Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 5S in June and launch the new smartphone in July. Most pundits assume the device will launch with Apple’s typical carriers and that a new budget iPhone will be destined for China. However, a fresh report from Wedge Partners suggests that the flagship iPhone will also make its debut on China Mobile. That’s a first for Apple.
Tim Cook recently met with China Mobile’s chairman, although the extent and topic of that interview is still largely unknown. Apple has not yet launched an iPhone on China Mobile because the carrier operates its own TD-SCDMA network that past iPhones have not supported.
“We believe that Apple will launch the iPhone 5S at China Mobile this July, as it launches the next iteration of the iPhone globally,” Wedge Partners analyst Brian Blair said in a note obtained by Barron’s. “We believe this handset will be a TD-SCDMA model of the iPhone 5S and will likely begin production next month. The announcement of China Mobile will be meaningful for Apple iPhone units, as Apple has yet to direct-sell its iPhone to the carrier and its 710 million subscribers.”
Blair added that he expects India will also be a huge market for Apple in 2013. Production of the iPhone 5S is said to begin this quarter.