Page last updated at 10:39 GMT, Friday, 28 August 2009 11:39 UK

China signs deal to sell iPhones

iphone (AP)
iPhones have taken the mobile phone market by storm

Mobile operator China Unicom has signed a deal with Apple to launch the popular iPhone into the world's largest mobile phone market.

The phones are expected to go on sale in China later this year.

State-owned Unicom would be the first Chinese phone company to formally support the iPhone, although many unlocked iPhones are already in use.

China has more than 600 million mobile phone accounts and a deal to introduce the iPhone has been long-awaited.

Apple said the two partners had agreed a "multi-year deal" and expected the launch to be in the fourth quarter of 2009, but gave no financial details.

"We believe China Unicom's high-speed mobile broadband network, coupled with [the iPhone] will create new communication and different experiences for customers in China," said Unicom chairman Chang Xiaobin.

Apple sold 5.2 million iPhones between April and June this year, seven times more than a year earlier.

The sales helped to push quarterly profits at the US technology giant to $1.2bn (£735m).

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