Update: The Chinese government has now confirmed this date.

The iPhone looks set to be launched by China Mobile – the biggest carrier in the world’s biggest country – on Wednesday 18th December, reports the WSJ. While neither the carrier nor Apple have made a definitive announcement, China Mobile has said this is the date it will “introduce a new brand.”

The launch is expected during the company’s 4G global partners conference in Guangzhou, according to China Mobile’s website. An executive at the world’s largest mobile operator has said it is ready to start fourth-generation mobile services, though China has yet to issue 4G licenses. In September, China’s Telecom Equipment Certification Center gave Apple Inc.the final license necessary for the iPhone to run on China Mobile’s network … 


China Mobile posters for the iPhone 5s and 5c had leaked as long ago as September, but the deal itself has been a long time coming. It’s a hugely important one to Apple, with analysts estimating that Japan and China between them will be worth an extra 38M iPhone sales.

One analyst quoted by the WSJ believes the potential number is very much larger.

“A deal with China Mobile would give Apple a big boost in the China market as the largest local carrier has the most wealthy subscriber base. I estimate that among China Mobile’s more than 700 million mobile subscribers, at least 10% or 70 million wealthier ones would be potential customers for iPhones,” Hong Kong-based Mizuho Securities analyst Marvin Lo said.

It has been claimed that China Mobile already has 42M iPhone users, purchased at full price from other sources and then used with China Mobile SIMs.

The exact terms of the deal between Apple and China Mobile are unlikely to be made public, but Bloomberg had suggested back in September that Apple may have found itself in an unusually weak bargaining position given the importance of securing this deal.

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