Chinese iPhone  (Source: AppleInsider)
Apple has not officially announced the deal at this time

The iPhone is one of the most popular smartphones in the market. Apple was able to ship over 5 million of the devices the last quarter alone. Apple has said previously that it will enter into the Chinese market with the iPhone, but had never put a hard date on its entry.

AppleInsider reports that a new model of the iPhone specifically for the Chinese market was approved back on May 7 by the China State Radio Regulatory Commission. The new model is reported to be a GSM/WCDMA mobile phone operating on the 900/1700/1900MHz bands. The device has Bluetooth, but Apple pulled Wi-Fi from the handset. The model was reportedly approved for use in China for the next five years.

According to some reports, the special Chinese model uses the Unicom WCDMA standard, which runs a 3G network that uses technology very similar to AT&T in the U.S. The leaked images of the new Chinese iPhone show that the device has 16GB of storage.

The deal between Apple and China Unicom is reported to have a minimum order threshold of $731 million in iPhone sales, which will guarantee orders of one or two million devices per year. According to rumors, China Unicom is paying $439 per iPhone unit, but it will reportedly sell the units for less than it is paying Apple for the devices.

The China Unicom deal should prove very lucrative for Apple, as the network is 170% larger than AT&T in terms of subscribers. The iPhone had bolstered Apple's profits and AT&T's margins in the U.S, but AT&T's stock has been marked as a sell by some analysts on the prospects of losing iPhone exclusivity.

Apple still isn’t announcing the date it will enter the Chinese market and only said in a recent earnings call that the negotiation would be a priority project.

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs
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