Apple's iPhone 5 and newest iPads head for sale in China

A crowd of Chinese people wait outside an Apple Store in Beijing to buy an iPhone 4.
Credit: Michael Kan, IDGNS

Apple's iPhone 5 is slated for a December 14 launch in China, one of the company's biggest markets, and the company's iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad will start selling in the country a week earlier on December 7.

The company announced the release dates on Friday, just a day after two models of Apple's iPhone 5 passed the final hurdle in a series of Chinese regulatory checks.

Apple's iPhone has been one of the most popular smartphones among consumers in China, creating long lines outside of company stores in Beijing and Shanghai on the first day of sales. But unlike previous iPhone launches where it was first-come first-served, Apple is using a reservation system this time around to sell the device at its company stores in China.

Previously, skirmishes have erupted at one Apple store in Beijing located in the city's Sanlitun district because of iPhone demand. In January, a customer threw eggs at the store after Apple abruptly canceled the iPhone 4S launch at the outlet, without giving a reason. The incident caused Apple to then temporarily suspend all iPhone 4S launches at its physical stores in Shanghai and Beijing.

Apple said that for now, only the Wi-Fi models of its iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad will go on sale in the country. Apple's iPad dominated China's tablet market with a 71 percent share in the third quarter, according to research firm Analysys International.

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