Releasing an iPhone 4S on 3G/CDMA would give Sprint the iPhone quickly while allowing more time for Sprint to get ready to support an LTE-ready iPhone, analysts noted. Some analysts believe the iPhone 5 could be LTE-ready, although others say an LTE model won't come until the iPhone 6 or some future variant, leaving the iPhone 5 to have the iOS 5 enhancements that Apple announced Monday.
The rumors and reports get even more intriguing. This week, Talk Android said it learned from Sprint store employees that before both Sprint and T-Mobile get the iPhone 4S this fall, Verizon and AT&T will get the iPhone 5. In 2012, Sprint and T-Mobile would then get the next model first, followed by AT&T and Verizon.
That leapfrog approach doesn't take into account what would happen if the planned merger of AT&T and T-Mobile is approved, although Apple might be placing Sprint on a different cycle than AT&T/T-Mobile and Verizon.
Talk Android also reported that the Sprint iPhone's data charge would be higher than what users now pay, although the details are unclear. All Sprint smartphones today tack on a $10 monthly data charge, atop Sprint's $69.99-a-month unlimited voice, text and data plan, for a total of $79.99 per month. Reportedly, that total would jump to $89.99 per month with the iPhone 4S.
With so much speculation about an iPhone 4S, it seems that the smoke is indicating a real fire, Gold said. "I don't see why Apple wouldn't provide an iPhone to Sprint," he added. "They have provided iPhones for carriers all over the globe."
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