iPhone 5 to launch in China at end of November

Apple's latest smart phone will launch on two of China's largest networks in the coming weeks.

Joe Svetlik Reporter
Joe has been writing about consumer tech for nearly seven years now, but his liking for all things shiny goes back to the Gameboy he received aged eight (and that he still plays on at family gatherings, much to the annoyance of his parents). His pride and joy is an Infocus projector, whose 80-inch picture elevates movie nights to a whole new level.
Joe Svetlik
2 min read

The iPhone 5 will soon be on sale in China for the first time.

The Wall Street Journal reports that state-controlled China Telecom, the country's third biggest mobile operator, and China Unicom, the second largest, will offer the new iPhone at the end of November or beginning of December. Both networks have been awaiting government approval to sell the handset.

When it'll be released isn't set in stone though. China Telecom chairman Wang Xiaochu said the iPhone 5 would be offered by early December at the latest. But China Unicom chairman Chang Xiaobing would only say, "We hope to offer it this year, but what I say doesn't matter." Don't be so down on yourself, Chang.

It's good news for Apple, but not a total success. China Mobile, the country's largest network with just shy of 700 million subscribers, still refuses to take the phone. Now that would be some serious new business. Sadly for the Californian company, it's not to be. Not yet, anyway.

The Chinese market accounted for 16 per cent of Apple's total revenue for the last quarter, and continues to be a strong area of growth. But Android dominates. Fifty nine per cent of high-end handsets sold in China in the last three months ran Android, compared to 41 per cent the year before. Apple sold 2.3 million iPhones in China, while there were 3.5 million Android mobiles sold. No doubt Android's broader price range is in its favour.

Google's services were blocked in China on Friday, to coincide with the Chinese Communist Party Congress. So operating there doesn't exactly sound like a picnic for US companies.

Apple has suffered delays with its latest handset. Manufacturer Foxconn recently said it was struggling to meet demand, and previously described the device as tricky to put together. Us Brits are currently in for a three to four week wait if we want an iPhone 5. The handsets are limited to two per customer in the UK.