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Apple rolls out TD-LTE iPad Air, Retina iPad mini for China Mobile

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Apple on Monday announced it has started sales of TD-LTE equipped iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display models in China, specifically granting China Mobile users access to next-generation 4G high-speed mobile Internet.

According to Apple, the new iPad models are compatible with the TD-SCDMA wireless standard, which is also used by the world's largest cellular carrier China Mobile. The tablets will join Apple's cellular-capable offerings for more common protocols like GSM/EDGE, HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA.

The debut marks the first tablet offering from Apple on China Mobile's somewhat rare TD-LTE network. Previous reports pointed to an inevitable agreement to bring the popular iPad lineup to the carrier after the two companies struck a similar deal for the iPhone.

Underscoring China Mobile's importance to Apple's growth model, the company is launching what amounts to bespoke iPad Air and Retina iPad mini versions with specialized RF chips to accommodate the TD-LTE protocol alongside GSM, UMTS and TD-SCDMA.

The tablets, complete with new model numbers, go on sale today with the 16GB iPad Air with WLAN + Cellular priced at 4,488 RMB (about US$577), 5,188 RMB (US$834) for 32GB and 5,888 RMB (US$947), 64GB model and 6,588 RMB (US$1059) for the 128GB model. The iPad mini with Retina display WLAN + Cellular models supporting TD-LTE start at 3,788 RMB (US$609) for the 16GB model, 4,488 RMB (US$721) for 32GB, 5,188 RMB (US$834) for 64GB and 5,888 RMB (US$947) for the 128GB version.