A prototype iPhone 4 with support for T-Mobile USA’s wireless frequencies has turned up “in the wild”, raising the possibility that a third U.S. carrier will be offering Apple’s very popular iOS-based smartphone. When this is going to happen is not known, though.
T-Mobile uses some of the standard wireless frequencies, but its 3G and 4G networks uses some very non-standard ones, called AWS. An unlocked iPhone designed for AT&T cannot connect to T-Mobile’s high-speed data service, but the new prototype iPhone can.
This device does not automatically mean that T-Mobile is just about to launch Apple’s smartphone, though. This carrier is in the process of being acquired by its larger rival AT&T, and AT&T intends to keep using T-Mobile’s 3G network, so at some point, Apple will need to produce an iPhone with support for AWS. It’s possible the prototype unit that has shown up on the Web is intended to be a step in that direction.
The device is a version of the iPhone 4, which first debuted from AT&T last Summer. The iPhone 5 is now expected to launch this fall, but T-Mobile might be getting a version of last year’s model before then.
The prototype is in a white casing; the long-delayed white version of the iPhone 4 is going be introduced by AT&T and Verizon later this week, if rumors are correct.