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Apple to launch iPhone 4S in China and 21 more countries January 13

The iPhone 4S is set to launch in China and 21 additional countries across the world on Friday, Jan. 13, as Apple continues the rapid international roll-out of its latest smartphone.

Apple announced the forthcoming debut of the iPhone 4S in China in a press release on Wednesday. The announcement brings to an end months of speculation as the device made its way through China's regulatory approval process.

"Customer response to our products in China has been off the charts," Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said in a statement. "With the launch in China next week, iPhone 4S will be available in over 90 countries making this our fastest iPhone roll-out ever."

In addition to China, Jan. 13 will also mark the launch of the iPhone 4S in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Botswana, British Virgin Islands, Cameroon, Cayman Islands, Central African Republic, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Grenada, Guam, Guinea Conakry, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Niger, Senegal, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos and Uganda.

The launch of the iPhone 4S in China in just over a week confirms an earlier report that indicated Apple's latest handset would launch on the mainland before the Chinese New Year on Jan. 23. Rumors have suggested that Siri, Apple's voice-controlled personal assistant service on the iPhone 4S, will gain support for Mandarin, the most popular form of the Chinese language, by March of 2012.

The iPhone 4S did debut in Hong Kong in the first week of November, and sold out within minutes. Some regional branches of China Unicom in mainland China had been taking advance bookings for the iPhone 4S for weeks in anticipation of the device's launch as it goes through China's approval process.

The previous major launch date for the iPhone 4S came last month, on Dec. 16, when the device went on sale in Brazil, Taiwan, Russia and more, totaling more than 20 countries in a single day. It's been the fastest international roll-out ever for a new iPhone model from Apple.