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Apple's iPhones Coming to China Mobile in January

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Following weeks of negotiations,  Apple (AAPL - Get Report) announced it has reached a multi-year deal to begin selling its current iPhone models made for  China Mobile  (CHL), the world's largest mobile service provider.

Apple stock rose nearly 3.5% to $567.80 in premarket trading on Monday.

The new agreement means that beginning Jan. 17, Apple will be able to offer its iPhone 5s and 5c to the carrier's 700+ million customers for the first time. China Mobile controls nearly two-thirds of the Chinese cellular phone market.

Smaller Chinese mobile operators have made separate deals with Apple and have successfully been selling iPhones for months fueling China Mobile's recent push to complete a deal with Apple.

The majority of Chinese customers shop for new devices based on price alone. Most phones are sold in China without subsidies as offered by U.S. and European carriers.

Currently, smartphones made by Samsung are the top sellers in China (approximately 20%) along with other Google (GOOG) Android-based devices manufactured by local companies such as CoolpadHuawei, Lenovo, OppoXiaomi and ZTE.

As part of the new deal, Apple will make iPhones designed to operate on China Mobile's TD-SCDMA and TD-LTE wireless networks.

China Mobile is currently in the process of rolling out 4G services in 16 cities across the country including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen although most of its customers subscribe to less expensive 2G and 3G plans. By the end of 2014, China Mobile said its 4G network will reach more than 340 cities.

Apple will begin taking pre-orders on Wednesday. The new phones will be sold in China Mobile's giant retail network as well as Apple's China stores.

No official prices have been set for China Mobile's iPhone 5s and 5c models, but it is believed they will also be offered unsubsidized forcing customers to pay full price for the phones -- estimated to run $700 and up.

-- Written by Gary Krakow.

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