The iPhone made its debut at China Mobile stores across the country on Friday (January 17), opening Apple's door to the world's largest carrier's 763 million subscribers and giving its China sales a short-term jolt.
The long-awaited deal could trigger a limited turnaround for Apple, whose fortunes have wavered in China in the face of stiff competition from market-leader Samsung.
For the basic 16GB iPhone 5S, with no subscriber contract, China Mobile is charging 5,288 yuan (£534.90), the same as on Apple's China website. The carrier is charging 4,488 yuan (£453.97) for a basic iPhone 5C, again the same price as on Apple's China site.
Samsung had a 21 percent share of China's smartphone market in the third quarter of 2013, with Apple trailing in fifth place on just 6 percent, according to research firm Canalys. Other Chinese providers such as Xiaomi have also attracted an increasingly large following lately.
Despite the sales opportunity that this deal provides for Apple, Shanghai-based tech analyst David Clendenin believes that it will not have a major impact on Apple sales in China.
"But the bottom line is that it's going to help Apple sell more phones in China, it's at a time when Apple has started to lose some of its allure, globally, you know, in terms of their ability to sell a lot of phones, so there's no doubt it's good for them. You know, I think, how good for them is going to be more about what they do about the iPhone 6 and that form factor, and less about what they do with the iPhone 5. I mean you've got to think, like, they've had the iPhone 5 out for more than a year, and it's just now coming to China Mobile. So it's not new enough, it doesn't have enough wow factor any more to really move the needle even at China Mobile," he said.
Another issue is the thriving grey market for iPhones, where users can buy handsets typically smuggled from Hong Kong and then sign up for a China Mobile contract. China Mobile already has 45 million iPhone users in China, according to a company spokeswoman.
Presented by Adam Justice