Two models of Apple’s newest smartphone are approved by a Chinese regulatory agency — meaning customers will likely get the device by the tentative December launch.
A number of hurdles must be overcome for Apple to be able to sell the iPhone 5 in China. Today, one of those barriers has been conquered and it’s looking more likely that Chinese users will soon be able to get their hands on the device.
A Chinese regulatory agency named State Radio Management announced that two models of the iPhone 5 — the A1429 and the A1442 — have been approved to run on China’s mobile networks, according to Chinese blog Sina Tech. Reportedly, the A1429 supports China Unicom’s 3G network and China Mobile’s 2G network, and the A1442 is compatible with China Telecom’s CDMA network.
China Mobile, the world’s largest carrier, has been in talks with Apple to run its smartphone, but so far the two companies still haven’t signed a deal. However, China Telecom began selling the iPhone 4S in March, and China Unicom has been selling iPhones in China for the last three years.
The two iPhone 5 models approved today also passed the 3C (China Compulsory Certificate) certification in September. Now the iPhone 5 faces one more challenge before it can reach China: getting a network-access license.
Apple’s iPhones are immensely popular in China. When the company began selling the iPhone 4S in Beijing in January, massive crowds emerged and a small riot was sparked after Apple announced it wouldn’t be selling the device on its pre-announced launch.
According to Apple Insider, a launch date for the iPhone 5 hasn’t yet been scheduled. However, just last week Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the device will most likely ship to Chinese customers in December.
This news comes as Apple announced it will open a third retail store in China, in Shenzhen. Other recent Chinese store openings were in Beijing and Hong Kong. Apple is working to expand its iPhone reach internationally. Just last Friday, the company reportedly launched the device in several new countries, including India, Greece, and Thailand.
CNET contacted Apple for comment. We’ll update the story when we get more information.