China Telecom Cuts IPhone Price Ahead of China Mobile Release

China Telecom Corp., the nation’s third-largest wireless carrier, cut contract prices for Apple Inc.’s iPhone 5s by about 15 percent ahead of next week’s release of the device by larger rival China Mobile Ltd.

China Telecom is offering a combination of price reductions and gift packages that together amount to an 800 yuan ($132) off the list price of 5,288 yuan for a 16 gigabyte iPhone 5s, according to promotional material at the carrier’s Beijing retail locations today.

China Mobile, the world’s largest phone company with more than 763 million users, last month struck a deal to distribute iPhones after six years of negotiations. While China Mobile began taking pre-orders for the iPhone on Dec. 25, it won’t start selling the devices in stores until Jan. 17 and has yet to publish pricing and subsidy details for the handset. China Telecom has sold the iPhone since March 2012.

“It is the general practice of our company to roll out marketing promotion programs at appropriate times to enhance the business growth,” Jacky Yung, a Hong Kong-based spokesman for China Telecom said in an e-mail today.

For subscribers to a service plan that costs 189 yuan a month, the new China Telecom promotion cuts the cost of the iPhone by 400 yuan, to 4,888 yuan. Users also receive a free giftpack with accessories including an iPhone case and external battery pack valued by the carrier at 400 yuan.

Apple sells the device at its stores in Beijing for 5,288 yuan.

China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd., the nation’s second-largest carrier that began offering the iPhone in November 2009, hasn’t announced any iPhone promotions ahead of the China Mobile release. The carrier has a variety of two- and three-year service plans for the device that start with a list price of 5,499 yuan for the handset.

— With assistance by Edmond Lococo

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