Earlier today, T-Mobile announced that they will finally begin carrying the iPhone after years of being left out from offering the device. While many initially suspected that the device would run only on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ and LTE bands, Apple has confirmed to Engadget that they will actually be releasing a modified version of the iPhone 5 with support for T-Mobile’s AWS bands.
Apple’s enabling support of the AWS bands from the factory on the new guy — and sadly, Apple affirmed to us that it’s not something that can be enabled via a simple software update for A1428 iPhone units already in circulation. To say that another way, existing iPhone 5 owners on AT&T cannot simply apply a software patch to have AWS support added. You’ll need to buy a new phone next month.
This is significant for a number of reasons. First, it means that T-Mobile users who already have an unlocked AT&T iPhone 5 will not be able to simply update their device to support T-Mobile’s AWS network – they’ll need to have the new, tweaked model to take advantage of T-Mobile’s proprietary AWS bands.
It’s also significant because Apple resisted modifying the iPhone for T-Mobile for many years, leaving a significant lingering question as to why they have suddenly changed their minds. T-Mobile’s reliance on the AWS wireless standard is the reason they haven’t been able to offer the iPhone until now.
The new T-Mobile iPhone 5 will launch on April 12. Stay tuned to T-Mobile’s website for the latest updates.