The China Telecom iPhone

From an IDG News report on Sunday:

IPhone Built for China Telecom Gains Regulator Approval

A version of the Apple’s iPhone built for China Telecom’s networks has received approval from a Chinese regulator, putting the iconic smartphone closer in the hands of customers of the mobile operator.

It’s not clear if the device is the iPhone 4S, the latest version of the iPhone. The China Radio Management office said on its website that it gave approval to an Apple smartphone built for China Telecom’s CDMA2000 network.

While the report states that it is “not clear if the device is the iPhone 4S”, it most certainly is. A quick search on the database of approvals reveals the device to be model A1387, which is in fact the same iPhone 4S released in the rest of the world and the one that GSM provider China Unicom will begin offering on Friday.

Oddly enough, the report has been picked up without question by a number of different outlets, including mainstream publications such as The Wall Street Journal, CNET, and Bloomberg.

All of the reports seem to leave the incorrect impression that this mysterious A1387 iPhone (if they even identify the model) has been developed by Apple specifically to run on China Telecom’s network. What none of them consider is the fact that the device was approved so that China Unicom can offer it beginning on Friday.

The iPhone 4S approval really says little about China Telecom’s prospects for offering the device. It’s been clear since the iPhone 4S launch last year that it would run on China Telecom’s network, just as the now year-old CDMA iPhone 4 would. Yes, technically the iPhone 4S approval is one less hurdle for a China Telecom iPhone, but that approval was essentially a given and was driven by China Unicom’s needs, not China Telecom’s. The absence of a China Telecom iPhone has been and continues to simply be due to a lack of an agreement between Apple and the carrier.