China to win early access to new iPhone lineup

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 September, 2013, 10:15am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 September, 2013, 10:21am

China will be one of the first countries to have access to Apple’s latest iPhone models, the premium 5S with unique fingerprint identification and the cheaper, multi-coloured 5C.

Apple will start selling the two new iPhone models on September 20, with pre-orders commencing on Friday.

By the end of December, the new iPhones will be available in 100 markets and more than 270 mobile network operators around the world.

While there was no announcement about China Mobile becoming its latest carrier-partner on the mainland, the two new iPhone models represent the most advanced 4G smartphones in the market.

Both the 5S and 5C support 17 different 4G frequency bands, covering both the mainland-developed time-division long-term evolution (TD-LTE) standard and the more mature frequency division duplexing long-term evolution (FDD-LTE) standard.

Beijing is expected to initially award 4G TD-LTE licenses this fourth quarter. China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless network operator by subscribers, has already started its network expansion plans nationwide ahead of the granting of licences.

On the mainland’s online Apple Store, prices for the 16-gigabyte iPhone 5C start at 4,488 yuan while those for the 16GB iPhone 5S start from 5,288 yuan.

Hong Kong’s online Apple Store show that prices for the 16GB iPhone 5C start at HK$4,688, while those for the 16GB iPhone 5S run from HK$5,588.

In a research note published on Wednesday, Barclays said the new iPhones are expected to post strong sales this month and October.

“We believe the new iPhones are already assembled and shipped,” said Barclays.

It estimated that Apple will ship worldwide between 28 million and 32 million units of the new iPhone 5S and 5C in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, the forecast shipments will be between 54 million and 56 million units.

Apple is expected to step up its marketing campaigns on the mainland for the new smartphones, especially of the lower-priced 5C, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Tim Bajarin, president of independent consultancy and market research firm Creative Strategies, said the iPhone 5C will probably record strong demand on the mainland.

At a lower cost and with the new colours it should become of real interest in China,” Bajarin said. “Although not cheap, it is in a price range that is much more acceptable for the mid-tier markets of Asia, where it should fare well.”

The iPhone 5C -- available in blue, green, pink, yellow and white -- is crafted from a single, hard-coated polycarbonate body with a steel reinforced frame. This frame holds the internal components and doubles as a multiband antenna.

Apple’s new flagship smartphone, the iPhone 5S, features an anodised aluminium body and Touch ID, a revolutionary fingerprint security feature.

Built into the home button, Touch ID uses a laser-cut sapphire crystal, together with a capacitive touch sensor, to take a high-resolution image of a user’s fingerprint and intelligently analyse it to provide accurate readings from any angle.

Its all-new A7 chip also makes the iPhone 5s the world’s first smartphone with 64-bit desktop-class architecture for blazing fast performance. Other smartphones still run on 32-bit architecture.

Both new iPhone models also run Apple’s proprietary iOS 7 platform, which is engineered for 64-bit technology.

Bajarin said: “The 64 bit processor really impacts games, graphics, and multi-tasking. Once software developers embrace this, the new iPhone will be recognised as a highly innovative smartphone.”