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Friday, August 06, 2010, 02:00 am PT (05:00 am ET)

Wi-Fi enabled iPhone 3GS coming to China Unicom on Monday

China Unicom said Friday it would begin selling Apple's iPhone 3GS with Wi-Fi on Monday.

Wen Baoqiu, a spokesman for China Unicom, announced that starting Monday the Beijing-based telecom operator will offer an 8-gigabyte model of the iPhone 3GS with Wi-Fi capability. 16- and 32-gigabyte versions without Wi-Fi will continue to be available as well.

Prior to the initial launch of the iPhone in October 2009, China temporarily banned the IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi standard in an effort to promote its alternative WAPI standard. The ban was relaxed in May 2009, but not before manufacturing of the China-specific iPhone had already begun.

China Unicom's iPhone launch sold just 5,000 handsets in its first 4 days. Lacking what was seen as a key feature, the official iPhone struggled to gain momentum against a well-developed Chinese 'gray market,' which offered full-featured imported iPhones. Sales of the China Unicom iPhone eventually picked up, reaching 100,000 units in December.

In July, Chinese regulators posted an approval notice of a Wi-Fi iPhone, although the approval appeared to be for the iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS, not the iPhone 4. Chinese consumers seeking to obtain an iPhone 4 will have to look to Hong Kong, where it was released on July 30, while they wait for a Mainland release date.