The iPhone 5 is off to a strong start at its latest carrier.
After kicking off preorders for the new phone early yesterday, China Unicom took in more than 100,000 online reservations by 4 p.m. local time, Chinese news site Sina Tech said today.
China's second-largest carrier will officially launch the iPhone 5 on December 14, following a promise that it would offer the device to its subscribers by year's end.
Some of the early buyers liked the simple reservation process as well as the phone, Sina Tech reported. Customers are asked to fill in their name, identity card number, and phone number. They select the capacity, size, and other options. Shipping is free.
China Unicom will sell the 16GB edition of the iPhone 5 for 5,288 yuan ($850), according to The Wall Street Journal's Marketwatch.
China Unicom joins China Telecom as the second Chinese carrier to sell the iPhone 5. But the nation's biggest carrier, China Mobile, remains without Apple's flagship phone.
Apple has been talking to China Mobile for several years about carrying the iPhone. However, the two have been unable to reach an agreement. The carrier has reportedly been seeking a cut of Apple Store revenue in exchange for selling the phone, an idea Apple has nixed.
China Mobile currently has almost 700 million customers, according to recent stats from Reuters. China Unicom has 230 million, while China Telecom trails the pack with 152 million.
China made up about 15 percent, or $23.8 billion, of Apple's total revenue for its latest fiscal year that ended in September. And the country is expected to generate even more business. Starting this month, the iPhone 5, iPad Mini, and fourth-generation iPad will be available in China through Apple's online and physical stores and various Apple resellers.
By the end of 2012, the new iPhone will be available in 100 countries.
Update, 10 a.m. PT: Adds price of iPhone 5 through China Unicom.