China Unicom Lands Exclusive iPhone Deal


China Unicom, China's second biggest cell service provider, officially landed an exclusive iPhone deal and is planning for a fourth quarter 2009 launch. The deal makes China Unicom Apple's only iPhone partner in China for three years and lays to rest months of rumors and speculation over which carrier would get to sell the combination iPod and smartphone in the country.

China Unicom didn't offer any additional details about the deal, like how much users can expect to pay for an iPhone, and whether or not Wi-Fi really will be disabled. Apple, however, is assumed to be working on a version of the iPhone without Wi-Fi to comply with Chinese government regulations.

Reports state China Unicom agreed to purchase five million iPhones from Apple, but the company has denied those claims.

With the big question out of the way, meaning which carrier will land the iPhone in China, now the rumor mills can focus on when it will launch, what features will be included and how much China Unicom subscribers will have to pay.

[Update: Corrected text to designate China Unicom as China's second biggest cell carrier. - Editor]