As per the WSJ, China Mobile Shanghai's website was running an ad with the tagline, '4G is here!' and the ad was accompanied by three smartphones - one each from Apple, Samsung and Sony. The ad also invited potential buyers to pre-book the iPhone 5s along with the other two smartphones. Notably the ad was taken down from the site soon after WSJ tried to reach the China Mobile spokeswoman for a comment on the advertisement.
Further, the WSJ confirmed the news by speaking to a China Mobile customer representative, who said that the iPhone 5s could be pre-ordered from the operator starting this Thursday.
"Customers can begin to pre-order for our new 4G services from Dec. 12 through the company's website and some dedicated branches in Shanghai," the China Mobile customer service operator told WSJ. "But we will only start providing commercial 4G services after Dec. 18."
In addition, the mobile carrier customer representative also revealed that the company has not detailed the customer service teams about the pricing plans for the new iPhone(s).
Earlier, the Wall Street Journal claimed that China Mobile, the country's largest mobile operator, had signed a long-awaited deal with Apple Inc to offer iPhones on its network, citing an anonymous source familiar with the matter.
The report also revealed that the rollout of iPhones by the world's largest mobile carrier by users, with more than 700 million subscribers, could be expected to start on December 18 at China Mobile conference in the southern city of Guangzhou. A China Mobile representative claimed at the time that a deal had not been reached.
Analysts expect a deal with China Mobile to provide a fillip to iPhone sales, thanks to the operator's large customer base. According to some estimates Apple could sell as many as 24 million iPhones on the China Mobile network in 2014 if it were added to the network's formal line-up.