It took Apple a lot of time to ink a deal with China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile network which has more than 780 million subscribers. The iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s were the first Apple smartphones sold officially by the carrier after it fired up its TD-LTE network. Analysts believed that the new iPhones would bring in LTE subscribers for the carrier and it appears that they were right. China Mobile has announced that almost half of their 2.8 million 4G LTE subscribers are using iPhones.

The announcement came from China Mobile CEO Li Yue. Even though 2.8 million subscribers are a fraction when you look at the carrier’s total subscriber base it evidently shows that the iPhone is preferred by subscribers who are upgrading to feature-packed phones with LTE capability.

Even though China Mobile didn’t officially sell the iPhone there were already millions of iPhone owners on its 3G network. Yue didn’t say how many of Apple’s smartphones are running on 3G but the figure is believed to be quite high. Earlier this year in February China Mobile added one million iPhone subscribers to its network.

Getting its smartphones on China Mobile was considered vital for Apple as it looks to expand its presence in the People’s Republic. The company’s new retail chief, Angela Ahrendts, is rumored to be increasing Apple’s retail presence in China by opening as many as 20 new brick and mortar stores over the next two years.

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