Does $20B = iPhone 5 Exclusivity for Sprint?

How did Sprint finally score the iPhone? It did so by guaranteeing to Apple that it would purchase 30.5 million iPhones over the next 4 years, amount to $20 billion worth of the handsets, at current pricing.

That's just part of the story emerging on Monday, the day before the next-generation iPhone launch. Not only did Sprint buy its way into the iPhone party, it bought its way into an iPhone 5 exclusive.

At least, those are the stories circulating today. The Wall Street Journal reports only on how Sprint managed to get into the iPhone threesome in the U.S. With the huge investment in the iPhone, the WSJ says the Sprint has "bet the company" on the deal.

Meanwhile, BGR says it's been sitting on some information, which didn't make sense before, but makes sense now, with the WSJ information. Their report is that Sprint, the No. 3 carrier in the U.S., will get exclusivity on the iPhone 5 at launch in the United States.

Additionally, the iPhone 5 will sport WiMax 4G, and will support HSPA+ faux 4G globally (which once again makes sense and confirms a recent statement by a China Unicom exec said the iPhone 5 would have HSPA+ capability).

Then, in Q1 2012, AT&T and Verizon will launch their own 4G iPhone 5s, but based on LTE technology. Once again, this also makes sense, as currently LTE chipsets are very bad for battery life, and both networks, especially AT&T's, are still building out.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse

The devices would spec out as follows:

iPhone 4S
  • A low-voltage Apple A5 CPU (different than the iPad 2 chip, and translation = slower).
  • Updated front and back camera sensors. FaceTime HD in the front, 8-megapixel 1080p HD video recording in the back.
  • Multiband 3G Qualcomm chipset. This was already expected based on the Verizon iPhone 4. It would support North American and International GSM/UMTS/HSPA bands for AT&T and global carriers, and North American CDMA and International GSM/UMTS/HSPA bands for Verizon, Sprint, and others.
  • NFC support.
  • Metal or “premium” plastic on the back case, no more glass backing that can shatter.
Sprint iPhone 5
  • Faster A5 CPU; unclear but possibly the same as the iPad 2.
  • 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. Cases have leaked the larger, thinner design.
  • 32GB of storage.
  • iPhone 5 exclusive software and APIs (Siri Assistant).
  • Dedicated Assistant button, possibly integrated with the new home button, “think gestures or a two-stage button like a camera shutter key).
It's hard to believe; it's a wild, wild rumor. And that's all it is at this time. Thing is: as we said several times in the article, it all makes sense.

We'll see later today.