It looks like Apple’s got its iPhone 5 ducks in a row in China, after the device received a mandatory regulatory certification required before it goes on sale in the country.
Sina Tech noticed that two iPhones received the China Compulsory Certificate approval on Monday – a WCDMA phone model A1429 (likely the global GSM version of the iPhone 5) and a CDMA2000 version of the iPhone with model number A1442. Given that the current CDMA iPhone 5 (A1429) doesn’t list support for China Telecom’s CDMA2000 network, it’s possible that Apple has submitted a separate model number for the carrier.
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Apple likely still has a few hoops to jump through, however, as mobile phones in China also require a network access license and a sign-off from the China Radio Management agency.
At least for now, the iPhone looks to be on track to arrive in China by the end of this year. China Unicom has said that it will begin sales of the device within three months if regulatory approval goes along as planned. China Telecom claims it will get the new iPhone shortly after its rival.
Chinese customers who don’t want to wait can already purchase the iPhone 5 on the grey market, but they’ll definitely pay a premium, as scalpers outside an official Apple retail store in Beijing were asking for as much as $1,700 earlier this week.
China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless carrier with almost 700 million subscribers, may have a shot at getting the iPhone 5 after a teardown revealed that the smartphone’s baseband chip does have native support for the operator’s homegrown TD-SCDMA 3G network. Apple, however, would have to release a new model with slight modifications, as it doesn’t currently list the standard on its technical specifications. Given the size of China Mobile’s customer base, the new model would be worth the trouble, as Apple could offset seasonal drop-offs in iPhone sales by releasing on the carrier early next year.
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