Apple to Modify iPhone 5 Hardware to Support T-Mobile’s AWS Network

Posted in Apple News, iPhone on 26/03/2013 by J. Glenn Künzler


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.

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 3.37.30 PM


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.

  • Bradley Wilkinson

    I just purchased an iPhone Unlocked from Apple in March and just passed the return window. Sucks that I can’t enable AWS on it. I’m rather upset about it.

    • That’s unfortunate. You may want to try calling AppleCare to see if they’ll make an exception – sometimes they are willing to go the extra mile to keep their customers happy.

      • Bradley Wilkinson

        Sorry, was a bit later than that. Found my receipt, Feb 19th. I think that would be unlikely at this point. Good to be hopeful.

      • Bradley Wilkinson

        Hmm, I’m thinking AppleCare may be issuing the AWS enabled iPhone 5 to users that do not have AWS units if a problem arises needing a device replacement. I will keep this in mind, as I am out of the country, and need to replace my iPhone 5 due to WiFi issues. It has horrid WiFi reception and performance anywhere I go.

  • Bradley Wilkinson

    Rather upset that an iPhone 5 I purchased unlocked just over a month ago cannot have AWS enabled. I hope there is a “Trade up” program available that way I can purchase an AWS capable handset without shelling out another $600.

  • Bradley Wilkinson

    That was weird. Comment vanished, now it is back. I thought it was eaten. Whoops.


J. Glenn Künzler

Glenn is Managing Editor at MacTrast, and has been using a Mac since he bought his first MacBook Pro in 2006. Now he's up to his neck in Apple, and owns an old iBook, a 2012 iMac with an extra Thunderbolt display for good measure, a 4th-generation iPad, an iPad mini, 2 iPhones, and a Mac Mini that lives at the neighbor's house. He lives in a small town in Utah, enjoys bacon more than you can possibly imagine, and is severely addicted to pie.