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November 30, 2012

China Gets Apple IPhone 5, IPad Mini In December

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

The good people of China only have a matter of days left to wait before they can buy Apple´s latest post-PC devices in their stores.

Apple announced this morning that they´d begin selling the 4th generation iPad Proper, iPad mini and iPhone 5 beginning December 7th.

As tech giant put it: “Apple today announced the Wi-Fi versions of iPad mini and fourth generation iPad with Retina display will be available in China on Friday, December 7, and iPhone 5 will be available on Friday, December 14. iPad mini and the new fourth generation iPad with Retina display are currently available in 42 countries, and iPhone 5 is available in 47 countries, including the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the UK.”

As we´ve seen recently with the new iMac and iTunes, Apple often waits until the very last minute of their self-imposed deadlines to deliver. In this instance, the iPhone maker is acting outside of character. During their last earnings call, Tim Cook told an analyst that they expected to launch these new products in China in “December.”

Though they were able to meet their deadline with plenty of time to spare, Apple didn´t give any mention to which carriers would support the iPhone 5. In May, rumors began to surface about a potential partnership between Apple and China Mobile, the world´s largest mobile carrier by subscriptions.

Apple has been steadily increasing their presence in China, and now, Chinese sales make up 15% of their revenues. With more than 660 million subscribers, China Mobile could help Apple strengthen their business in the East.

The LTE chip inside the iPhone could possibly be compatible with China Mobile´s TD-LTE, making the potential of an iPhone 5 on the world´s largest carrier even more enticing for Apple.

Just as they did with the American release of these devices, Apple is also holding back on the cellular versions of iPad, offering only Wi-Fi versions. Apple has yet to say when or if the cellular versions will be available in China.

Elsewhere in iPhone 5 news, Apple has begun to sell unlocked GSM versions of their latest smartphone.

Apple has previously sold unlocked versions of their iPhones, but today marks the first time the iPhone 5 is available unlocked in a GSM variant.

Many early adopters noticed the Verizon CDMA version of the iPhone 5 shipped unlocked, capable of taking either a Verizon SIM card or an AT&T SIM card.

“The unlocked iPhone includes all the features of iPhone but without a wireless contract commitment,” explains Apple on their website.

“You can activate and use iPhone on the supported GSM wireless network of your choice, such as AT&T in the United States. The unlocked iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 will not work with CDMA-based carriers such as Verizon Wireless or Sprint.”

These unlocked phones are significantly higher priced with carrier subsidies, of course. The entry level 16 GB model costs $649, with the 32 GB and 64 GB running $749 and $849, respectively.

These unlocked GSM phones also allow T-Mobile customers to use the iPhone 5 on Big Pink´s network.