China Mobile expected to launch iPhone December 18

china mobile

After years of negotiations and several months of rumors, it looks like China Mobile is finally going to land the iPhone next month. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the carrier is expected to announce the “new brand” for mobile services on December 18.

Apple and China Mobile have long been reported to be in partnership discussions, and Tim Cook has been seen at the company’s headquarters in Beijing multiple times. But for whatever reason, the two sides have been unable to reach an agreement. Until now…

Here’s The Journal’s Lorraine Luk with more:

“The launch is expected during the company’s 4G global partners conference in Guangzhou, according to China Mobile’s website. An executive at the world’s largest mobile operator has said it is ready to start fourth-generation mobile services, though China has yet to issue 4G licenses. In September, China’s Telecom Equipment Certification Center gave Apple Inc.AAPL +0.23% the final license necessary for the iPhone to run on China Mobile’s network.”

A China Mobile deal would be huge boon for Apple’s handset sales— and not just in China. The carrier is the largest in the world with over 700 million mobile subscribers, and it’s believed over 40 million of them are already using unlocked iPhones with CM SIM cards.

“A deal with China Mobile would give Apple a big boost in the China market as the largest local carrier has the most wealthy subscriber base. I estimate that among China Mobile’s more than 700 million mobile subscribers, at least 10% or 70 million wealthier ones would be potential customers for iPhones,” Hong Kong-based Mizuho Securities analyst Marvin Lo said.”

Obviously, nothing’s official yet, and won’t be until Apple and China Mobile make an actual announcement. But the pieces are certainly falling into place. Back in September, we noted that both the iPhone 5s and 5c are compatible with China Mobile’s TD-LTE tech.