Could Sprint really get an exclusive on the iPhone 5

first_imgJust when I thought there was no more room for surprises relating to tomorrow’s iPhone announcement, we get a couple of doozies. Actually, it’s more like one big piece of legit-sounding iPhone news, and another that is so bizarre that it could be right at home in the National Enquirer.First, the Wall Street Journal claims that Sprint is betting the farm on the iPhone, and has agreed to purchase $20 billion worth of Apple’s smartphones over the next four years.$20 billion is a pretty big number, but when you consider the source’s history with Apple leaks, along with the gap in market share between Sprint and AT&T/Verizon, it makes sense that they would put all of their marbles into the iPhone. It’s looked likely for some time that Sprint would be getting the next iPhone, so this mostly serves to accentuate just how much the carrier is willing to bet on it.In the second story, BGR wins the prize for the most surprising iPhone 5 rumor of the day by claiming that Sprint has entered into a deal with Apple to get the iPhone 5 exclusively. I would completely dismiss it as pre-announcement insanity, but it’s too crazy for anyone to publish unless they believed they had very legitimate information. BGR’s Jonathan Geller even acknowledges that he never would have believed it if it wasn’t from such a trusted source.We’ll tackle that in a moment, but, first, the details: the rumor has AT&T and Verizon getting an iPhone 4S with the same basic design as the iPhone 4. This model would include an updated A5 chip (as expected), better cameras (also expected), NFC, and metal or plastic replacing the glass back of the iPhone 4.Sprint, on the other hand, would get the redesigned iPhone 5 all to itself. This model would sport a larger (4-inch) screen, a faster processor, more RAM (1GB), and 32GB of storage. Oh, and did we mention it would have WiMax? Yes, the WiMax that Sprint is currently phasing out. That’s where this rumor seems to lose credibility for most people.The report also has Sprint’s iPhone getting the Siri Assistant (the voice recognition feature from Nuance) exclusively. If true, that would help explain why Assistant was held back from any of the iOS 5 betas. It would supposedly also have a redesigned home button, which may support gestures (or include a secondary button) for use with Assistant.Will’s OpinionDo I think the Sprint one has any legs? I’m going to say almost certainly not. The almost is there because, before you get to the WiMax part, it sounds nearly plausible. Apple would get loads of guaranteed iPhone sales for years. They would also single-handedly shake up the wireless market. Sprint would certainly gain ground and would threaten the AT&T/Verizon duopoly. This could only translate into increased negotiating power for Apple.Along with the head-scratching WiMax detail, though, is the question of whether Apple would be willing to risk losing many iOS customers to Android. If I’m on Verizon or AT&T, and I’ve been saving my upgrade for the iPhone 5, would I switch to Sprint? Maybe, but I might also decide that this is the time to get a Galaxy S II or a Droid Bionic. It would be a questionable move on Apple’s part.Have you digested all of that yet? If nothing else, such an over-the-top rumor will serve to keep us on our toes for tomorrow’s announcement. We wouldn’t want to get too comfortable thinking we know everything about the next iPhone, would we?with reporting by Sascha Seaganlast_img

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