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Sprint scores iPhone 5 exclusive thanks to $20 billion deal with Apple?

iPhone 5 Sprint

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Sprint has entered into an agreement with Apple to purchase over $20 billion worth of iPhones over the next four years — that’s around 30 million iPhones. It’s said that Sprint won’t even break even on the transaction until 2014, which is surely a huge risk on Sprint’s part, but why? I have been going back and forth for weeks with one of my incredibly solid industry contacts on a piece of information that I couldn’t really process at first — information that is so unbelievable, even from a source this solid, that I couldn’t report it. With this new WSJ report on an Apple/Sprint deal, however, it doesn’t look so crazy. Hit the break for more.

I have been told that Sprint will be getting the iPhone 5 — yes the real iPhone 5, not the iPhone 4S — as an exclusive. And it will be a 4G WiMAX device. AT&T and Verizon would launch the iPhone 4S and get the iPhone 5 some time in the first quarter of next year as an LTE device. Globally, the iPhone 5 might be available as a 4G HSPA+ device.

In this scenario, the iPhone 4S Apple will introduce tomorrow will feature the following:

  • A low voltage Apple A5 CPU (it won’t be the same as the iPad 2 chip, clock for clock).
  • Updated front and back camera sensors. FaceTime HD in the front, 8-megapixel 1080p HD video recording in the back.
  • Multiband 3G Qualcomm chipset — North American & International GSM/UMTS/HSPA bands for AT&T and Global carriers, North American CDMA & International GSM/UMTS/HSPA bands for Verizon and Sprint.
  • NFC support.
  • Metal or “premium” plastic on the back case.

And here is what my source said about the iPhone 5 that will launch as a Sprint exclusive:

  • Faster CPU.
  • Larger 4-inch screen, similar to LG’s NOVA display but with a higher resolution.
  • 1GB of RAM.
  • Slightly larger design overall, but thinner and with a larger battery.
  • 32GB of storage.
  • iPhone 5 exclusive software and APIs (Assistant).
  • Dedicated Assistant button, possibly integrated with the new home button, “think gestures or a two-stage button like a camera shutter key).

I told my source that even if Sprint paid Apple hundreds of millions, a Sprint iPhone 5 exclusive still would never happen. $20 billion in guaranteed iPhone sales, though? We’ll see tomorrow.

Jonathan Geller founded Boy Genius Report, now known as BGR, in 2006. It became the biggest mobile news destination in the world by the end of 2009, and BGR was acquired by leading digital media company PMC in April 2010.

Jonathan is President of the newly formed BGR Media, LLC., and Editor-in-chief of the BGR website.

What started as a side project at the age of 16, quickly transpired into 24-hour days and nights of sharing exclusive and breaking news about the mobile communications industry. BGR now reaches up to 100 million readers a month through the website, syndication partners, and additional channels.