Sprint iPhone 5 to arrive in October: report

A Sprint iPhone 5 will launch alongside the Verizon and AT&T models this October, according to a new report. Wall Street seems excited about the idea of a Sprint iPhone. Will Apple fans rally, too?

A Sprint iPhone 5 is in the works, some analysts are predicting. But this is just a photo of a regular old iPhone – not the Sprint edition.

When Apple unveils its next smart phone in October, it will introduce a Sprint iPhone 5 as well. So says The Wall Street Journal in an anonymously sourced article about Apple's fall schedule.

The Journal makes three predictions in this story: It calls the upcoming device an iPhone 5, which has become increasingly common as the iPhone 4S moniker may be the name of Apple's upcoming budget option. Second, the piece corroborates reports that Apple will introduce the next generation iPhone in October, much later than its usual summer release. And third, the Journal provides the most authoritative account yet that a Sprint iPhone is imminent, well, as authoritative as you can be with Apple rumors.

Word of a Sprint iPhone stoked not just the blogosphere, but Wall Street as well. Sprint's stock leapt 9 percent in 24 hours, but has eased a little in afternoon trading.

What has investors so excited?

"In the second quarter, Sprint blamed a decline in its contract subscribers on more pronounced 'competitive headwinds,' most prominently, 'the first full quarter both major competitors offered the iPhone,' " reports the Journal.

Sprint has had a great mix of powerful phones, especially 4G devices. But few have been alluring enough to tempt people away from their current phone company. Once all three major carriers offer the iPhone – assuming that comes to pass – then Sprint can compete in an arena that it's much more comfortable with: comparing plans to plans.

Sprint stands as the last big carrier to offer an unlimited data package. AT&T and Verizon both cut theirs. They grandfathered in current iPhone owners, but new customers must choose between several data caps. (Remember when the original iPhone required an unlimited data package? What a simpler time.)

Let's be honest: Few people need more than the 10 gigabytes offered by Verizon. (AT&T tops out at 4 GB.) But for power users, unlimited data means freedom. If you cherish your right to stream video, purchase apps, and download songs with abandon, perhaps Sprint will be your best option.

Plan prices will also come into play. A competitive push from Sprint could force AT&T and Verizon to lower their prices and rejigger some foibles in the system. For example, according to Apple.com, AT&T's 2 GB plan offers an extra gigabyte for $10. But if you get the cheaper 200-megabyte package, an extra 200 MB costs $15. How does that math work out?

Curiously, the iPhone deal "could also hurt Sprint," adds the Journal. By embracing the iPhone, Sprint could wind up "helping AT&T improve its chances of winning approval from regulators for its $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA."

For more tech news, follow Chris on Twitter @venturenaut and sign up for the Monitor's weekly BizTech newsletter, which ships every Wednesday.

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