Apple announced Friday its iPhone 5 smartphone will be available for sale in China on Dec. 14.
Apple received final clearance from Chinese regulators on Thursday, paving the way for its debut in a highly competitive market where the lack of a new model had severely eroded its share of product sales.
China is Apple’s second-largest market and its Chinese fans are eagerly awaiting the latest model of its smartphone, the iPhone 5, which was released in the U.S. in September.
Apple had said that the iPhone 5 would be released in China in December, but the long wait caused its smartphone market share to halve to 10 percent in the second quarter, as users switched brands or held out for the latest model, data from industry research firm IDC showed in August.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority, under China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, showed two iPhone 5 models on its website that received approval on Thursday. The two are the A1429, a WCDMA model that runs on China Unicom’s network, and the A1442, a CDMA model that runs on China Telecom’s network.
The chairman of China Unicom, the country’s second-largest mobile carrier, said early this month that it expected to start selling the iPhone 5 this year as it aims for a major boost in 3G users to 100 million by the year-end, up from 67 million in the first nine months.
Many users on Sina Corp.’s Weibo, China’s most popular microblogging platform, cheered the imminent arrival of the latest iPhone. “I’m all ready! The iPhone 5 is coming!” said one.