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China Mobile's offer rings of Apple deal

Thursday, 12 Dec 2013 | 1:55 AM ET
'Curious': China Mobile takes iPhone 5S pre-orders
Thursday, 12 Dec 2013 | 4:19 AM ET
China Mobile has started taking pre-orders for Apple iPhone 5S, despite telling CNBC that negotiations are continuing and a deal has yet to be reached, reports CNBC's Eunice Yoon.

In the latest sign that Apple and China Mobile are close to striking a deal, China Mobile started taking pre-orders for Apple's iPhone 5S model in Beijing on Thursday morning.

According to China Mobile's website, customers could register for the new phones and get special data packages for ordering early. The website is advertising the carrier's new fast speed 4G service. China Mobile plans to unveil a new 4G brand at a conference in Guangzhou on December 18. In the morning, the website link specifically mentioned the iPhone 5S. However, after being contacted by CNBC, the website link has been altered to "mingxingji" which means "star phone" or "trendy phone".

(Read more: Apple's smartphone market share quadruples in China)

A China Mobile spokesperson said negotiations between the two companies are still in progress.

CNBC images

The website displays a golden Apple and what appear to be a gold, silver, and space grey iPhone 5S. The ad says "some things are worth waiting for". As of 2:30pm in Beijing, around 7,000 people had pre-ordered; each customer is limited to one phone.

(Read more: China opens door to Apple with new 4G mobile licences)

China Mobile is the nation's largest cell phone service carrier and has more than 700 million subscribers. Analysts say a deal with China Mobile would be key to Apple's future growth in the country.

— Additional reporting by Bo Gu.

— By CNBC's Eunice Yoon. Follow her on Twitter @eyoonCNBC

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