An iPhone 5S launch has long been expected for China Mobile, but when will the final major carrier in China to partner with Apple launch the handset? The latest signs indicate it could happen before the end of the year.
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More signs point to iPhone launch on China Mobile

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China Mobile is China’s biggest wireless carrier, but it has yet to receive the iPhone despite the availability of the device on smaller carriers China Unicom and China Telecom. It has long been expected that the iPhone 5S and 5C would be the first Apple handsets to launch with the carrier, but an exact date has been hazy. Evidence is mounting that a partnership between China Mobile and Apple could be unveiled before the end of the year.

Alongside the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C appearing in marketing materials for the carrier’s 4G LTE rollout, most recently a China Mobile subsidiary was found to be taking pre-orders for the handsets. An announcement could come at a December 18th partners meeting to unveil new services.

The delayed arrival can partially be blamed on the carrier’s poor 3G support. China Mobile, which accounts for 62 percent of China’s mobile users, currently only delivers 3G services to 23 percent of its customers (176 million). 4G LTE penetration is even lower. Overall, the carrier’s growth has slowed year-over-year.

Expanding in China has been an emphasis of Apple’s since Tim Cook stepped up as CEO. Many saw the new gold iPhone 5S color option as directly targeting Chinese buyers, and indeed the option has been quite popular around Hong Kong. China Mobile, with its large install base, is seen as the last frontier in conquering the major foreign market.

[via Forbes]

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