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Apple announced today that it will launch its popular iPhone line on Sprint, the third-largest provider of wireless service in the U.S., at a press event in Cupertino, Calif.
A report by the Wall Street Journal on Monday indicated Sprint spent more than $20 billion on a deal with Apple to secure the iPhone. The report suggested Sprint bought more than 30 million iPhones from the manufacturer. Later reports incorrectly suggested Sprint might have secured an exclusive for the next iPhone while Verizon Wireless and AT&T would get a lesser version of the next phone.
Sprint is the last major carrier (outside of T-Mobile, which AT&T is in the process of buying) that has not secured the iPhone. It has had to survive by offering deals for unlimited data — something Verizon Wireless and AT&T have both abandoned — and popular phones running Google’s mobile operating system Android. That strategy took its toll, as Sprint had some 52 million subscribers at the end of the second quarter this year. In comparison, Verizon Wireless has around 106 million subscribers and AT&T has around 99 million.
Apple also unveiled a revamped line-up for its iPod Nano, a smaller version of the iPod Touch with a touch screen and a pedometer, and a new version of the iPod Touch. While many expected the company to release a drastic upgrade for the phone, the only thing consumers get this fall is a suped-up version of the iPhone 4 called the iPhone 4S. That phone features a more powerful chip, more memory and a better camera, but still looks identical to the iPhone 4.
Pre-orders for the iPhone 4S begin Friday, Oct. 7. The company will start shipping the phone the following week on Oct. 14. It’s available with a new 2-year contract for $199, $299 and $399 for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models of the phone respectively.