The iPhone 5 may soon be heading to China, the Wall Street Journal reported today.
Citing a regulatory website, the paper said a device resembling the sixth-generation smartphone received approval for a "network access" license in the region.
In September, China Unicom said it would offer the iPhone 5 by year's end. According to the Journal, Chinese regulators have approved licenses for an iPhone 5 that would run on the networks of China Unicom and China Telecom, which started offering the iPhone 4S in March.
Neither Apple nor China Telecom immediately responded to a request for confirmation.
The Journal said the lag time between a U.S. and Chinese launch of Apple products is due, in part, to Cupertino's need to focus on its hometown market, in addition to the country-specific testing and licensing needed to release a smartphone in China.
Still, when the iPhone 5 was launched in September, it hit shelves in countries like Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong, but not powerhouse China. The iPhone 4S reached China in January, along with 21 other countries, including Bolivia, the British Virgin Islands, the Central African Republic, Guam, Kenya, Senegal, and Uganda.
China is a rather large dot on Apple's radar. The company's summer sales slipped in the country, a glitch CEO Tim Cook attributed to seasonality, and the lack of new iPad numbers. But by October, Cook told analysts that Apple had a "fantastic quarter" as it relates to China. Sales of the iPad were up 45 percent in the third quarter, while iPhone sales jumped 38 percent, he said.
"That brings us to a full year fiscal year revenue number of $23.8 billion for China which is really phenomenal," Cook said during an Oct. 25 earnings call. "When you think about it, that's up over $10 billion year on year, [or 78 percent], and Greater China now represents about 15 percent of Apple for the fiscal year and so we're extremely happy with how we've done in China."
"We are continuing to invest in our own retail stores there, we continue to expand distribution in with channel partners as well, and we continue to see it as a extremely exciting market with more and more people wanting Apple product," Cook said.