China Telecom may have committed a huge faux pas and prematurely confirmed not only the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C branding ahead of Apple’s September 10th event in the U.S., but that the devices will be available shortly thereafter. The posting was made to Chinese language microblogging site Weibo and has since been deleted. The carrier is claiming that those who preorder the phone(s) will be treated to a special gift bag and that the country will be among the first to launch Apple’s latest iOS smartphones to customers.
This information goes against an earlier rumor suggesting a China release date would happen much later after the announcement, possibly around the November time frame.
Though the carrier did not specifically disclose the exact availability date for the phone and when subscribers in China could walk into a store and purchase the new iOS smartphones, the carrier may have hinted that the wait in China for Apple’s latest phones won’t be as long anymore.
Chinese customers traditionally had to wait longer than their western counterparts in the past as the delay between when the iPhone is announced and when it becomes available in China was much longer. However, it looks like the turnaround this time for the new iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C may be much shorter.
Most recently, there is evidence that China may be among the earliest countries to get the iPhone as Apple had scheduled a rare satellite media event in China alongside the official iPhone debut at the media event in Cupertino, California. The event in China is scheduled for several hours after the Cupertino event and will be held on September 11 local time in that country.
Separately, 9to5 Mac is reporting that a posting on Sina is forecasting the official availability date for the phones to be September 20th, which is the same date that’s being projected for U.S. availability. Traditionally, the U.S. market is among the first to get the iPhone, so if the Sina posting is accurate, customers in China will be able to buy their iPhones at the same time that customers in the U.S. can.
Another Chinese retailer, Dixintong, is being reported as offering the iPhone starting on September 25th. It’s unclear if that is the general availability date for China, or if it’s just when Dixintong will be offering the phone through its own channels.
Either way, China may now be among the earliest countries to get the iPhone and the country with its large population is an important market for Apple. It’s rumored that Apple may have created the more budget-friendly iPhone 5C for emerging markets, of which China is a part of.
Additionally, given the priority on launching the iPhone early in China, Apple may be signaling that it has enough inventory to do so, especially given the large population in China. Apple had struggled with iPhone launches in the past due to overwhelming demand and a short supply of phones.
However, China Telecom’s social media postings should be taken still with a grain of salt. Images posted by the carrier do not match what we have been hearing through leaks in the recent months. The iPhone 5C is rumored to come with a unibody polycarbonate construction, not as an iPhone 5 with colored panels as the picture posted by the carrier depicts.