While it’s still anyone’s guess as to what kind of device we’re looking at with the proposed “iPhone 5” rumored to be making an appearance sometime next month, what is becoming clear is that the next iPhone is coming to Sprint—and most likely even T-Mobile. The best news to come from Sprint is the fact that they will be retaining their unlimited data plans with iPhone users, which will pit them against Verizon and AT&T in yet another battle for customers. If this is true, Sprint will be the only carrier left with an unrestricted, unlimited data plan for all of its customers.
The questions about the phone start with just one: Will the next iPhone be a completely brand new device called iPhone 5 or will it a simple spec upgrade, possibly being called iPhone 4S?
There are two big reasons why I believe it’ll be just a spec upgrade. The first reason is because Apple hasn’t followed through with their one-phone-per-year release model and the second reason is because they are also planning to release an upgraded iPad soon that won’t be an iPad 3. With that said, it would make sense for Apple to take the mid-upgrade step now like they did with the 3GS while holding off on a major upgrade and/or redesign until next summer. Another thought that came to mind is that maybe Apple was waiting until all the carriers had access to their phone before going forward with a brand new device. With Sprint and T-Mobile being the last ones left, this would make perfect sense not to release it until everyone has had a nice lead-in for new customers.
Sprint has admitted that even though unlimited data will be allowed initially, it may not be forever. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse has acknowledged that Sprint may not be able to keep up with data demands from the added iPhone customers in the future and has implied that, should this become a reality, Sprint will wind up limiting their plans just as Verizon and AT&T have done. Just how they plan to do this is unclear. For example, AT&T and Verizon have taken this approach slightly different:
- AT&T – They were the first to remove the unlimited data plans from their service offerings, but allowed existing plan holders to be grandfathered in. However, a few months ago, AT&T decided that grandfathered plans would be subjected to speed caps for users going over the “invisible” 2GB cap—2GB being the max for their new plans. So whereas a new customer would be charged for going over 2GB, but retain 3G speeds, an older customer wouldn’t be charged for going over, but would have to suffer losing 3G speeds.
- Verizon – Once Verizon got the iPhone, it was no surprise that people jumped ship from AT&T. This was in part due to service quality concerns, but also Verizon still allowing unlimited data plans. This has now changed although they followed in AT&T’s footsteps by allowing existing customers to be grandfathered in. It remains to be seen whether they will implement speed caps like AT&T has.
- T-Mobile – Although T-Mobile doesn’t currently have the iPhone, they are another carrier (besides Sprint) still offering unlimited data plans, but they have always had speed limits on these plans. This is likely to remain the same even if they get the next iPhone.
My two cents
I sold my iPhone 4 because I figured that if the new phone came out, I’d lose more value on it. In the meantime, I’ve been using an Android phone for a short period and now I’m on a Samsung focus with Windows Phone 7. I like Windows Phone 7 and from the looks of things, Samsung and Nokia are coming out with a few cool devices this October to compete with this new iPhone.
For me, I doubt I’ll jump back into another iPhone right away unless it really blows my mind. If it ends up being an iPhone 4S, I probably won’t even touch it. I’ll either stick with my Focus after upgrading to Windows Phone Mango (7.5) and wait until a newer iPhone shows up or I’ll explore other options. I’m still undecided, but let’s just say that October seems to be looking like a very interesting month in the way of technology.