Sprint to buy 30M iPhones, may get exclusive iPhone 5

iPhone 5 mock rendering from Mac Rumors
iPhone 5 mock rendering

The Wall Street Journal breaks the most interesting new rumor about iPhone that we’ve heard in this week of heavy rumors about iPhone.

It reports today that Sprint has agreed to purchase 30.5 million iPhones over the next four years, whether customers purchase them or not. With the phone selling for about $655 without subsidy, that could mean about a $20 billion cash outlay for Dan Hesse’s Now Network.

The Journal quoted sources saying that Hesse told Sprint’s board of directors that the heavy commitment was necessary to get the phone on its network. That could mean a Sprint subsidy of about $500 per phone, and it could take Sprint three years to recoup the investment.

Another source called the cash outlay and its effect on Sprint’s operating income “staggering.” It appears to be the company’s big move in slowing customer losses and competing with Verizon and AT&T. And remember, Sprint still has unlimited data, which its competitors do not.

Shortly after that news broke, Boy Genius Report noted that this announcement lent weight to a rumor it had previously written about: that Sprint may introduce an iPhone 5 with Wi-Max 4G coverage.

Boy Genius reported:

I have been told that Sprint will be getting the iPhone 5 — yes the real iPhone 5, not the iPhone 4S — as an exclusive. And it will be a WiMAX device. AT&T and Verizon would launch the iPhone 4S and get the iPhone 5 sometime in the first quarter of next year as an LTE device. Globally, the iPhone 5 might be available as a 4G HSPA+ device.

The claim reportedly comes from an “incredibly solid” industry contact and is one which has seemed simply unbelievable. But with Sprint clearly betting the future of the company on the iPhone, it is at least possible that it may have gone to extreme lengths to make a staggering entrance to the iPhone market.

Using its new info as a base, Boy Genius Report now believes we’ll see an iPhone 4S for AT&T and Verison that will have a low voltage Apple A5 chip (similar to the one that powers iPad 2; new front and back camera sensors; support to use the phone to make purchases like a credit card (a technology called “NFC”); and a metal or premium plastic on the back of the case.

Quoting a source, BGR says Sprint’s iPhone 5 with have a faster processor, a 4-inch screen, 1 GB of Ram, 32 gigs of storage, thinner design.

This should make interest in tomorrow’s Apple news conference even bigger. Boy Genius Report is certainly risking its reputation by putting out such a detailed story about the iPhone 5 and Sprint. For the past few days, most tech blogs have been reporting that we’d only see an iPhone 4S, based on information leaking out of multiple sites and even Apple itself.

It’s hard to imagine Apple making this move, making an improved iPhone but only offering it to Sprint, but anything is possible and we’ll know for sure tomorrow.

Can’t wait.




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