Apple’s next iPhone will be the first-ever, bona fide international phone, when it debuts on the world’s biggest mobile network, China Mobile, latest analyst forecast suggests.
In a research note to investors on Thursday, Shaw Wu of Sterne Agee revealed that the sixth-generation iPhone will be compatible for China Mobile’s proprietary TD-SCDMA 3G network, opening the door to the network’s vast customer base of 650 million subscribers when it launches sometime in October.
Apple recently unveiled its latest iOS 6 operating system, which brings improved support for Chinese languages, including the ability for its Siri voice assistant software to understand and speak Mandarin and Cantonese, easier character input and integration with popular Chinese services such as Baidu, Youku, Sina Weibo and Toudo.
Wu also noted that in addition to fuller 3G capabilities, the iPhone 5 will rock a revamped form factor, a larger screen and a 4G LTE modem.
"We believe these new features will likely help drive a significant upgrade and new user cycle more powerful than what we saw with the iPhone 4 and 4S," Wu wrote in his report.
Commenting on his previous report of Apple slashing its quarterly orders for the iPhone 4S, Wu said: "This is more of a function of the transition ahead of the upcoming 6th generation iPhone refresh likely in October timeframe as opposed to weak demand.”
Whispers that Apple would make a stronger push for the Chinese market grew louder when CEO Tim Cook visited China Mobile’s Beijing office a few months back.
The iPhone is currently ranged by two rival networks: China Unicom and China Telecom CHA.