China Unicom (CHU +0.6%) says its iPhone 5S/5C (AAPL -2.6%) reservations have topped 100K since it began taking them last week. Last year, Unicom took 200K+ iPhone 5 reservations in the phone's first two days of availability.
Meanwhile, China Telecom (CHA +2.5%) has cut its iPhone subsidies. A subscriber signing up for an RMB289/month ($47/month) plan will get an iPhone 5S subsidy of RMB2890, 15% less than the RMB3400 subsidy it provided for the iPhone 5. It's worth noting CHA's ARPU is below $10.
The Chinese figures come amidst sharp criticism of the 5C's unsubsidized pricing, which starts at $735 in China. For reference, upstart Xiaomi's new Mi3 flagship Android phone (5" 1080p display, 13MP camera) starts at $327 in the Middle Kingdom.
On the other hand, Japanese carriers are aggressively subsidizing the 5S in the wake of NTT DoCoMo's (DCM +0.7%) iPhone deal. DoCoMo, SoftBank (SFTBF.PK), and KDDI are each providing the 5S for free with 2-year contracts for certain plans.
Kantar Japan recently estimated 2/3 of DoCoMo subs who have been leaving the carrier ended up buying an iPhone.
Also: Bernstein thinks Apple could still come out with a cheaper iPhone in the form of a sub-$400 iPhone 4C that puts the iPhone 4's components inside a 5C body.