The first rumblings that the iPhone 5 was coming to Sprint emerged in early May. At the time, Apple had put out a curious job listing looking for a carrier engineer in Kansas City, Missouri which just so happens to be a stone’s throw from Sprint Headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas.
The telling job listing read:
Member of the Carrier Engineering team that supports taking products through technical approval at the carriers. A Carrier Engineer team is responsible for day-to-day technical interactions with the one or more carriers to track down issues reported by the carrier, assist the carrier with testing they might be conducting and working with program management, software development and test teams to get products approved by the carriers.
Two months later, another report surfaced relaying that the iPhone 5 was already in the advanced testing stages on Sprint’s network and that Apple, much how it did with Verizon, had installed Sprint cell towers on its campus to put the device through rigorous field testing and optimization.
Now, with the iPhone reportedly scheduled to launch in just a few weeks, we stumble upon a report from the typically accurate Wall Street Journal which writes that Sprint will begin selling Apple’s next-gen iPhone in early October.
Landing the iPhone is a big win for Sprint, whose results have suffered without being able to sell the iconic device. This February, Verizon Wireless began selling the iPhone 4, while AT&T has relied on versions of the Apple device to drive sales since 2007.
In the second quarter, Sprint blamed a decline in its contract subscribers on more pronounced “competitive head winds,” most prominently, “the first full quarter both major competitors offered the iPhone.”
Interestingly enough, the report notes that Sprint will not only be offering its customers the iPhone 5 but will carry the iPhone 4 as well. It remains unclear, though, if this refers to the current iPhone 4 or if the report is referring to the low-cost 8GB iPhone 4 that Apple is reportedly planning to release this fall concurrently with the iPhone 5.
Either way, getting the iPhone onto all nationwide carriers in the US has been a long time coming. While an inordinate number of folks obviously switched over to AT&T to get their hands on Apple’s revolutionary smartphone, a significant number of folks are tied to carriers like Sprint on account of family plans and/or coverage issues. At this point, with Android reportedly activating over 500,000 new devices daily, Apple has to play the marketshare game which is why we’ve also heard rumblings that Apple will be launching a modified iPhone 5 on China Mobile’s proprietary network.