China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced today it has approved licences for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus – almost three weeks after Apple launched the larger-screen device.

Reuters reported that the approval came after the MIIT conducted “rigorous security testing” and negotiations with Apple over potential security risks related to personal data.

There has been widespread speculation about the reasons behind the delayed approval. A week ago Mobile World Live reported that the handset was in the final stages of approval.

A statement from Apple said the new iPhones will be available to users in mainland China on Friday, October 17. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will go on pre-order starting October 10, with units available a week later at Apple Stores and all three major carriers.

The devices support both 4G flavours of LTE in the country – TD-LTE and FDD-LTE – and come with a premium price. The iPhone 6 will be available in gold, silver or space gray at a “suggested” retail price of CNY5,288 (US$861) for the 16GB model, CNY6,088 for the 64GB model and CNY6,888 for the new 128GB model. The iPhone 6 Plus comes in the same colours at a price of CNY6,088, CNY6,888 and CNY7,788.

By comparison, the cheapest iPhone 6 model in Hong Kong retails for $720, compared to China’s $861.

The iPhone 6 was available on 19 September to customers in five territories in Asia — Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan. China was the notable exception. A year ago, China was part of Apple’s simultaneous launch of the iPhone 5S in 11 ‘tier 1’ markets around the world.

The company reported sales of 10 million iPhone 6 models during its debut weekend, eclipsing the previous nine million record set by the iPhone 5s and 5c when they first went on sale last year.

Apple extended the availability of the iPhone 6 last week through Apple Stores and retail outlets, as well as online, to another 22 markets.

Last quarter sales of iPhones in China jumped 50 per cent after a 28 per cent rise in the previous quarter (fiscal Q2). The country now accounts for 15 per cent of Apple’s total revenue – from 2011 to 2013 Apple’s sales in the country doubled to $25.4 billion.