iPhone 5 could slay unexpected victim on release

From the amount of talk about the Apple iPhone 5 you might imagine that it is due for release next week rather than at least several months away. We’ve been bringing you rumors and specs leaks about the iPhone 5 to keep you informed plus news of some of its competition but today we want to focus on what could become an unexpected victim of the iPhone 5, the carrier Sprint.

More specifically we’re talking about the much-rumored LTE iPhone 5 and what this could mean for Sprint. It seems almost certain from recent news that 4G LTE connectivity is coming to the iPhone 5 and the possible repercussions of that for Sprint could be pretty dire. When Sprint joined AT&T and Verizon last year to become the third major US carrier to offer the iPhone this was seen as a huge coup for the company. However a deal that Sprint made to secure the iPhone then, could be its downfall now according to one analyst.

Verizon was first off the mark with 4G LTE networking and now covers large parts of the U.S. with its LTE network while AT&T is playing catch-up but already offers a decent amount of coverage. However Sprint’s endeavors to form an LTE network are much talked about but not far along with development and the carrier doesn’t yet offer a single 4G smartphone (although the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and LG Viper are coming). Therefore if an iPhone 5 with LTE does indeed release then many customers who may have purchased the next iPhone on Sprint may jump ship to AT&T or Verizon instead. Where this could cause Sprint major problems is the contract between itself and Apple, whereby Sprint has to purchase 25 million iPhones from Apple over the next four years, according to IBTimes.

Unless Sprint makes serious progress with its 4G LTE network extremely quickly it could mean that many Sprint iPhones remain unsold, saddling the carrier with some massive debts. Analyst Craig Moffett of Bernstein Research stated that the lack of LTE support for Sprint so far could be its downfall when a 4G LTE-equipped iPhone 5 is released, saying in a report, “To be clear, we are not predicting a Sprint bankruptcy. We are merely acknowledging that it is a very legitimate risk. And notwithstanding a recent rally in Sprint shares, we believe that risk is rising.” After Moffett spoke about the potentially damaging take-or-pay deal that Sprint has with Apple, Sprint shares fell by 4.5% in one day.

Upgrading Sprint’s network to LTE is bound to take time and apparently Sprint has stated that its 4G LTE network will arrive around mid-2012, but of course that’s likely to be in only a few select areas at first and certainly not widespread coverage. However without widespread coverage of a Sprint 4G LTE network by the time an LTE iPhone 5 arrives, we wonder if Sprint will be doomed to lose its share of potential sales for the next iPhone and that could lead to very dodgy ground indeed for the carrier.

A release date is not yet confirmed for the iPhone 5 although two main times are in the picture. Many industry experts feel it will arrive in the fall although some feel it’s more likely to be launched in the summer at Apple’s WWDC in June. We imagine therefore that Sprint could well be holding its breath at the moment, hoping for an iPhone 5 release later rather than sooner.

We should point out though that not all analysts agree that an LTE iPhone 5 will bring bad tidings to Sprint. According to Barron’s, analyst Shing Yin from Guggenheim Securities feels that the network isn’t necessarily the most important factor for people buying a new smartphone and feels that users “focus on the device first and foremost.” Yin said, “In our view, the relative lack of capacity in Sprint’s LTE network is unlikely to be noticeable by users for some time, since the network will initially be underutilized.” Yin also pointed to the fact that last year Sprint added more WiMAX users than Verizon added LTE users, therefore backing up the feeling that network quality may not be uppermost in consumer’s decisions when buying a new phone.

It seems that the experts are split on what the impact of an LTE-enabled iPhone 5 will mean for Sprint although some of the warnings for Sprint have seemed pretty ominous. We’d like to hear your thoughts on this. If you are a current Sprint customer and the iPhone 5 was LTE-equipped would you be likely to jump ship to Verizon or AT&T? Maybe you would still purchase it on Sprint and wait for its LTE network to play catch-up? What is most important to you, the best possible network or the device itself? We’re intrigued to find out so do let us have your comments on this.


10 thoughts on “iPhone 5 could slay unexpected victim on release”

  1. Crazy3445 says:

    Well a 4G LTE iPhone won’t help Sprint if it doesn’t have 4G LTE. I’m sure people won’t care about unlimited data on a slow 3G network when they can have true 4G on another Carrier (I.e. Verizon and AT&T).

    1. Bluegattaca says:

      u are a dumbass kid have fun streaming 2 videis on your super fast 4g network before you teach your data cap while i enjoy unlimited data on 3g

  2. Anonymous says:

    People don’t understand, Sure sprint will probably only have there 4g lte network in a few areas around the country when the iphone 5 launches, but im fine, and who ever said the 3g was slow, But mainly, Verizon and ATT DO NOT HAVE UNLIMITED DATA PLANS, just imagine how fast you can go over your limit with LIMITED 4g DATA. Just wait for sprint to release UNLIMITED 4g data.

  3. Anonymous says:

    And @58d678745139bb35cf17d76a5e22fbd4:disqus , Sprint is currenly making a 4g LTE network that will be up by Q2 2012. And have you seen the ipad 3 with 4g, many people are complaining because the 4g is very fast and there going past their limit VERY VERY FAST.

  4. Firemedic121 says:

    I have Sprint and have been very happy with it. My 3G service is twice as fast as the 3G service I had with Verizon so I’m so pleased that I usually forget to turn on my 4G WiMAX service. Yes, I’m looking forward to the iPhone 5 and will be getting 3-4 of them with or with out LTE service in my area at first.I can wait.

  5. Cjoneill89 says:

    I have sprint and love it. It’s fast enough for me now as it is. I’m anxious as everyone else for the new iPhone but I would not leave sprint to get it, or make it a little faster for that matter.

  6. danahill98 says:

    AT&T definitely has an unlimited data plan. Im with AT&T., so I can clarify and confirm it. I would love to have the new iPhone 5® but would it really be worth the money is my question.

    1. Firemedic121 says:

      AT&T only offers unlimited data plans to people who were grandfathered in. AT&T has since quite offering unlimited plans. Well I guess I should say that they charge you for blocks of gigabytes. I guess as long as you use your allotment of gigabytes, they’ll be glad to sell you more.

  7. Bluegattaca says:

    nobody gives two shits about 4g if all u do is watch a couple movies and uvr capped out, id rather have unlimited 3g anyday over 4g

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