Apple has announced that it will be holding a special media event for Chinese journalists on Sept. 11, just ten hours after the company is expected to announce a next-generation iPhone lineup at its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.
The notices for Apple's Chinese event went out early Wednesday morning, inviting various media outlets to attend a special event in Beijing slated to begin at 10 a.m. local time on Sept. 11, reports SinaTech.
Identically designed invitations were sent to U.S. journalists on Tuesday for a Sept. 10 announcement, at which Apple is widely expected to unveil a next-generation "iPhone 5S," as well as a lower-cost model dubbed the "iPhone 5C."
If Apple does in fact debut new iPhones at both gatherings, it will be a significant departure from the company's usual product launches, illustrating the importance of the Chinese market. That a separate Chinese event has been planned lends credence to rumors regarding a less expensive iPhone model, which will reportedly keep costs down by adopting a plastic composite shell and current generation innards.
The so-called "iPhone 5C" could be a major boon for Apple in China, as cheaper handsets have been gaining popularity in the world's largest smartphone market. While not a premium offering like the anticipated iPhone 5S, which is rumored to come in a new "champagne" color to suit a shift in Chinese color preference, the 5C is expected to carry a price competitive in the upper mid-tier sector.
Apple has lost some ground recently to more affordable handsets made by local companies like Xiaomi, though the iPhone is not yet offered by China Mobile, the world's largest cellular carrier. Currently, only two operators carry the iPhone, previous exclusive partner China Unicom and, since 2012, China Telecom.