China Mobile isn’t an iPhone partner, but it still has 15 million iPhone users

China Mobile is the world’s largest wireless carrier, by almost any measurement, with over 650 million mobile subscribers. Its sheer size has made the operator a prime target for Apple partnership rumors, but the two companies have yet to ink out a deal.

But that hasn’t stopped folks from using the iPhone on China Mobile’s gigantic network. Last fall the carrier announced that it was tracking more than 10 million unlocked iPhone users. And today, just 6 months later, it says that number has gone up 50%…

China Mobile announced this morning that it has surpassed 15 million iPhone users. That’s huge considering that the company was only at 10 million back in October. That’s an average of 35,000 iPhone activations per day for a carrier that’s not even an official Apple partner. Wow.

That number makes China Mobile the number one iPhone carrier in China, despite the competition — China Unicom and China Telecom — having iPhone contracts. Imagine what the numbers would look like if China Mobile finally reached a deal with Apple to properly bring its handset to its network.

Much like unlocked iPhone users on T-Mobile here in the US, China Mobile iPhone customers are operating the handset on the carrier’s slower 2G data network. The company’s 3G network uses TD-SCDMA technology, which is not currently supported by Apple’s smartphone.

[Sina Tech via TheNextWeb]