China Telecom (CHA.NYSE, 728.HKG) began selling Apple’s (AAPL.Nasdaq) iPhone in China last week, but analysts are skeptical that the US tech giant can expand its market share against Samsung Electronics (SMSD.LSE, 005930.SEO), Bloomberg reported. Apple has 7.5% of the smartphone market in China, compared to 24.3% for Samsung, according to data from the market research firm Gartner. The 16.8% gap nearly doubled from the third quarter, as Samsung has surged but Apple remained flat. Analysts say Apple’s performance may be due to its exclusive partnerships with China Telecom and China Unicom (CHU.NYSE, 600050.SH, 762.HKG), which has limited the firm to only 34% of China’s 988 million mobile phone users. “If Apple is going to continue to grow in the Chinese market, it has to consider very seriously a handset with China Mobile [the country’s largest mobile network operator],” said Teck Zhung Wong, an analyst at IDC China. Worldwide, Apple became the largest smartphone vendor in the fourth quarter.