While the licenses for the commercial TD-LTE services are still few days or weeks away, China Mobile has officially started the sales of its first 4G smartphones today.
On a very limited basis, through the 10 retail stores of its Beijing affiliate, China Mobile is now offering Samsung Galaxy Note II and Sony M35t (known Xperia SP elsewhere) contract free, and with a number of 2 year 4G LTE contracts.
Unsubsidized China Mobile LTE Galaxy Note 2 goes for 4999 Yuan ($820), while Sony M35t will set you back 2999 Yuan ($491), while 4G contract plans range from 18 to 328 Yuan a month.
Since this is not an official launch, the phone selection is very limited, and iPhone 5S/5c didn’t make the cut. But with 4G TD-LTE handsets now on sale, the launch of China Mobile commercial 4G services, with iPhone 5S as a hero device, can not be too far away. A number of Chinese sites now report that according to sources from Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the date when the 4G licenses will be issued has now been set. Though they don’t know what it is.
Meanwhile, if you are in China and want to try 4G LTE, you can opt for iPhone 5S/Cs smuggled in from Hong-Kong. It seems that some enterprising Chinese hackers managed to break the 4G restrictions, and after applying a patch you can use the new iPhones on China Mobile’s experimental 4G networks in Guangzhou and Beijing.