The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Sprint, No. 3 among the United States’ Big 4 wireless carriers, will finally have an iPhone to call its own. Sprint will begin selling the iPhone 5 in mid-October, the WSJ said, according to the normal “people familiar with the matter.” The timing seems to match the latest rumors on the launch of Apple’s next generation smartphone. The last set of rumors seem to indicate a launch sometime in October, with pre-orders beginning at the end of September.
Naturally, both AT&T and Verizon will ship the device at the same time. The last set of dates given were either Oct. 7 or Oct. 14, with Oct. 7 being seen as the date Apple is leaning toward.
The WSJ’s sources also said that Sprint will begin selling the iPhone 4 at the same time, which makes sense, as Apple typically sells the prior year’s model with a lower amount of storage and a analogously lower price.
The move will benefit both Sprint and Apple. For Sprint, it brings its lineup of smartphones to a level equal to both AT&T and Verizon, who sell both Android devices and iPhones. For Apple, it increases its carrier coverage, which it hopes will slow the continue upsurge in Android market share.
One unanswered question: will the Sprint version support WiMax, Sprint’s current version of 4G? We’d say no, just as we believe neither the Verizon nor AT&T versions will have their 4G technology, LTE, either. Battery life alone is a major stumbling block.
Sprint has been struggling of late, though not so much as T-Mobile. T-Mobile, assuming its acquisition by AT&T goes through, wouldn’t need its own iPhone. Sprint does.
Richard Doherty, director of the research firm Envisioneering Group, said “Sprint needs it. There are a lot of families that will embrace the iPhone.”
Sprint had more than 52 million subscribers at the end of the second quarter, which was less than 1/2 that of No. 1 U.S. wireless carrier Verizon, which had 106 million. AT&T had nearly 99 million subscribers.