updated 04:20 pm EDT, Fri September 9, 2011
Sprint braces for iPhone 5 in schedule
An internal memo to Sprint staff has provided a virtual giveaway of the carrier's plans to carry the iPhone 5. The note issues a blackout on employee vacations between September 30 and October 15 for a "major phone launch." While a small chance exists that the SprintFeed leak is a reference to something else, the corroboration of rumors and silences on both the name and release date make the iPhone 5 the near-certain subject of the memo.
Sprint isn't known to have ever demanded such an extended window for other smartphones, even for flagships such as the Evo 4G and Evo 3D. The Epic 4G Touch is launching before October and can be ruled out.
Official approaches to the iPhone launch have been one of silence, but these too have produced strong clues as to an iPhone release. Dealers have been told only to refuse comment and not to deny that an iPhone is enroute.
The slip both puts Sprint in with AT&T and Verizon for the iPhone launch and narrows down the date for all of the US and possibly other countries. The most specific tips have narrowed it down to October 7, although room exists for it to move back a week.
Verizon has always said that its iPhone deal was non-exclusive for CDMA use. Signs have existed, though, that there were technical or other factors that would prevent Sprint from getting the iPhone at the same time. Apple has said little but has a carrier engineer in the Kansas City area near Sprint and is known to be eager to close off 'safe' areas for Android in the US where Google still doesn't have to compete against an iPhone on the same network.