Apple will release a new unlocked model of the iPhone 5 in its own stores and through T-Mobile in a couple of weeks, adding advanced wireless services for improved LTE performance.
T-Mobile Ups Its Game
At its Un-carrier event in New York today, T-Mobile announced LTE support in seven U.S. cities and the addition of the iPhone 5 to its roster on a $99 deal starting on 12 April with the additional feature of HD Voice for better quality calls. It will ship a new updated iPhone that Apple is introducing, phasing out the original 5 model.
The mobile telco will follow that up by offering the Samsung Galaxy S4 starting at the beginning of May to offer the two hottest handsets on the market in an attempt to make up ground on its rivals. Samsung's new phone is packed with many new gimmicky features, but lacks the raw power of the Exynos octa-core processor, while still being a monster superphone in its quad-core form.
LTE support from T-Mobile will soon be available in Baltimore, Houston, Kansas City, Missouri, Las Vegas,Phoenix, San Jose and Washington. T-Mobile brought the spectrum from Verizon Wireless last year as it looks to make up some ground on market leading rivals AT&T and, yes, Verizon. These moves should put it on the map for many consumers looking for a new option.
Apple's Taster Before The Main Event
The new phone will be unlocked by default (depending on the telco), allowing it work with any other cellular provider. It supports advanced wireless services (AWS), an extra part of the white space spectrum, theoretically improving LTE performance. The new iPhone will be the first device from Apple to support the extra spectrum, many recent BlackBerry, Samsung and other smartphones are AWS compatible.
Apple will also sell the tweaked iPhone unlocked through its Apple Store (likely at the existing $649 price for the current 16GB model). The company has recently added next-day delivery as a sweetener for the online store. You can pretty much guarantee it'll come with iOS 6.1.3 to avoid the temptations of jailbreaking but this extra performance tweak is unlikely to see existing users rushing to upgrade.
Instead, the wait goes on for news of the likely iPhone 5S. Analysts and pundits are leaning toward more new software features over a major redesign, similar to Samsung's S4 device, with a modest hardware bump. If there's going to be a less-expensive iPhone, Apple is keeping its usual tight lid on developments.