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Apple's iPhone 5 gets final approval for China release

Customers walk out of a store selling and advertising Apple products, including both the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5, in central Beijing September
Customers walk out of a store selling and advertising Apple products, including both the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5, in central Beijing September

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Apple Inc's latest iPhone has received final clearance from Chinese regulators, paving the way for a December debut in a highly competitive market where the lack of a new model had severely eroded its share of product sales.

China is Apple's second-largest market and its Chinese fans are eagerly awaiting the latest model of its smartphone, the iPhone 5, which was released in the United States in September.

Apple has said that the iPhone 5 will be released in China in December, but the long wait caused Apple's smartphone market share to halve to 10 percent in the second quarter as users switch brands or hold out for the latest model, data from industry research firm IDC showed in August.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority, under China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, showed two iPhone 5 models on its website that received approval on Thursday. The two are the A1429, a WCDMA model that runs on China Unicom's network, and the A1442, a CDMA model that runs on China Telecom Corp's network.

The chairman of China Unicom, the country's second-largest mobile carrier, said early this month that it expected to start selling the iPhone 5 this year as it aims for a major boost in 3G users to 100 million by the year-end, up from 67 million in the first nine months.

Many users on Sina Corp's Weibo, China's most popular microblogging platform, cheered the imminent arrival of the latest iPhone. "I'm all ready! The iPhone 5 is coming!" said one.

(Reporting by Melanie Lee; Editing by Edmund Klamann)

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