When the fifth-generation iPhone launches later this year, with it may come its third U.S. carrier, as sources now report that a Sprint iPhone is in advanced testing.
The device is currently being tested in Apple’s “black labs,” as well as with Sprint’s research & development department, and looks identical to the iPhone 4, according to sources for 9to5 Mac.
When it arrives on Sprint it will be capable of the same 3G wireless standards used in the iPhone today, and while the sources claim that Apple is currently developing an iPhone compatible with 4G networks, this is unlikely to launch before 2012. This ties in with previous rumors that the fifth-generation iPhone – due to launch later this year – will be labelled the iPhone 4S and will carry a wireless chip capable of connecting to multiple carriers.
Apple reportedly set up Sprint-compatible cell towers at its Cupertino campus in late 2010, and a recent indication that the company was working with Sprint came from an Apple job listing based in Kansas City – the hometown of Sprint’s headquarters.
In addition to these claims is a rather peculiar report from Talk Android, which claims that a Sprint iPhone is on its way and that it will be dual-band with support for T-Mobile. This is where it gets weird, however: The report also claims that Apple will alternate iPhone releases between carriers so that with every generation there is support for different networks. For example, the iPhone 5 may support AT&T and Verizon, the iPhone 6 may support Sprint and T-Mobile… and so forth.
That last bit is pretty hard to believe, and not just because the information was obtained from “people in the Sprint store,” who doubtlessly know nothing about the matter. In every other country in the world, Apple releases the new iPhone on all the carriers. Why would Apple change their focus for America only… and worse, guarantee it so that customers locked into two year contracts could only get a new iPhone every three years? Does that make a lick of sense?