Will Apple’s iPhone 5 Be One Phone for All Mobile Networks?
When the iPhone 4 was made available on Verizon in January 2011, it was notable not just because it was the end of an era for AT&T, but also because the chip inside the Verizon iPhone also had the ability to support the CDMA network technology on Sprint. What’s more, Verizon never signed an exclusivity contract for a CDMA version of the iPhone, leaving Apple free to court whatever network it wanted for the new device. Fast forward seven months, and The Wall Street Journal is reporting the latest version of the iPhone will not only be available on AT&T and Verizon, but also on Sprint and T-Mobile networks.
The Wall Street Journal reports that people “familiar with the matter” have reported the iPhone 5 will indeed come to Sprint. That’s good news for Sprint, which has admitted it has not been doing as well as its competitors, partially because of the lack of the iPhone. A Sprint iPhone would be a massive boost to the No. 3 cell phone provider in the United States, especially since T-Mobile, which holds the No. 4 spot, has supported unlocked iPhones unofficially since the iPhone’s inception. Other reports even suggest T-Mobile will also get an official iPhone release this Fall.
Bigger picture? iOS Developer logs show Apple has started testing the iPhone 5 with App Store apps, and developers who have combed through reports find evidence of a dual-band iPhone 5, meaning the iPhone 5 may not just launch both Verizon and AT&T at the same time, but support both networks, (including Sprint and T-Mobile).
The Verizon iPhone 4 contains the hardware for dual-band mode (GSM and CDMA) but the feature was never turned on. However, if Apple was happy with the performance of the hardware with Verizon, it could easily add a SIM slot and make the feature available. It’s probably that same cell chip is in the iPhone 5.
My reasoning? It’s likely Apple will do this because it’s more economically sound for the company to do so. Instead of producing two different versions of a nearly identical phone, Apple can produce one phone that will work on all carriers’ networks and, more importantly, if the phones are unlocked, customers can take their iPhone to whatever network they want to, without having to buy a new phone. If that’s the case, it’s wonderful, because it means Apple is bucking the trend in mobile phones and looking after its loyal customers first.
The iPhone 5 is rumored for a late September or mid-October launch. As always, we’ll keep you posted.