The iPhone 5 is packed with all sorts of neat new hardware internals that Apple has poured their energy and R&D dollars into. Its camera is ridiculously thin, and the processor has been custom designed and manually layed out for maximum efficiency, but there’s another new hardware feature no one’s talking about.
One secret of the iPhone 5 is that it contains a chip that may have been included just so it will work on the world’s largest mobile carrier – China Mobile – giving Apple access to 700 million new potential customers.
China Mobile’s 3G network uses a proprietary standard called TD-SCDMA. While previous iPhones haven’t supported TD-SCDMA, the iPhone 5 is carrying a Qualcomm modem that can communicate with China Mobile’s proprietary network, clearing the way for Apple to tap into China Mobile’s monstrous 700 million customer base.
Apple doesn’t have an agreement with China Mobile yet, but Tim Cook has visited the China Mobile home offices earlier this year to secure a deal. Apple currently offers the iPhone on China Unicom and China Telecom. Securing a deal with China Mobile could allow Apple to sell 20-30 million more iPhone in 2013.