Apple’s Chinese deal may – or may not, given the stop/start nature of negotiations so far – be reaching closure, with some reports suggesting an official announcement confirming China Unicom as carrier, perhaps as soon as this Friday.

Following months of rumour, Reuters cites an unnamed analyst who claims the deal between Apple and China Unicom for provision of the iPhone in China will be revealed this Friday. That’s a huge deal, opening up the world’s largest mobile market.

China Unicom didn’t deny the claim, but would only say the device would “undoubtedly” be discussed this Friday when the carrier announces its financial results.

The device is being manufactured by Hon Hai, and while it doesn’t offer WiFI it is capable of operating on the carrier’s WCDMA 3G network.

Previous reports have claimed China Unicom to have purchased five million iPhones for sale in China at a cost of c.$1.5 billion.

The first batch of iPhones will appear in China Unicom 3G stalls at Carrefour and some large retail outlets run by China Unicom in September, said Zhou Youmeng, vice general manager of China Unicom, speaking earlier this month.

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