China, the world's biggest mobile phone market, is finally getting Apple's iPhone later this year, after number-two carrier Unicom announced a deal on Friday.

The plans to sell the smartphone are unusual in that Unicom says it simply bought a quantity of iPhones from Apple and will not enter the usual revenue-sharing deal with the US firm.

Old model too

Instead, it will offer them at market-standard subsidised rates that are likely to see the 3GS model phone sell for around £200 with a new contract. Unicom says it will also sell the 2G model at the same time.

Pricing aside, the more significant aspect of the Chinese iPhone is that its Wi-Fi abilities will be removed, as had been previously rumoured.

Censor's hand?

The thinking is that state censorship plays some role in this - monitoring traffic over phone networks is simpler than keeping tabs on what's being accessed through sometimes-open wireless hot spots.

Unicom's move in crippling the device is being seen as a risk, considering that a million grey-market iPhones with Wi-Fi intact are already unlocked and in the hands of Chinese users.

Via Reuters