The iPhone 5 launch is presumably just a few weeks away and we're still not sure if Apple is planning on releasing an upgraded iPhone 4 (i.e an iPhone 4S) or a device with a completely new form factor (i.e an iPhone 5).
One thing that does seem clear, though, is that Sprint this Fall will finally begin carrying the iPhone after 4 long and lonely years without it.
The evidence is, at this point, overwhelming - though a few specific questions linger.
A few months ago, Apple put up a job posting looking for a carrier engineer in the Overland Park, Kansas area. Pretty innocuous until you realize that that's where Sprint HQ is located. That was soon followed up with reports that Apple had installed mini cell towers from Sprint to put the planned Sprint iPhone through advanced testing.
More recently, and admittedly circumstantial, Sprintfeed relayed an internal corporate memo from Sprint relaying that employees will be precluded from taking vacations from September 30th through October 15th "due to the possibility of a major phone launch."
Major phone launch, eh?
Not so coincidentally, a number of independent sources, including the CEO of France Telecom, have relayed over the past few weeks that the iPhone 5 will launch in mid-October.
Ever since the iPhone first launched, each successive model has been more popular than the previous version. Over the past four year, AT&T, and more recently Verizon, have snatched up millions upon millions of new subscribers thanks to the iPhone.
That said, if we assume Sprint is going to carry the fifth-generation iPhone, it'll be entering a market where the bulk of iPhone users are either already tied to existing contracts or are contemplating new contracts with their existing carriers. As a result, Sprint faces an uphill battle in the important fight for new subscribers and customer retention.
Consequently, it comes as no surprise that Sprint, in an effort to play catchup with both AT&T and Verizon, will reportedly offer the next-gen iPhone with unlimited data plans. You might recall that AT&T and Verizon both, at one point, had similar plans but decided to scrap them in favor of tiered data plans on account of traffic issues.
Sprint, the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier, plans to begin selling the device in mid-October under a deal with Apple for the next model, the iPhone 5, said the people, who wouldn’t be identified because the plans aren’t public. Becoming the country’s only operator to offer the device with unlimited data service for a flat fee may help Sprint draw customers from AT&T and Verizon Wireless, which already carry the phone, they said.
Adding more speculative fuel to the fire, TUAW earlier this week reported that Sprint will carry the iPhone 4 this Fall but won't carry the iPhone 5 until 2012. At this point, though, if you're a Sprint customer, the iPhone 4 is a whole lot better than nothing.
Lastly, it's worth pointing out that TUAW also relays that the iPad 2 might be coming to Sprint sometime this Fall as well.
So to sum things up, if you've been an interested iPhone/iPad user who for whatever reason has been unable to leave Sprint, the holiday shopping season appears to be coming a little bit sooner than usual this year.