updated 07:00 pm EDT, Thu August 29, 2013
Suspends employee vacations for second half of September
Following on the heels of reports of T-Mobile "blacking out" employee days off on the weekend of September 20-22 -- what is likely to be the first retail launch weekend of the forthcoming new iPhone -- more evidence has emerged that suggests AT&T is also blacking out employee vacation days, for the entire second half of the month. The iPhone continues to be AT&T's top selling smartphone after six years.
Traditionally, a new iPhone goes on pre-order for preferred customers a few days before its retail debut, which is usually held on a weekend. Presuming that the new iPhone model or models are announced on September 10 as has been widely expected, this would give carriers up to 10 days for pre-orders ahead of the retail debut, which is expected to draw lines in front of retail stores.
The carrier blacked out two weeks last time, ahead of the iPhone 5 launch. The next iPhone, presumably called the "iPhone 5S," is expected to offer a faster processors, a possible fingerprint sensor embedded in the home button, an upgraded camera, flash and picture-processing system and a new color -- a "gold" or "champagne" option alongside the popular white and black models.
Also expected at the rumored September 10 event will be the launch and availability of iOS 7. Unknown at this point is whether Apple will bring out the long-rumored and much-leaked "iPhone 5C," a plastic variant on the iPhone 5 that may replace it and sell at a lower overall cost. It is possible that Apple will restrict sales of the "5C" to developing markets for which it is aimed.