Sprint to Launch iPhone 4S This Fall, Say Insiders

Sprint may become the next major US carrier to introduce the iPhone when Apple’s next generation touchscreen handset rolls out, likely this fall.

Reports surfaced Monday that Sprint is now actively testing the next generation iPhone, which is believed to be called the iPhone 4S.

Analysts widely agree that the third-largest U.S. carrier needs to sell the popular smartphone to stay competitive with the nation’s two largest carriers, AT&T and Verizon Wireless, both of which offer the iPhone 4.

The 5th generation iPhone is expected to be a “hybrid” unit of sorts that is capable of working on both CDMA and GSM networks. If the rumor mill has cranked out a credible lead, the iPhone 4S would initially run on Sprint’s 3G wireless network, not WiMax.

Sprint carrying the iPhone has been among the hottest rumors in mobile since the previous biggest rumor – the iPhone coming to Verizon – became reality earlier this year. Beginning on the very afternoon of the Verizon iPhone announcement, speculation emerged that Sprint was all but certainly going to offer the iPhone.

“Not having an iPhone puts Sprint at a competitive disadvantage,” Jack Gold, an analyst at J.Gold Associates, tells ComputerWorld. “Sprint currently doesn’t have a ‘halo effect’ device, even though they have tried with devices like the HTC Evo and now the coming Motorola Photon.”

Three weeks ago, Jeffries analyst Peter Misek said that the iPhone 4S would sport the A5 dual-core processor (same as iPad 2); boast an 8MP camera; work with Sprint, T-Mobile USA and China Mobile; and would be HSPA+ capable.

Production on the next-generation iPhone is reportedly going to commence in July.