Apple’s iPhone 5 has been finally cleared for sale, officially at least, in China, after the country’s Ministry of Industry and Technology gave the handset the official seal of approval.
Two variants of the iPhone 5, WCDMA and CDMA-2000, have been certified as passing all the requisite stringent regulatory checks and will soon be available on China Unicom and China Telecom.
However, a TD-SCDMA version for state-owned China Mobile, which has a whopping 703 million subscribers, is still nowhere to be seen. Still, two networks are still better than none when launching in the world’s largest mobile market.
Although release details have not yet been confirmed, Apple CEO Tim Cook had previously said that the iPhone 5 should be available in China by December.
Apple products have traditionally been released in China months after they are launched in Western markets, forcing early adopters to purchase their iPhones from ‘black marketeers’ who import the handsets from abroad to sell them for $200 or more than the original price.
Although demand for Apple products in China has always been remarkably high thanks to a fast-growing middle class, some analysts believe the iPhone 5 may not be as sought-after, as one of its biggest USPs, 4G LTE, is still unavailable in the country.
Sandy Shen of Gartner said: "I think the high-end market is already saturated with Apple's product. People that should have an Apple product, already have one.
"If you ask them to upgrade to the iPhone 5, I don't think they will have a strong enough drive to do it because of the lack of innovation in the new iPhone."
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