Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) might be finally breaking down the Great Wall of China. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s share of the Chinese smartphone market increased from 6% in the third quarter to 7% in the fourth quarter of 2013. The WSJ is basing their story on just-released data from consumer research concern IDC.

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Improvement driven by iPhone 5S sales

According to the IDC data, the strong 18% quarter-over-quarter growth in market share for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is largely based on increased sales of the iPhone 5S. The iPhone 5C and 5S were launched simultaneously in the U.S., Europe and China in September of last year. It could be argued that Apple’s strong fourth quarter performance augurs well for the future given a slight slowdown in overall smartphone sales from 3Q to 4Q.

China is an Android market

Sales in China’s smartphone market are more than 90% Android models that are much less expensive than iPhones. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) 7% share only ranked it in fifth place among smartphone vendors in 4Q 2013.

Electronics giant Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (KRX:005930) held onto its No. 1 market  share spot in China with a 19% share in the fourth quarter, followed by Lenovo Group Limited (HKG:0992) with a 13% share. Coolpad and Huawei Technologies came third and fourth in the rankings, with 11% and 10% market share, respectively.

Upstart Xiaomi

Upstart smartphone maker Xiaomi came in sixth place with 6% of the market. That, however, is a big increase from just three years ago when Xiaomi first began selling smartphones. IDC analyst Melissa Chau said the upstart company could break into the top five in the near future. “[Xiaomi] is still rising, at some point it could come into top five on the growth path it’s on,” she commented.

Apple-China Mobile deal

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) also recently signed a deal to sell its products through China Mobile Ltd. (ADR) (NYSE:CHL) (HKG:0941), the Asian giant’s largest carrier with over 760 million subscribers. China Mobile just began selling iPhones Jan. 17th of this year, so no sales related to the newly inked deal have been reported yet.