Apple's iPhone 4S is coming to Sprint, according to rumors circulating after a report by the blog 9to5Mac. Sprint has previously focused on high-end Android smartphones.
In addition to pushing out yet another generation of high-end
Android smartphones, Sprint is apparently testing a version of Apple's iPhone
for its network. At least, that's the rumor currently drifting around the Web,
which has its genesis in a report on the Apple-centric blog 9to5Mac.
"The physical design of the device is akin to the iPhone 4
of today, so this might be the iPhone 4S device with support for all carriers
that we have been dreaming up and hearing whispers about," read the blog's June 8
posting on the matter. "Apple is said to have ordered Sprint-compatible
cell towers for use on their campus-for testing-in late 2010."
The blog added that the Sprint iPhone in testing "does not
feature support for 4G bands."
AT&T and Verizon currently offer the iPhone in the
United States. If AT&T succeeds in acquiring T-Mobile for $39 billion in
cash and stock, it would make Sprint the only carrier in this country without
Apple's bestselling smartphone in its portfolio. Sprint has been arguing
strenuously against AT&T's plans.
"AT&T is simply seeking a government bailout for
problems of its own making and expects the cost of the bailout to be shouldered
by American consumers," read a May statement by Vonya McCann, senior vice
president of government affairs for Sprint. "Instead of paying Deutsche
Telekom [owners of T-Mobile] $39 billion, AT&T could invest a fraction of
that amount to expand its LTE deployment to nearly all Americans."
For the past few months, Sprint executives have remained
notably tight-lipped about any potential iPhone deal. When asked about that
possibility during the carrier's most recent earnings call, Sprint CEO Dan
Hesse suggested he was unable to comment on "potential discussions" with any
suppliers, before joking: "What is it, like the fifty-fifth time I've been
Sprint currently offers a line of 4G smartphones with some
unique aesthetics and features. During a high-profile June 9 event in New York
City, the carrier introduced two new Android devices: the Motorola Photon 4G, a
touch-screen device with a dual-core processor and Android 2.3, and the
Motorola Triumph, an Android 2.2 device for Virgin Mobile. Both devices will be
available this summer, at an unannounced price point.
The Photon is Sprint's first dual-core smartphone. It
features a 4.3-inch screen and a powerful 8-megapixel rear camera. Via the
Webtop application (and a special smartphone dock), Photon users can access and
create content on a larger screen. It also boasts a kickstand for hands-free
viewing, presumably for those smartphone users who like to use their devices
for watching movies and television shows while on the move.
Rumors suggest that Apple will ship the iPhone 5 sometime in
the fall timeframe, meaning that production for the device will ramp up
sometime in either July or August. Sources have also hinted to other
publications that the smartphone will hit store shelves sometime closer to the
end of 2011.
Rumored features of the iPhone 5 include an A5 processor,
more powerful cameras, and perhaps NFC (near-field communication) technology,
which would allow the smartphone to act as an electronic wallet. All those
features would give Apple the capability to compete more fiercely against the
higher-end Android smartphones, whose hardware and software are becoming
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.