green iPhone 5c green background

As Apple fans in Japan batter the storm camping out in front of the local Apple Store ahead of Friday’s launch of the new top-line iPhone 5s and the colorful plastic iPhone 5c, journalists have been playing somewhat of a guessing game regarding iPhone 5c pre-orders (the 5s isn’t available for pre-order).

What’s the new milestone going to be and will it shatter previous iPhone pre-orders are the questions occupying the collective minds of Apple watchers as pundits have been holding their breath for an Apple press release. In the meantime, China Unicom has released some cold hard numbers…

Announcing the results, China Unicom said on its official Sina Weibo account on Monday that it’s taken more than 100,000 combined online reservations for the iPhone 5s and 5c thus far, Bloomberg reports.

This is significant because neither has China Unicom announced pricing plans for the new phones nor was it big on selling iPhones. Matter of fact, after its exclusive distribution agreement with Apple expired in 2012, the telco turned to selling cheap Android handsets.

China Unicom is China’s second largest carrier, has about 70 million 3G users and more than 165 million 2G-only subscribers. Together with China Telecom, the mainland’s second and third-biggest telcos, these two carriers have a combined base of 266 million subscribers.

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The figure still pales in comparison to China Mobile, the world’s largest telco with more than 700 million customers – more than AT&T and Verizon combined. While China Unicom and China Telecom started taking iPhone 5s/5c pre-orders last Friday, there’s no official word yet on that sought-after landmark distribution agreement with China Mobile.

Both new iPhones are slated to launch this coming Friday, September 20, in the United States, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany and Singapore. This is also the first time Chinese customers will be able to get their hands on a new iPhone from day one.

Previously, Apple used to launch new iPhones in China months following their US debut.

Apple usually issues press releases at 5:30 Pacific / 8:30 Eastern, leading doomsayers to conclude that there’s no media statement on iPhone 5c pre-orders because they are low. Coincidentally or not, shipping times for all 16GB iPhone 5c models at the online store slipped to September 25 earlier today.

What’s your take?