China to get iPhone 5, iPad Mini in December

The diminutive tablet will be available starting December 7, along with the larger fourth-generation iPad. The iPhone 5 hits stores a week later.

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Jon Skillings is an editorial director at CNET, where he's worked since 2000. A born browser of dictionaries, he honed his language skills as a US Army linguist (Polish and German) before diving into editing for tech publications -- including at PC Week and the IDG News Service -- back when the web was just getting under way, and even a little before. For CNET, he's written on topics from GPS, AI and 5G to James Bond, aircraft, astronauts, brass instruments and music streaming services.
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It's official: China will move into the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini era next month.

Apple announced this morning that the Wi-Fi versions of the iPad Mini and the fourth-generation iPad will be available in China on Friday, December 7, and the iPhone 5 on Friday, December 14.

Consumers in China will be able to get all three gadgets through the Apple Online Store, via select Apple resellers, and by reservation from Apple retail stores.

China is of huge significance for Apple, already accounting for about 15 percent ($23.8 billion) of the company's revenue for its fiscal year that ended in September. At the time, CEO Tim Cook said that Apple was projecting the arrival of the iPhone 5 in China during the December quarter.

It was just in recent days that the iPhone 5 passed its final regulatory hurdles in China.

In the face of vibrant competition, Apple recently slipped out of the top five smartphone vendors in China. Researcher Canalys said earlier this month 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.

The iPad, meanwhile, has maintained a healthy grip on the Chinese market. In the third quarter, Apple had a 71 percent tablet market share in the country, while China's own Lenovo took just 10 percent, according to research firm Analysys International.

Apple brought the iPhone 5 first to the U.S. and a handful of other markets in late September. The iPad Mini and fourth-generation iPad went on sale in the U.S. and more than 30 other countries at the start of November.

Watch this: iPhone 5: Hands-on at CNET