China Mobile is to release the closely-watched 3G Ophone next week, while rival China Unicom is to bring Apple's iPhone to China as soon as Friday, which may add fuel to the flames in the fiercely competitive Chinese market.

China Mobile,  is gearing up for an iPhone invasion as it line up deals for Android smartphones, first with Dell then with Taiwan's  HTC. Increasingly, these deals are with big-name suppliers, and especially, with Apple rivals.

Dell, the world's No. 2 maker of PCs, launched a handset called the Mini3i with OPhone OMS which supports apk,wgt and wdgt on August 17. The phone is to be released in China in cooperation with China Mobile.

HTC, which used to beat Apple to market with a touchscreen phone in Great Britain, is now the world's fourth-largest supplier of smartphones with a 6% share of the market, according to researcher Gartner.

A China Unicom spokeswoman said on Thursday the iPhone would undoubtedly be discussed on Friday when Unicom is set to hold a media briefing to discuss its results for the first half of 2009, but she did not say whether an agreement would be announced.

The aggressive 3G deployment plan is expected to defend iPhone's invasion into China and further establish China Mobile as the dominant player in the Chinese wireless market.

China, with some 687 million subscribers,  is the world's largest mobile market, compared with more than 270 million subscribers in the United States. Analysts say 192 million phones will be sold in China next year, up from 180 million this year.

China Mobile tops in mobile carriers in China with nearly 500 million subscribers, followed by China Unicom and China Telecom.