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China Mobile rivals cut contract prices on iPhone

China Telecom and China Unicom have trimmed prices as China Mobile gears up to start selling the iPhone, says the Wall Street Journal.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney

Two of China's mobile carriers have cut the cost of iPhone contracts as the country's largest carrier adds the phone to its lineup.

Following years of negotiations, Apple and China Mobile finally announced an agreement last month to sell the two new iPhones starting January 17. With a subscriber base of 760 million subscribers, China Mobile is, by far, the nation's biggest mobile carrier.

So it's no coincidence that rivals China Telecom and China Unicom are taking steps to retain their grip on the market.

China Telecom has trimmed the price of certain 24-month contracts for the 16GB iPhone 5S by as much as 24 percent, or 1,288 yuan ($212), the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. The carrier also reduced some contract prices for the iPhone 5C by 24 percent. China Unicom has cut certain contract costs for the 16GB 5S, but by just 15 percent, as seen on the carrier's Web site.

China Mobile has yet to reveal prices for the iPhone and its long-term contracts. An unsubsidized iPhone 5S starts at 5,288 yuan ($873), while an off-contract 16GB 5C goes for 4,488 yuan ($741). Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster recently forecast that China Mobile could sell as many as 17 million iPhones this year, around 2 percent of its total subscriber count.