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After 200,000 pre-orders, iPhone 4S goes on sale through China Telecom

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China Telecom has started selling the iPhone 4S free with a two-year contract, breaking China Unicom's monopoly on the phone.

China Telecom iPhone 4S
China Telecom iPhone 4S

Users of China Telecom, the country's third-largest mobile carrier, have reason to celebrate: the long-anticipated iPhone 4S has gone on sale today through the network. The launch of China Telecom's 4S on its CDMA network marks the end of China Unicom's monopoly on iPhones, two months after it made the first 4S phones available. During a launch ceremony in Shanghai, the company announced that 200,000 people had ordered the phone in the week before its launch, a number it said was larger than expected. Much like China Unicom, China Telecom will offer the iPhone 4S free with a two-year contract of 389 yuan ($62 US) a month. There are some minor differences between the two carriers — China Telecom's version of the iPhone 4S, for example, won't offer simultaneous voice and data service.

China Telecom currently has 129 million mobile subscribers, putting it behind China Unicom and China Mobile in subscription numbers. Even so, it's far larger than its American counterparts — Verizon, for example, had around 109 million subscribers at the end of last year. Especially given the size of China Telecom's user base, the number of iPhones pre-ordered is lower than it was in the US: while we don't know exactly how many were purchased through each carrier, Apple topped a million 4S pre-orders within 24 hours through Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T. China Unicom, meanwhile, has declined to reveal how many of the phones it's sold.