China's name was conspicuously missing from the list of imminentlaunch locations at Apple's unveiling last week. But the new smartphones might be coming to the country sooner rather than later, now that they've overcome a key hurdle.
Apple on Thursday received regulatory approval for the iPhone 6 to tap into the country's domestic frequencies, according to the official government Xinhua news agency. Apple now needs approval from China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) in order to move forward with a launch plan.
When it announced the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus last week, Apple said that it plans to make the launch its most aggressive yet, bringing the device to more countries by the end of the year than it has in the past with previous launches.
China was missing from the initial list of countries that would be getting new iPhones, which surprised many, considering the importance of that country to Apple's bottom line. China has a fast-growing middle class and its booming consumer sector is ripe for Apple to capitalize on. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said on numerous occasions just how important China is to his company, which made its exclusion all the more apparent.
Apple will start selling the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in stores Friday in a handful of countries and territories: Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, France, Germany, the UK, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the US.
The iPhone 6 starts at $199 with a two-year agreement and comes with a 4.7-inch screen. The iPhone 6 Plus boosts the screen size to 5.5 inches and its starting price to $299. Demand for the devices exceeded supply last week and set a new record for preorders. Apple says that some customers will need to wait until October to get their hands on units.
Now that Apple has cleared one hurdle, it could only be a matter of time before it gets approval from the MIIT. Neither Apple nor China have officially commented on the approval process, but the iPhone maker has made clear that it plans to get units to Chinese consumers as soon as possible.
CNET has contacted Apple for comment on the report. We will update this story when we have more information.