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T-Mobile US rumored to get Apple's iPhone 3GS, but not iPhone 4

post #1 of 59
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A new rumor shared by the editor-in-chief of Wired suggests that T-Mobile, the smallest of the four major cell phone carriers in the U.S., will offer the iPhone 3GS later this year, but not the iPhone 4.

"A T-Mobile manager casually mentioned to me that they're going to get the iPhone 3GS (but not 4, oddly) later this year," Chris Anderson, editor of Wired, posted on his Twitter account this week. "Common knowledge?"

As noted by Silicon Alley Insider, the posting is curious because Anderson opted to turn to Twitter rather than have one of his reporters file a story for the magazine. The approach would suggest that the editor's confidence in the rumor is questionable.

However, rumors of a partnership between Apple and T-Mobile are nothing new. In July, it was alleged that the two companies were in "advanced talks" to bring the iPhone to T-Mobile this fall.

Anderson's rumor implies that those talks are only for last year's iPhone model, and not the newly released iPhone 4. Rival carrier AT&T still sells an 8GB iPhone 3GS at an entry-level $99 price with a two-year contract.

T-Mobile U.S. is owned by Germany's Deutsche Telekom, which is expected to lose exclusivity of the iPhone in its native country by October. Currently, AT&T is the sole carrier of the iPhone in the U.S., but rumors of a jump to other carriers have persisted for years.

One major hurdle preventing a multi-carrier iPhone in the U.S. is the technical limitation of a SIM card-based iPhone, the only model Apple currently produces. The existing iPhone hardware is not compatible with carriers who rely on CDMA wireless technology, like Verizon and Sprint.

T-Mobile U.S., however, uses the same UMTS/HSPA technology as AT&T, though it relies on different frequencies. T-Mobile's 3G service supports the 1700MHz and 2100MHz bands, while AT&T supports 850MHz and 1900MHz. The current iPhone hardware does not support the 1700MHz frequency, meaning a modification of the hardware would be necessary.

That technical limitation, however, is minor compared to the major overhaul that would be required to produce a CDMA-compatible iPhone. Because of this, some Wall Street analysts believe a deal with T-Mobile is a more likely option for Apple as it looks to expand carriers in the U.S.
post #2 of 59
But why the 3GS? If true, it might have something to do with the last vestiges of the contract with AT&T.
post #3 of 59
Would seem rather an odd way to go - I assume only the 8GB phone?
post #4 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The current iPhone hardware does not support the 1700MHz frequency, meaning a modification of the hardware would be necessary.

That technical limitation, however, is minor compared to the major overhaul that would be required to produce a CDMA-compatible iPhone. Because of this, some Wall Street analysts believe a deal with T-Mobile is a more likely option for Apple as it looks to expand carriers in the U.S.

Does anybody know what Sprint uses?

If they use 1700MHz, then you could use Virgin Mobile's $25/ month plan and get unlimited text, web, etc. Virgin Mobile uses the Sprint network.

Anybody know?
post #5 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newtron View Post

Does anybody know what Sprint uses?

If they use 1700MHz, then you could use Virgin Mobile's $25/ month plan and get unlimited text, web, etc. Virgin Mobile uses the Sprint network.

Anybody know?

Sprint (and Virgin) use CDMA2000 1x-evdo on the PCS (1900 MHz) band. They do not use GSM/UTMS.
post #6 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The existing iPhone hardware is not compatible with carriers who rely on CDMA wireless technology, like Verizon and Sprint. ][/url][/c]

The existing iPhone hardware is not compatible with carriers who rely on CDMA wireless technology, like Verizon and Sprint.
post #7 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

But why the 3GS? If true, it might have something to do with the last vestiges of the contract with AT&T.

Likely you are correct.

I think that the 3GS is a lot like the old '486 computers - the first one that was powerful enough to be interesting to lots of people. It's possible that Apple did some kind of contract renewal at the time of the 3GS release, and realizing the potential popularity and staying power of the 3GS, limited future exclusivity to x period of time after release. Maybe they did something similar for the iP4?

18 months? June, 2009 3GS release? Maybe we'll see the end of exclusivity for the 3GS starting in January 2011?
post #8 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by bcahill009 View Post

The existing iPhone hardware is not compatible with carriers who rely on CDMA wireless technology, like Verizon and Sprint.

Oops. Thanks.
post #9 of 59
I'd still hop on that with T-Mobile. They still need to optimize the iOS further than they have with 4.1 though. It still looks slow in some cases as seen on many blogs.
post #10 of 59
However, I read somewhere that T-Mobile has a smaller 3G footprint and is slower since it does not support HSDPA (7.2MB)....unlike AT&T. The 3GS would not be able to utilize this higher speed service on T-Mobile.
post #11 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

But why the 3GS? If true, it might have something to do with the last vestiges of the contract with AT&T.

Absolutely. This could be a work-around for the at&t exclusivity agreement. It also means the end of agreement is probably near. Even though I'm an at&t employee I can't wait to see the end. Then we'll finally know if Android is all it's cracked up to be. We'll also know if some of the reported problems are network or device related. iPhone users apparently gobble a lot more bandwidth than other device users. When the iPhone is finally available on all the major U.S. carriers it will confirm or finally lay to rest all the FUD that's been spread around thickly for the last three years.

Or maybe not. FUD has a life of its own.
post #12 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

That technical limitation, however, is minor compared to the major overhaul that would be required to produce a CDMA-compatible iPhone.

I still don't understand why people say this is a "major overhaul"? The phone-specific components are a relatively small portion of the overall iPhone hardware/software. Those cheapo/free phones you can get from any carrier come in both GSM and CDMA varieties. So why is this stated to be such a huge challenge for Apple? Different antenna, different cellular radio, different drivers in the OS to interact with the radio. But everything else can be 100% transfered from the GSM iPhone.

I'm not saying it's trivial, but it's certainly not a "major overhaul".
post #13 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

Absolutely. This could be a work-around for the at&t exclusivity agreement. It also means the end of agreement is probably near. Even though I'm an at&t employee I can't wait to see the end. Then we'll finally know if Android is all it's cracked up to be. We'll also know if some of the reported problems are network or device related. iPhone users apparently gobble a lot more bandwidth than other device users. When the iPhone is finally available on all the major U.S. carriers it will confirm or finally lay to rest all the FUD that's been spread around thickly for the last three years.

Or maybe not. FUD has a life of its own.

There was a study about a month or so ago that said Android users used more data than iPhone users (I blame all the flash crap that gets loaded when they view web pages ). But I agree, once there is an iPhone on Verizon we'll see how the networks each hold up.
post #14 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

But why the 3GS? If true, it might have something to do with the last vestiges of the contract with AT&T.

Just guessing, but probably easier to interrupt the 3GS production which is winding down(sort of) versus the iphone 4 production which is still ramping up to meet demand.
Plus 3GS is a good test the waters scenario. But IMO they have a iphone 4 t-mobile ready to go as well as the CDMA versions. Just a matter of contracts etc. January will be interesting.
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post #15 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newtron View Post

Does anybody know what Sprint uses?

If they use 1700MHz, then you could use Virgin Mobile's $25/ month plan and get unlimited text, web, etc. Virgin Mobile uses the Sprint network.

Anybody know?

This is exactly what I would like to do some day... don't know if it will ever be possible.
post #16 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

But why the 3GS? If true, it might have something to do with the last vestiges of the contract with AT&T.

I teach law and this theory doesn't make any sense to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post

However, I read somewhere that T-Mobile has a smaller 3G footprint and is slower since it does not support HSDPA (7.2MB)....unlike AT&T. The 3GS would not be able to utilize this higher speed service on T-Mobile.

This makes some sense. T-Mobile might want to start with the 3GS because they don't want to suddenly overload their network. Apple might want to start with the 3GS if they have a large inventory of 3GS phones to liquidate. Either way, I would not expect T-Mobile to sell only the 3GS model for more than several months.
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post #17 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by boeyc15 View Post

Just guessing, but probably easier to interrupt the 3GS production which is winding down(sort of) versus the iphone 4 production which is still ramping up to meet demand.
Plus 3GS is a good test the waters scenario. But IMO they have a iphone 4 t-mobile ready to go as well as the CDMA versions. Just a matter of contracts etc. January will be interesting.

My thought is that the agreement might allow last years model to be sold on another carrier. This might be a newer provision. Just a guess. But AT&T would have to allow it. If the phone arrives before 2011, when the phone is predicted to be on Verizon, that could be why.
post #18 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

I teach law and this theory doesn't make any sense to me.

I don't know what your teaching law has to do with this. I had two businesses over a period of 36 years, and I think I know more about contracts than you do from what you're saying here. It could be very likely that Apple and AT&T have renegotiated their contract at least one time. In fact, it's supposed that the reason why AT&T gave a monthly contract for iPad use is for an elongation of that contract for some time. So it's quite possible that that renegotiation also resulted in Apple being allowed to sell last years model to another USA based carrier.

But I suppose you don't think that's LEGALLY possible.
post #19 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

I suppose you don't think that's LEGALLY possible.

Legally possible? Yes, it's legally possible. Is it plausible? I don't think so.
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post #20 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

I still don't understand why people say this is a "major overhaul"? The phone-specific components are a relatively small portion of the overall iPhone hardware/software. Those cheapo/free phones you can get from any carrier come in both GSM and CDMA varieties. So why is this stated to be such a huge challenge for Apple? Different antenna, different cellular radio, different drivers in the OS to interact with the radio. But everything else can be 100% transfered from the GSM iPhone.

I'm not saying it's trivial, but it's certainly not a "major overhaul".

Remember, the iPhone isn't a cheapo/free phone. There are features that require carrier support like Visual Voicemail and data+voice simultaneously. The phone itself may not need a ton of re-engineering, but the carrier's network might which has to be at least as difficult a task as redoing the phone's innards.

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post #21 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

Legally possible? Yes, it's legally possible. Is it plausible? I don't think so.

What's so hard to understand? AT&T kicks back a ton of money to Apple to retain exclusivity.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #22 of 59
Jailbroken, first-gen... for the most part, it works fine. Edge is slow, but wi-fi is what I use mostly, so the phone is sufficient. What I do miss is fully functional visual v-mail, ala AT-T. Don't get why T-Mobile doesn't support it since they have the technology in Germany w/ D-Telecom.

This is half a step in the right direction for Apple; anything they do to increase the user base is a good thing. But as stated above, the real 'Droid v. iPhone test will come when the phones can play in parity on the same providers.
post #23 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

I teach law and this theory doesn't make any sense to me.


This makes some sense. T-Mobile might want to start with the 3GS because they don't want to suddenly overload their network. Apple might want to start with the 3GS if they have a large inventory of 3GS phones to liquidate. Either way, I would not expect T-Mobile to sell only the 3GS model for more than several months.

How is your profession of teaching law relevant to his theory? Since you don't know anything about the contract between Apple and at&t, making that statement can only be some bizarre attempt to make it seem like you have some elevated intellect. In reality, it only serves to show how douche-tastic you are.
post #24 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

Legally possible? Yes, it's legally possible. Is it plausible? I don't think so.

I think it sounds entirely plausible. Why wouldn't the global iOS deal change when the iPad was given exclusively to ATT?

It is a distinct possibility, and in my estimation, very likely.
post #25 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

Legally possible? Yes, it's legally possible. Is it plausible? I don't think so.

Very plausible. Will it happen? Who knows? But what does that have to do with your teaching law?
post #26 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by moracity View Post

How is your profession of teaching law relevant to his theory? Since you don't know anything about the contract between Apple and at&t, making that statement can only be some bizarre attempt to make it seem like you have some elevated intellect. In reality, it only serves to show how douche-tastic you are.

Thanks for your support, but please be careful with the wording.
post #27 of 59
Android is doomed. IPhone goes multicarrier. I can see it now, millions of customers desperately lining up at T-mobile to buy last years iPhone.
post #28 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by grking View Post

Android is doomed. IPhone goes multicarrier. I can see it now, millions of customers desperately lining up at T-mobile to buy last years iPhone.

The more US carriers that get the iPhone the harder it will be for other vendors to gain ot bold ground against carrier-focused customers who simply can't or won't switch to AT&T, but i can't see how Android would be doomed.

In fact, I see such a move as a slowing of Android OS adoption, but would expect Android to still be the dominate smartphone OS simple by virtue of the number of vendors, who generally have a lot more models with vatmryibg pricepoints than Apple at any given time.
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post #29 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by grking View Post

Android is doomed. IPhone goes multicarrier. I can see it now, millions of customers desperately lining up at T-mobile to buy last years iPhone.

and once AT&T gets a tier A Android phone a lot of iPhone users will switch as well
post #30 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross

But why the 3GS? If true, it might have something to do with the last vestiges of the contract with AT&T.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

I teach law and this theory doesn't make any sense to me.

I taught CoBOL... in Spanish... in Peru!

It makes perfect sense to me! ¡No hay dudas!

.
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post #31 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

and once AT&T gets a tier A Android phone a lot of iPhone users will switch as well

Unlikely, since people aren't going to want to give up the compatibility with the whole iTunes ecosystem, their app investment, etc. Google discourages paid apps to increase add opportunities, but the (other) negative side-effect for them is that Android users won't feel like they have to give up much, if any, investment to switch, whereas iPhone users will.

EDIT: Although, why anyone would lend any credence to a rumor from ("The internet is dead!") Wired...
post #32 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

Unlikely, since people aren't going to want to give up the compatibility with the whole iTunes ecosystem, their app investment, etc. Google discourages paid apps to increase add opportunities, but the (other) negative side-effect for them is that Android users won't feel like they have to give up much, if any, investment to switch, whereas iPhone users will.

EDIT: Although, why anyone would lend any credence to a rumor from ("The internet is dead!") Wired...

That's an interesting point! I could sell my iPhone and buy an Android phone, but I have no way to honestly sell my apps-- they remain on my computer, tied to my iTunes ID. I guess I cold leave the copy on the sold iPhone, and it would remain valid until the app was updated.

If I had another iPhone or an iPod Touch, I could still run the apps on it (5 devices)... But, that would put the Android phone a disadvantage-- it couldn't run the apps I bought, yet the iPod could.

We have 455 apps in our family for 2 iPads, 5 iPhones and 0 iPod touches (3 of the iPhones are SIM-less and act as iPod Touches).

I would guess that 60% are paid apps at an average cost of $3-- That's $820 invested in apps.

.
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post #33 of 59
Would make a lot of people I know happy if T-Mo were to pick up the 3GS and offer it pre-paid as well as contract.

That change alone would move plenty of 3GSes.
post #34 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

The more US carriers that get the iPhone the harder it will be for other vendors to gain ot bold ground against carrier-focused customers who simply can't or won't switch to AT&T, but i can't see how Android would be doomed.

In fact, I see such a move as a slowing of Android OS adoption, but would expect Android to still be the dominate smartphone OS simple by virtue of the number of vendors, who generally have a lot more models with vatmryibg pricepoints than Apple at any given time.

Sorry, I was not clear, but I was being flip. A lot of posters here seem to believe that once the iPhone goes multi-carrier, Android is relegated to the dustbin of history, or, at best, slides to the low end. I just can't see a lot of people moving to the smallest carrier, to buy last years technology.

I think the AT&T issue is way overblown, and is analogous to American political opinions in the sense of "all politicians are corrupt" and then they vote to re-elect their current representative.

I don't think most people switch carriers if they have a history with that carrier and if the carrier is reasonable (broadly defined). Sprint had horrible customer service (not reasonable), which is the reason I eventually switched.
post #35 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by polymnia View Post

Remember, the iPhone isn't a cheapo/free phone. There are features that require carrier support like Visual Voicemail and data+voice simultaneously. The phone itself may not need a ton of re-engineering, but the carrier's network might which has to be at least as difficult a task as redoing the phone's innards.

The point being that making a phone's OS work with different cellular radios and protocols (GSM vs CDMA) has been done to death. It's not like Apple would be breaking new ground there. As for Visual Voicemail...unlocked phones seem to have no problem working on other networks that don't support that. And I doubt every overseas operator that sells the iPhone supports it, either. It's a nice to have feature, not a core component of the iPhone "experience". Data+voice, yes, that would need to be part of the OS component interacting with the cellular components, but doesn't ATTs 2G network have the same limitation (I could be wrong) so the iPhone OS can apprently already deal with that scenario.

I've seen time and time again people say Apple would need to "completely redesign" the iPhone or it would be a "major overhaul". I just don't see it. The only significant barriers are: 1) Apple's contract with ATT, and 2) Apple and Verizon coming to a business agreement. That second item is far more difficult than any tech-related issue.
post #36 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

Unlikely, since people aren't going to want to give up the compatibility with the whole iTunes ecosystem, their app investment, etc. Google discourages paid apps to increase add opportunities, but the (other) negative side-effect for them is that Android users won't feel like they have to give up much, if any, investment to switch, whereas iPhone users will.

EDIT: Although, why anyone would lend any credence to a rumor from ("The internet is dead!") Wired...

While broadly true, this will vary on a case by case basis. If you have an iPhone, and not a lot of apps, then there is no real loss, if you have an Android and lots of apps, then you have a potential loss.

Secondly, most of the surveys suggest that for most people, most apps are not used after a couple of weeks. So, in the end, it would come down to availability and cost to replace the core apps that you use.

The exception to this is that I think MS (if they manage to do it right) has a chance to convert a hunk of Windows based iPhone users to WP7. The question is whether they can do it correctly.
post #37 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by grking View Post

While broadly true, this will vary on a case by case basis. If you have an iPhone, and not a lot of apps, then there is no real loss ...

Except losing the whole iTunes/iPod integration, which is also a gain going the other direction.
post #38 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

Except losing the whole iTunes/iPod integration, which is also a gain going the other direction.

That is true for Android users.

But like I said, if MS pulls it off, they have an equally compelling ecosystem for Windows users

Zune marketplace for movies, music, TV shows - and it has had social networking since the beginning. A brief examination of the Zune library indicates it is pretty equivalent to iTunes in terms of content.

Xbox Live integration and games.

Office integration

Exchange/Enterprise integration

App store - we shall see what happens, but MS claims 300,000 downloads of the SDK. Ten percent of that would bet 30,000 apps at opening for example.

So, if you are a Windows user, you do not really give up much, except possibly for apps.

I have maybe 50 apps for my iPhone. I use maybe 6-8 on a regular basis, the others are not even loaded, so apps could be a wash.
post #39 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by grking View Post

That is true for Android users.

But like I said, if MS pulls it off, they have an equally compelling ecosystem for Windows users ...

Right, because that Zune ecosystem has been wildly popular to date.

No one has an equivalent ecosystem to iTunes.
post #40 of 59
I've been using T-Mobile with my 2G iPhone for about 6 months and I love it. The service in my area is so much better with T-Mobile.

I'd rather use a different phone than go back to AT&T.
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