The iPhone 5 is set to launch in China by mid-December after satisfying the nation’s regulatory requirements this month, The Wall Street Journal reported early Thursday. Regulatory documents discovered by the WSJ show approval for an iPhone 5 running on China Telecom’s network, the country’s third-largest carrier, while Engadget reports that approval has also been granted for China Unicom, the nation’s second-largest carrier.
Notably absent from the documents is any reference to the TD-SCDMA standard, a requirement for use on China Mobile, the nation’s (and the world’s) largest mobile carrier with over 600 million customers. An October report from a Deutsche Bank analyst suggested that the reason for Apple’s failure to secure a deal with the government-owned carrier was due to concerns over carrier subsidies. Even without an official deal, however, millions of the carrier’s customers are already using some form of iPhone on the network, although at slower 2G speeds due to the absence of support for China Mobile’s 3G network in any shipping iPhone.
Although absent from Mainland China, the iPhone 5 has been on sale in Hong Kong since late September, driving interest and demand from parts of the country where the device has thus far remained unavailable.
Apple, which manufactures nearly all of its products in China, has a relatively small but growing presence in the country. Forced to meet strict governmental regulations for all of its products and services, the rollout of Apple stores and products has been limited over the past several years, with new stores opening at much slower pace than in other nations. Still, its huge and ever-urbanizing population make China one of Apple’s largest opportunities for future growth.
With expansion into China imminent, Apple’s promise to have the iPhone 5 available in 100 countries on 240 carriers by December is likely to be kept.
Teaser graphic made with help from Shutterstock.