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Apple's iPhone 5 officially goes on sale in China

After overcoming a number of regulatory hurdles, Apple's newest smartphone hits the most populated country on earth.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
Apple's iPhone 5 went on sale in China today. Apple

The world's biggest mobile phone market can now get its hands on Apple's iPhone 5.

The device officially went on sale in China today, according to The Next Web. Customers were able to snap up the smartphone through the Apple Online Store, via select Apple resellers, and by reservation from Apple retail stores.

China is of huge significance for Apple, it is the company's second biggest market -- after the U.S. -- and already accounted for about 15 percent ($23.8 billion) of the company's revenue for its fiscal year that ended in September.

Apple announced last month that it would be bringing the iPhone 5 to China, along with Wi-Fi versions of its iPad Mini and fourth-generation iPad. Both iPads went on sale there last week.

After kicking off preorders for the new phone last week, carrier China Unicom said it took in more than 100,000 online reservations in less than 48 hours. According to The Next Web, China Unicom announced more than 300,000 reservations earlier this week.

It appears one person couldn't wait for the device and broke into an Apple reseller's store in Beijing before it opened this morning. According to a Beijing newspaper report, the thief smashed one of the store's lower windows and went straight to the inventory. However, after the store's security system and alarm were set off, the thief fled empty-handed.

In the face of vibrant competition, Apple recently slipped out of the top five smartphone vendors in China. Researcher Canalys said in November that in the third quarter, the iPhone's share of shipments into the Chinese smartphone market dropped slightly to 8 percent. Market leader Samsung had 14 percent, and Chinese manufacturers accounted for the other four spots in the top five. But that could change now that the company's newest smartphone is available.

After overcoming a number of regulatory hurdles, the device is available through carriers China Telecom and China Unicom. As of now, it's still not being offered on China Mobile -- the country's largest carrier. Apple has been talking to China Mobile for several years about carrying the iPhone. However, the two have been unable to reach an agreement.

Besides China, Apple recently announced that more than 50 other countries will also get the iPhone 5, including South Korea, Brazil, Egypt, and Vietnam.