Sprint Commits to Buying $20 Billion Worth of iPhones, To Get Redesigned iPhone 5 Exclusively?

sprint logo

The Wall Street Journal reports the Sprint is preparing to "bet the company" on the iPhone, agreeing to purchase 30.5 million units over the next four years regardless of whether they are purchased by customers or not. At a current average selling price of $655 for the iPhone, the agreement is a nearly $20 billion commitment for Sprint.

Mr. Hesse told the board the carrier would have to agree to purchase at least 30.5 million iPhones over the next four years—a commitment of $20 billion at current rates—whether or not it could find people to buy them, according to people familiar with the matter. In order to keep the price people pay for the phone low and competitive with rivals, Sprint would be subsidizing the cost of each phone to the tune of about $500, which would take a long time to recoup even at the high monthly fees iPhone users pay.

With a source calling the projected hit to Sprint's operating income "staggering", the company's directors agreed to the deal as an all-in gamble to give Sprint hopes of competing against AT&T and Verizon.

The report notes that such commitments aren't unusual for Apple's carrier partners, demonstrating the leverage Apple has gained with the iPhone. With multi-year deals carrying unusual provisions for increasing units over time, Apple is locking in carriers for the long haul in much the same way that it has sought to lock in component suppliers for its hardware.

iphone5
In the wake of the new report on Sprint's massive iPhone commitment, BGR separately reports that this development may lend weight to a claim it had heard that had previously seemed outrageous – that the iPhone 5 does indeed exist and that it will launch as a 4G WiMAX device as a Sprint exclusive.

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 WiMAX device. AT&T and Verizon would launch the iPhone 4S and get the iPhone 5 sometime in the first quarter of next year as an LTE device. Globally, the iPhone 5 might be available as a 4G HSPA+ device.

The claim reportedly comes from an "incredibly solid" industry contact and is one which has seemed simply unbelievable. But with Sprint clearly betting the future of the company on the iPhone, it is at least possible that it may have gone to extreme lengths to make a staggering entrance to the iPhone market.

BGR's rumor record has been spotty over time, and it's hard to imagine Apple making this move. Still, we mention it for interest and discussion in the lead-up to tomorrow's media event.

Top Rated Comments

chrmjenkins Avatar
121 months ago
If this is all true and it actually works for Sprint, Hesse is going to need a wheelbarrow to cart his massive balls around in.
Score: 64 Votes (Like | Disagree)
djrod Avatar
121 months ago
So Sprint sells the IPhone 5 and AT&T sells the cases ? :confused:
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
arn Avatar
121 months ago

I'm really torn right now... on one hand, it's the WSJ. They speak volumes and don't usually open their mouths unless they're very sure of their sources.

On the other hand, I can't believe Apple would do this. There isn't a single iPhone 4 user out there that has completed their 2-year contract with AT&T or Verizon. They'd be pissing in the faces of every single iPhone 4 user by not allowing them to upgrade without a ton of hassle.

As much as I trust the WSJ, I'm calling BS. This just doesn't add up, and I don't think Apple would screw this many customers for a few extra bucks. IMO, they'd lose more in iPhone 5 sales than what they'd make from Sprint!

Note there are 2 rumors here.

1. WSJ: Sprint committing $20 billion to Apple
2. BGR: Sprint as an iPhone 5 exclusive

They are separate sources, and honestly, of separate believability. But tied together in reasoning. Sprint is supposedly paying this $20 billion to get exclusivity.

arn
Score: 44 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MacDawg Avatar
121 months ago
I can see Sprint being cut in, but not exclusively
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
whawhat Avatar
121 months ago
With Apple expanding the number of carriers that carry the iPhone worldwide, why would Apple take a step backward and make there #1 money making product available only on Sprint? It makes no sense.

Sprint carrying the iPhone starting Oct. 4th makes more sense.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
oiuh151 Avatar
121 months ago
Lol, BGR. When was the last time they got a rumor correct?
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iphone 5s black slate

Images of Unreleased iPhone 5s in Black and Slate Shared Online

Sunday January 17, 2021 9:47 am PST by
Twitter user @DongleBookPro has today shared images of a prototype iPhone 5s in an unreleased Black and Slate color. The iPhone 5s was launched in September 2013. The device featured Touch ID, a 64-bit processor, and a True Tone LED flash for the first time. Other new features included a five-element lens with an f/2.2 aperture, a 15 percent larger camera sensor, Burst Mode, and Slo-Mo...
iP12 charge airpods feature 2

Hidden iPhone 12 Hardware Feature Could Still be Unlocked

Thursday January 14, 2021 2:51 am PST by
All iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models purportedly have a hidden reverse wireless charging feature, according to an FCC filing. The feature has not yet been activated, but could yet be unlocked for an upcoming Apple accessory. The FCC filing suggests that iPhone 12 models contain the hardware for Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) to accessories: In addition to being able to be charged by a...
google maps detailed street level e1611052089473

Google Maps Gains Enhanced Street-Level Detail in Four Major Cities

Tuesday January 19, 2021 2:34 am PST by
Google Maps has quietly been updated to include significantly more detailed street-level information in a handful of key cities around the world. Upon zooming in, Google's maps for Central London, Tokyo, San Francisco, and New York now benefit from shapes and widths that match the scale of roads more accurately. Meanwhile, enhanced graphical representations of sidewalks, crosswalks,...
macbook pro flexgate

Apple Extends 13-Inch MacBook Pro Backlight Repair Program

Sunday January 17, 2021 10:31 am PST by
Apple this week extended its worldwide 13-inch MacBook Pro Display Backlight Service Program, authorizing coverage for eligible notebooks for up to five years after the original purchase date or up to three years after the start date of the program, whichever is longer. The previous cutoff was four years after the original purchase date. Apple launched the program on May 21, 2019 after...
lg wing

LG Considering Exit From Smartphone Business, Halts LCD Production for iPhone

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:38 am PST by
LG is considering exiting the smartphone business entirely amid declining shipments and accrued losses of $4.5 billion over the past five years (via The Korea Herald). LG CEO Kwon Bong-Seok cautioned staff earlier today that the company is re-evaluating its presence in the smartphone industry: Since the competition in the global market for mobile devices is getting fiercer, it is about...
airpods max sim ejector

AirPods Max Headband Removable With Just a SIM Ejector Tool, Hinting at Interchangeable Headbands

Tuesday January 19, 2021 8:25 am PST by
It is possible to remove the headband of AirPods Max with just a standard SIM card ejector tool, hinting at the possibility of interchanging headbands to achieve a different colorway. Image via Prelook In December, MacRumors revealed the large variety of AirPods Max ear cushion color combinations when it became clear that they were magnetically attatched and available for sale separately....
macbook pro screensaver table

Some M1 Macs Affected By Fast User Switching Screensaver Bug

Monday January 18, 2021 1:57 am PST by
A growing number of user reports online suggest some of Apple's M1 Mac models are susceptible to a Fast User Switching bug that spontaneously activates the screensaver and leaves the user unable to dismiss it. In macOS Big Sur, Fast User Switching allows users to quickly switch between user accounts without having to completely log out. Based on posts in the MacRumors forums, Apple...
Top Stories 43 Feature

Top Stories: MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Pro, and iPhone Rumors, Best of CES 2021

Saturday January 16, 2021 6:00 am PST by
This week was sure a busy one in the Apple world, with a flurry of announcements out of CES early in the week followed by a rash of Mac- and iPhone-related rumors later in the week. The new rumors this week included details on updated MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac Pro models, as well as a few other tidbits, so make sure to read on below to get caught up! Kuo: New MacBook Pro Models to...
shot on iphone 12 apple

Apple Highlights Photos Shot by iPhone 12 Users: Portraits, Cityscapes, and More

Tuesday January 19, 2021 6:05 am PST by
Apple today shared a gallery of photos shot by customers using the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max, with scenes including cityscapes, landscapes, portraits of people, and more at day and night. Shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max by "NKCHU" in China (top) and shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max by Rohit Vohra in India (bottom) iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 models have a dual camera ...
Apple and Hyundai feature

Apple Car Production Again Linked to Kia Motor's US Plant in Georgia

Tuesday January 19, 2021 4:19 am PST by
Hyundai intends to transition the company's Apple Car involvement to its Kia brand as part of an internal arrangement that could see production move to the U.S., according to a new report today. On Sunday, Korea IT News reported that Apple and Hyundai are seeking a partnership agreement for the upcoming Apple Car by March, and that the electric vehicles could be made at a Georgia factory...