After what can only be described as a long and grueling courting period, Apple and China Unicom finally managed to strike a deal recently. For those who missed the news, the Chinese carrier has convinced Apple to issue a tweaked version of its popular handset with Wi-Fi disabled. How did China Unicom manage to convince Apple to build a special iPhone just for China? Well, the same way any company convinces Apple to do anything — a whole lot of cash. The International Business Times is reporting that China Unicom has purchased a whopping 5 million iPhone 3GS units in a preliminary order as the carrier prepares to launch the device next month. The order, totaling ¥10 billion ($1.46 billion USD), will put China Unicom’s launch inventory at nearly the same number of handsets Apple sold worldwide last quarter. In other words, the carrier is anticipating huge sales come September and wants to ensure its inventory is up to the task. According to China Unicom’s GM of Customer Development Yu Zaonan, Apple’s handset will be priced at ¥2,400 ($352 USD) for the 16GB model and ¥4,800 ($704 USD) for the 32GB model.

[Via AppleInsider]