China Unicom to start selling iPhone 3G next month

Apple’s iPhone 3G smartphone will go on sale in China in October, operator China Unicom said on Monday.

The iPhone 3G will go on sale in October for around 5,000 yuan (US$733), the operator said, without offering specific pricing for the two iPhone 3GS models, which have storage capacity for 16GB and 32GB of data, respectively.

The Chinese version of the iPhone 3G, which does not include Wi-Fi networking support, will be offered with eight different service plans, which range in price from 126 yuan to 886 yuan per month, China Unicom said. These packages will include 450MB to 4GB of mobile data access, 120 to 880 SMS messages, 15 to 95 MMS messages, and between 320 to 3,000 minutes of talk time.

Details of all eight pricing plans were not available, and it was not immediately clear if iPhone 3G customers would pay the full retail price with all of these plans.

China Unicom reached a three-year agreement with Apple in August to be sell the iPhone in China, a market with huge potential growth opportunities for Apple’s smartphone.

The Chinese launch of the iPhone 3G closely tracks the commercial launch of China Unicom’s 3G service, which is based on WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) technology. The 3G service officially starts operations on Oct. 1, which is a national holiday and the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

In addition to the iPhone 3G, China Unicom will offer a Samsung Electronics smartphone based on Google’s Android operating system. That handset will be available in December and will be priced at around 4,500 yuan, the operator said.

Updated on Sept. 29 to correct a reporting error that misstated the name of the iPhone 3GS.

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