would be offering the 16GB and 32GB iPhone 3GS.