China Telecom to offer the iPhone 5 in late November or early December

The iPhone 5 should finally make a landfall in the 1.33 billion people market of China via the county’s state-owned telco, China Telecom. The Wall Street Journal reports that the carrier should start offering the handset in late November or early December though government officials stopped short of saying when the device might win final approval. It was reported last month that the China State Radio Management agency gave the device a preliminary approval for sale in the country…

Paul Mozur filed this report with the Journal:

China Telecom Chairman Wang Xiaochu said Friday in a brief interview on the sidelines of the Communist Party’s 18th Party Congress in Beijing that the phone should be by early December if not sooner.

Apple also offered previous iPhone models through China Unicom and has long been rumored to cut a landmark deal with China Mobile, the world’s largest carrier with about 655 million subscribers.

China Unicom Chairman Chang Xiaobing declined to specify when his company might offer the handset.

“We hope to offer it this year, but what I say doesn’t matter“, he said, adding China Unicom is waiting for the government to grant the remaining licenses for the phone to be released in China.

Availability of the iPhone 5 in the world’s most important market for smartphones will surely help with Apple’s holiday quarter, for which the company issued a revenue guidance of $52 billion.

China raked in a cool $5.7 billion in revenue in Apple’s Q4 earnings repot, or sixteen percent of the total quarterly revenue of $36 billion.

Research firm Canalys reported yesterday that local brands that produce inexpensive handsets like ZTE, Huawei and Yulong pushed Apple out of China’s top 5 smartphone list.

Apple committed to rolling out the iPhone 5 in over a hundred countries and 240 carriers by year’s end.


The arrival of the iPhone 5 in China will also spoil the fun for gray market dealers, who typically buy devices in other countries and resell them in China for a premium.

If you’re interested, TechCrunch has a nice overview of how Apple battles gray market in China. MIC Gadget also takes a look at how Apple is battling the grey market with its newly opened retail store in Shenzhen, where its devices are being assembled.