updated 10:30 am EDT, Tue October 4, 2011
Counters last-minute rumors about Sprint model
The next-generation iPhone -- being announced later today -- will not support WiMAX, sources for the Wall Street Journal say. Instead the phone will be 3G-only, although AT&T is noted to claim that its 3G network has 4G-like speeds. WiMAX is an authentic 4G technology currently supported by Sprint, which is slated to become the the next US iPhone carrier.
The Journal's report counters a Boy Genius Report claim that Sprint will not only get the iPhone, but become the exclusive home of a WiMAX-equipped iPhone 5 while other carriers are limited to an iPhone 4S. Such a shift is unlikely, since Sprint is only the third-biggest US cellular carrier, although that would allow Apple to extract more favorable terms and possibly push the industry towards unlimited data plans. More troublesome is that Sprint itself is moving away from WiMAX in favor of LTE, which has fewer limitations and is already becoming the de facto 4G technology. AT&T and Verizon have established LTE footholds.
Still unanswered is whether Apple is releasing one new iPhone design or two. Most frequently anticipated is an iPhone 5, a slimmer model with tapered edges and numerous internal upgrades. Apple may however be releasing that and/or an iPhone 4S; if it's a secondary model, the 4S could be a relatively modest upgrade representing the first-ever mid-tier iPhone.