Sources at China Unicom say the carrier’s executives recently ended a successful set of negotiations with Apple in regard to the soon to be introduced new iPhone, and they expect the device to launch on the network by years-end.
Employees claiming knowledge of the Chinese carrier’s plans said China Unicom Deputy General Manager Li Gang and other unnamed executives concluded (machine translation) a successful August visit to the U.S., the result being a possible earlier than usual release of Apple’s much-anticipated smartphone, reports Sohu IT.
In the past, Apple has staggered big launches, with China waiting for months following a U.S. rollout. If the rumors about China Unicom are true, the new iPhone could see the fastest introduction in Chinese history, beating the launch for the iPhone 4S, when the handset was introduced in China in January, three months after it’s simultaneous debut in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the U.K., France, Germany and Japan.
China Unicom is the nation’s second-largest carrier, behind China Mobile, who is the world’s largest wireless operator, and has been an Apple partner since 2009. Apple also reached a deal with China Telcom to sell the device in February.
China Mobile has yet to reach a deal to bring the iPhone to its 600 million subscribers, but a report in February renewed rumors that the giant carrier would soon carry the handset on its 4G TD-LTE network.