China Telecom Starts Selling iPhone 4S, Receives Over 200,000 Pre-orders

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Major Chinese carrier China Telecom starts selling Apple’s iPhone 4S in China today, and the phone is available for sale at 2,850 retail outlets of China Telecom, and from local electronics retailers. Guess what, the carrier has taken more than 200,000 pre-orders, and still counting.

On an iPhone, you will see some text (model, serial number, country of origin, etc) printed on the back of the rear panel. Interestingly, we see an extra line of text saying “American Company Apple Inc. cdma2000 Digital Mobile Phone” on the rear panel of China Telecom’s iPhone 4S. For more photos of the phone, see the unboxing and hands-on gallery below.

Next, it is worth noting that the China Telecom iPhone 4S comes with new version of iOS, iOS 5.1. Users do not need to perform an update when they got the phone.

First, the data speed. iPhone 4S on China Unicom network supports 14.4 Mbps HSPA+ download speeds. Depending on where you live, you may never get anywhere near that speed in the real world, but the potential is there. For China Telecom, their EV-DO Rev. A 3G data speeds are theoretically limited to about 3.1 Mbps. So, China Telecom subscriber get slower 3G data on their iPhone 4S.

No Simultaneous Voice and Data

Next, China Telecom’s EV-DO Rev. A network does not support simultaneous voice and data the way HSPA and HSPA+ does for China Unicom.

That means if a call comes in while you’re using 3G data — surfing the web, sharing your connection via personal hotspot — you can either ignore the call and continue using 3G data, or answer the call and effectively put your 3G data connection on “pause”. If you’re on a call you won’t receive email or push notifications and if you try to surf the web or download an app you’ll be informed you’re not connected to the 3G network. Once the call ends, 3G data reconnects and you can start using the internet again.

If you’re on Wi-Fi as opposed to 3G data you can make calls and use data without a problem. It’s only 3G data that cuts out during calls.

In China, we have to insert UIM Card to a CDMA mobile phone. The UIM Card is a card developed for cdmaOne/CDMA2000 (“CDMA”) handsets that extends the GSM SIM card to CDMA phones and networks. Since China Telecom’s iPhone 4S is a CDMA2000 handset, users are required to insert an UIM Card to get the iPhone activated. Inserting a GSM micro SIM will not work at all. And here’s one thing to take note, China Telecom’s iPhone 4S is a world phone. It supports both CDMA and GSM wireless standards, and it can roam on all global networks.

The Verdict
China Telecom is actually playing Verizon’s iPhone role in China. As far as we know, China Telecom now has close to 130 million subscribers, and the carrier also boasts about having the largest CDMA network in the world by installed base. With over 200,000 pre-orders placed for the iPhone 4S, China Telecom is likely to emerge the victor in a looming iPhone war with China Unicom by offering both better prices and service.

One More Thing
The China Telecom iPhone 4S is available for sale at Apple’s China online store too.

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