China iPhone Shanghai March 2013
A woman speaks on her iPhone as she walks on a busy street in downtown Shanghai, 2013. Reuters

Apple Inc.’s (Nasdaq:AAPL) share of the Chinese smartphone market leaped to 12 percent in October, as the iPhone 5s has proven a hit in the country. Analysts expect the California-based company to become even more popular when China Mobile (NYSE:CHL), the nation’s largest mobile network by subscribers, begins to take pre-orders Thursday for iPhones.

This jump in market share makes Apple the third-biggest smartphone company in China, according to a new survey from technology market researcher Counterpoint. Just a month before, Apple only had a measly 3 percent of the Chinese smartphone market.

China Smartphone Market Shares
China Smartphone Market Shares Counterpoint

The 5s has become equally popular in other parts of the world, and was the best-selling phone worldwide during October. The high-end smartphone with a built-in fingerprint reader also makes up 10 percent of all iPhones in use, the analytics company Mixpanel said, and that the redesigned iOS7 operating system prompted a faster uptake compared to last year’s iOS6.

And rosier times are on the horizon for Apple, which has struggled until recently to make a splash in the Chinese market saturated with high-end competitor Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd (KRX:005930) and cheaper domestic brands like Xiaomi. In the next week, China Mobile, the biggest Chinese mobile operator with more than 750 million subscribers, will begin to carry iPhones. The state-owned company has previously operated on a 3G network that was slow and incompatible with Apple products.

October Sales
IPhone 5s was the best-selling phone in China in October. Counterpoint

With the China Mobile launch, iPhones will be available from all three Chinese operators – China Mobile along with China Unicom Limited (NYSE:CHU) and China Telecom Corporation Limited (NYSE:CHA), which have 391 3G subscribers eager to switch to the faster 4G network. The licenses were granted to the three companies last month.

“[Having] Apple iPhone 5s at all three carriers will for sure ignite a ‘price war’ boosting the overall iPhone 5s sales in China," said Tom Kang, a researcher at Counterpoint, according to the Guardian. “This might allow Apple to even reach the No.1 smartphone player in December or January in China.”