The news follows months of rumours to this effect, with the two companies seemingly locked into discussions regarding revenue-sharing arrangements. It seems Apple lost the battle on that one, so keen was it to gain a foothold in the booming market.
The carrier will offer two different "3G iPhones" to its 141 million subscribers and it will buy the phones wholesale from Apple.
China Unicom said: “On 28 August, the Company and Apple reached a three-year agreement for the Company to sell iPhone in China. The initial launch is expected to be in the fourth calendar quarter of 2009. This will provide users with brand new communication and information experience.”
It is unclear whether the device’s will support WiFi. Apple spokesman Alan Hely confirmed the deal with China Unicom, but declined to give further details.