iPhone 6 Release Date More Likely on Q3 2014 as Apple Seals Giant Deal with China Mobile

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By Erik Pineda | December 23, 2013 6:27 PM EST

The iPhone 6 release date is likely to happen on the second half of 2014 as the first iOS phablet is assured of wider audience reach thanks to the freshly-forged partnership between Apple and China Mobile.

In a statement released on Sunday, Apple confirmed that its long-running negotiations with China Mobile, the world's biggest telco in terms of number of subscribers, has been concluded and will lead to existing iPhone models becoming officially available through the Chinese network service provider.

According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, "Apple has enormous respect for China Mobile and we are excited to begin working together."

"China is an extremely important market for Apple and our partnership with China Mobile presents us the opportunity to bring iPhone to the customers of the world's largest network," the Apple big boss was quoted by Apple Insider as saying.

Potentially, the agreement would open the door for Apple to tap into China Mobile's huge customer base, which at the last count numbers to some 760 million, spanning mainland China and the sprawling country's adjacent regions.

The business partnership between Apple and China Mobile is dubbed as multi-year agreement, indicating that beyond the current iPhone builds, the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C, the two firms will closely collaborate in ensuring that millions of Chinese mobile phone users will have easy access to upcoming iPhone models.

On that respect, the spotlight will be re-trained to the rumoured iPhone 6, which is expected to launch anytime between June and September, according to projections offered by various analysts.

While the Apple-China Mobile deal specifically mentioned selling the 5S and 5C beginning in January next year, Apple watchers are convinced that the accord is also forward-looking or going beyond what the tech giant is currently offering.

Besides, as noted by KGI Securities analyst Ming-chi Kuo in his latest note to investors, the iPhone 5C is not exactly a device that appeals strongly to Chinese consumers.

The 5C is not delivering the anticipated numbers in China so "we believe that weak sales of iPhone 5C may trigger a re-negotiation of the Apple-China Mobile partnership," the analyst was reported by Apple Insider as saying.

Note that the observation was made prior to Apple's announcement of its agreement with the Chinese telco.

Now that the deal is official, it is expected that the phablet-size iPhone 6 will be in China Mobile's service menu in 2014. Large screen smartphone is a big hit among Chinese mobile device users and with the assurance that it has a solid audience for the iPhone that will sport a screen size beyond its present 4-inch standard, Apple could be prodded to go ahead and make true of the wild speculations about its next big thing.

Per reports by Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal, Apple is already testing iPhone prototypes bearing screen between 4.5-inch and 6-inch.

However, Kuo is convinced that Apple will not go higher than 5-inch, noting that the iPhone maker would want to stick with screen size that is optimised for one-hand use.

Analysts have forecasted that with the Apple-China Mobile agreement, iPhone users in China could quickly jump to additional 20 million in 2014. But with the iPhone 6 included in the equation, the figures could easily jump.

Rumoured to showcase killer and game-changing features such as a 64-bit A8 CPU, a wraparound display panel and a solid Liquidmetal case that is coated in sapphire, the iPhone 6 release date is pegged for June 2014 at the earliest.

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