**Editor's Note: Click here for our list of August's hottest selling smartphones to see how the iPhone fared against the competition, or here for our top 10 list of best smartphones in 2013 (so far).**
A rumored deal in the works between Apple and China Mobile could result in a skyrocketing number of mobile-phone shipments to the world's most populous nation.
It's long been anticipated that the Silicon Valley giant would deliver its iPhone to the globe's largest telecom operator and its 740 million subscribers. Apple has deals with smaller operators in China, but not the behemoth that has more than double the number of subs as Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile combined.
The IDC's China Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker reports 110 million mobile-phone shipments in China last quarter. Smartphone shipments reached 86 million, growing by 10 percent over the previous quarter.
"The smartphone market has maintained a two-digit quarter-on-quarter growth rate in Q2 due to two reasons," said Antonio Wang, associate director for client system research, imaging, printing and document solution research, Research Operation Center, IDC China. "First, the substantial shipments of low-end smartphones at a unit price of less than RMB 800 that support China Mobile's 3G network. Second, the shipments prepared by mobile phone vendors to meet the market demands of students during their summer vacation."
Sales of the iPhone 5 have been "sluggish," Wang said, helping to drive a sharp increase in low-end smartphones produced by companies like Lenovo. " ... but [Apple's] performance is expected to remarkably improve with the launch of the new iPhone," he added.
The new, less expensive iPhone 5c was tailored specifically for markets where fewer people can afford the priciest devices.
IDC forecasts that China's smartphone shipments will pass 360 million in 2013 mainly due to the subsidies of operators and the demand for consumers upgrading mobile phones. That number could hit 450 million next year — 120 million of which would support 4G networks.
Apple's iOS will also see rapid growth in 2014 as the IDC expects its market share to double that of 2013. The market share of five-inch-plus screen smartphones will continue to expand. The IDC forecasts that the market share for these phones will increase from 20 percent in 2013 to more than 50 percent in 2017.