Just a few days after Chinese regulators approved the iPhone 5 for sale in the country, Apple on Friday announced its aggressive launch schedule for releasing the iPhone 5, iPad Mini, and fourth-generation iPad with Retina Display (also known as "iPad 4") in China within the coming weeks.
Apple will release the iPad Mini and iPad 4 in China on Friday, Dec. 7. Just one week later, Apple will release the Phone 5 in China on Friday, Dec. 14.
Chinese customers will pay the same US prices -- or the equivalent in yuan -- for each Apple device. In the US, the iPhone 5 starts selling at $199, the basic iPad Mini with Wi-Fi starts at $329, and the most basic iPad 4 with Retina Display starts at $499.
Like the most recent iOS launch in China, Apple will take reservation requests for the iPhone 5, iPad 4 and iPad Mini on the Thursday before each launch, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time, for easy pick-up the following day.
Apple did not list any official carriers for LTE-capable iPhones or iPads, but China Telecom and China Unicom are both expected to sell the iPhone 5 upon launch. We are still waiting for official word from those companies.
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China is rarely ever one of the first countries to receive a new Apple product, but considering how the country is Apple's second largest market, accounting for $5.7 billion in revenue last quarter alone (roughly 16 percent of the pie), Apple expects an immense response, especially in a country so hot for electronics, particularly made by Apple. With the holidays fast approaching, Apple might have another record-breaking quarter on its hands, just like it did last year.
While the new iPads will certainly be quick-sellers, the main event will be the release of the iPhone 5 in China. This particular iPhone model has been in ridiculously high demand in the U.S. since its public release on Sept. 26; only recently did Apple reduce the shipping times for the iPhone 5 to one week.
About The iPad 4
The fourth-generation iPad is the fastest tablet Apple has built to-date.
While similar to the third-generation iPad with Retina Display released in March, the iPad 4 is faster than its predecessor in every single way.
With the all-new custom-built A6X chip, the iPad 4 has double the chip speed and graphics performance of the iPad 3's A5X chip, which was pretty impressive in its own right with a quad-core graphics processor. The A6X chip packs a lot of punch, which helps the iPad power its enhanced features in a quick and seamless way, including picture stabilization and face detection for both photo and video recording. The A6X, with all its power, is efficient enough to give owners 10 hours of solid "all-day" battery life.
If double the chip speed or graphics performance wasn't enough, the iPad 4 is makes significantly faster and stronger connections to Wi-Fi and cellular networks. Phil Schiller, Apple's senior VP of marketing, said iPad 4 owners will experience "ultrafast" Wi-Fi that doubles the connection speed of the older model, the iPad 3 -- and furthermore, for LTE customers, Apple has expanded the number of LTE frequencies supported by the iPad to include more carriers in Europe, Australia, and even here in the US, such as Sprint-Nextel.
iPad fans will only notice a few noticeable differences in the outer appearance of the iPad 4 versus previous iPads, including the smaller 8-pin Lightning connector on the bottom of the tablet.
Apple starts selling the new iPad 4 at $499 for Wi-Fi only and $629 for LTE-capable models. Check out this article if you want to see what critics had to say about the iPad 4 (spoiler: it's mostly positive).
About The iPad Mini
The iPad Mini, launched Nov. 2, features the same non-Retina resolution as the iPad 2 (1024 x 768), weighs just 0.68 pounds -- as light as a notepad -- and measures just 7.2 mm thick -- roughly the thinness of a pencil.
The iPad Mini is powered by Apple’s dual-core A5 chip, which was “fast” in 2011 but sluggish now compared to the A5X chip, A6 chip and all-new A6X chip introduced over the past year. The iPad Mini doesn’t need a lot of power to function -- the iPad 2 manages just fine with the A5 chip -- but the specs of the iPad 2 simply don’t compare to where technology is currently.
Besides the difference in size, the iPad Mini can do everything a full-sized iPad can do. It still runs on iOS 6, Apple's latest mobile operating system, and is compatible with the new Lightning dock connector. However, even though Apple sells "cellular" models of the iPad Mini, this new smaller tablet does not support the high-speed LTE network.
For the Wi-Fi-only iPad Mini, Apple sells 16GB models for $329, 32GB for $429 and 64GB for $529. For iPad Minis that work on both Wi-Fi and cellular frequencies, Apple sells those models separately at $459 for 16GB, $559 for 32GB and $659 for 64GB.
About The iPhone 5
The iPhone 5, Apple’s sixth-generation smartphone, is 18 percent thinner than its predecessor (the iPhone 4S) at just 7.6mm, and is 20 percent lighter than the 4S at 112 grams. The iPhone 5 features a bigger 4-inch screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio for watching videos in full widescreen, and Apple has again made its new in-cell display a Retina Display, with a screen resolution of 1136 x 640 screen and a density of 336 ppi.
The iPhone 5’s screen, according to an extensive analysis by Amherst, N.H.-based DisplayMate, is actually a “significant improvement” over the smaller screens in the iPhone 4S and 4 and is also substantially brighter and more accurate than the screen in Samsung’s Galaxy S3, which many consider to be the greatest rival to Apple and the iPhone 5. Read the full lab comparison here.
The iPhone 5 is also the first Apple phone to feature the high-speed Long-Term Evolution, or LTE, network. Currently, the global LTE carriers supporting this phone include AT&T, Bell, Sprint, Verizon, Telus, Deutsche Telekom, Telstra, EE and SingTel -- as well as a number of regional carriers like Cricket, C Spire, Nex-Tech Wireless, MTA Solutions, nTelos and a slew of others.
The general theme of the iPhone 5 is speed: In addition to support for the LTE network, the iPhone 5 also features a custom-built A6 processor, which actually boasts more than twice the overall processing performance of any iOS device that has come before it, including the third-generation iPad, as well as a newly enhanced camera infrastructure and the new 8-pin Lightning dock connector. The iPhone 5 is powered by iOS 6, which features more than 200 new features for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, including several enhancements to its virtual personal assistant, Siri, the handy application for movie tickets and coupons called Passbook and the completely redesigned -- albeit half-baked -- Maps application from Apple.
Apple sells the iPhone 5 in two color combinations -- black and slate, or white and silver -- and at three different storage capacities: The cheapest iPhone 5 comes with 16 GB of space and sells for $199, and after that, it’s $299 for 32 GB and $399 for 64GB. Apple will likely sell the phone at a slightly more expensive price point in China, as it does with several other countries in Europe and South America.
The iPhone 5 is currently available in 47 countries, while the iPad Mini and iPad 4 are available in 42 countries around the world.