updated 10:35 am EST, Tue November 8, 2011
iPhone 4S could reach China before end of 2011
Apple has finally discontinued 16 and 32GB models of the iPhone 4 for China Unicom, and the latter company is accelerating efforts to launch an 8GB version by the end of the month, sources close to the carrier claim. The company's general manager, Lu Yumin, has publicly stated that it is pushing to sell the iPhone 4S as soon as possible. Local reports suggest that while the 4S is still waiting for regulatory approval, it could ship by the end of 2011, preceded by an 8GB iPhone 4 as in the US.
Of further interest is that Apple is allegedly trying to hire a government relations consultant. The person would be responsible for coordinating regulatory processes, and talking to different government departments, making sure devices get necessary network licenses.
China Unicom may have special reason to get the 4S as soon as possible. The phone is already on sale in Hong Kong and Singapore, and it's believed that many of the purchases in those regions are coming from gray market dealers who turn around and sell their goods in mainland China. Despite the markups imposed by scalpers, foreign phones can offer advantages such as unlocked carrier access.