Apple kicks off sales of cellular-enabled iPad mini in China

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Apple on Friday started sales of its iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular in China, keeping to the company's planned rollout in the country announced earlier this week.

With the device's rollout, China now has access to Apple's complete lineup of cellular-enabled mobile devices which include the latest iPhone 5 and fourth-generation iPad. Apple announced on Monday that Chinese customers would be able to purchase the cell data network-connected iPad mini on Friday local China time.

China is widely viewed as a key player in Apple's growth over the coming years, especially in regard to handsets and tablets. The country's number one carrier China Mobile is also the world's largest wireless provider by subscribership, but Apple has yet to strike a partnership deal with telecom. Currently, the Cupertino, Calif., company has two partner carriers in the region with China Telecom and China Unicom, both of which provide service for the iPhone and cellular-enabled iPads.

It remains to be seen how strong demand will be for the wireless iPad mini in China, but the Wi-Fi version's launch in December was relatively quiet compared to previous device launches mostly due to the institution of a reservation-only purchasing system.

Prices for the wireless iPad mini, dubbed iPad mini WLAN + Cellular, start at 3,488 yuan (about $560) for a 16GB model and top out at 5,088 yuan (about $820) for a 64GB version. The Chinese Apple Online Store is currently showing two-week wait times for all iPad mini models.