It took more than four years for Verizon Wireless to break AT&T’s exclusive stranglehold on Apple’s iPhone. It might take just a few more months for customers of the remaining big U.S. carriers to get their hands on the device.
While so-called experts debate when the iPhone 5 will launch – we’ve heard everything from this September to Summer 2012 – the updated hardware could be available for Sprint and T-Mobile customers before the holiday season. That’s according to analyst Peter Misek of Jeffries & Co., who says the new iPhone will look much the same as the iPhone 4, but will be more powerful under the hood.
In a new research note, Misek said “the device should be called iPhone 4S and include minor cosmetic changes, better cameras, A5 dual-core processor, and HSPA+ support." He cites “industry checks" as the basis for his findings.
Even bigger news globally than a team-up with Sprint and T-Mobile would be the introduction of telecom giant China Mobile as an Apple partner, which Misek also predicts will happen soon.
The downer, Misek predicts, is that the iPhone 5 won’t support LTE, the 4G format operated by Verizon Wireless and the network that AT&T says it will start rolling out in select markets this summer. Most speed tests have put newly released 4G Android phones from Verizon – namely the HTC ThunderBolt – ahead of the iPhone and other competitors.
Apple might not feel an urgent need to accommodate LTE networks. Despite what seems like a new Android phone being released every day, the iPhone has maintained its market share in recent quarters. Android-based devices have overtaken the iPhone for market-share lead, but that's many devices vs. just one.