iPhone models go on sale in Japan -->
TOKYO, Sept. 20 -- (Kyodo) _ (EDS: TO BE UPDATED)
Apple Inc.'s newest iPhone models went on sale Friday in Japan ahead of its debut in the United States later in the day, with Japan's largest mobile phone carrier NTT Docomo Inc. launching the popular handset series for the first time.
A three-way battle to attract subscribers between NTT Docomo and its rivals Softbank Mobile Corp. and KDDI Corp., which already offer iPhones, is likely to further intensify in Japan, where the iPhone is proving extremely popular.
The two new models are the premier iPhone 5s, which features a fingerprint security sensor that can unlock the handset, and the lower-priced iPhone 5c.
NTT Docomo offers the 16-gigabyte iPhone 5s effectively for free with a two-year contract by discounting monthly fees, and the same discount will be applied for both 16- and 32-gigabyte models of the iPhone 5c.
KDDI and Softbank Mobile also offer the 16-gigabyte versions of the iPhone 5s and 5c effectively for free with two-year contracts, but only to new subscribers.
NTT Docomo has seen an exodus of its subscribers who wanted to own iPhones. The company had long been reluctant to introduce the iPhone as Apple is said to have strong influence in pricing and supplies, but it came to terms with the U.S. tech giant, which also faces tough market conditions overseas in a battle with South Korea'sSamsung Electronics Co.