iPhone 5 release date rumors: Verizon+Sprint-ers salivate, 4S pummeled

Four days til Apple announces the iPhone 5, with a release date to follow later in the month. Unless it announces an iPhone 4S instead. The new iPhone will be on Verizon, good news for all those Verizon customers who cheered the arrival of the Verizon iPhone 4 and then immediately decided not to buy it because they reasoned the Verizon iPhone 5 was coming just a couple months behind it. Oops. There’s mounting evidence pointing to a Sprint iPhone forthcoming next week alongside Verizon and AT&T, and Sprint seems to be desperate to let the cat out of the bag in the

mean time, but that’s no guarantee it’ll happen. T-Mobile says it’s not getting the iPhone 5 this year, but that could be a mere temporary smokescreen. There are those who say they’ll buy an iPhone 5 no matter what but won’t buy an iPhone 4S no matter what, despite not knowing a single feature or spec regarding either. Welcome to the wacky final days leading up to the 2011 iPhone press event, where everyone has their mind made up and knows everything, except that it’ll all go out the window by mid-day Tuesday. But as a recap, here’s a sampling of what we and others think we know about the iPhone 5 at this point, and where we think we stand with it…

There will be a new iPhone next week. It’ll run iOS 5, which Apple has already shown up huge chunks of. And based on the invite tease it’ll apparently include a voice activated feature, which lines up with external talk of “Assistant” voice control. Verizon and AT&T are locks for U.S. carriers. Sprint appears as a probability. Whether the new iPhone talks to newer networks like 4G LTE and HSPA+ is something we’ll have to wait to find out. Shockingly little is known regarding the overall feature set of the new iPhone. Also unconfirmed is whether it’ll go by the name “iPhone 5″ or by something less ambitious like “iPhone 4S” and even then, it’s not clear whether an “iPhone 5″ would be a radical step forward or whether it would be a modestly revised iPhone 4 with a fresh number merely attached to it. It’s this uncertainty which has many would-be buyers attempting to conditionally figure out what they’ll do in each of the above scenarios. Jonathan says he’s getting the new iPhone no matter what: “I’m getting the new iPhone now matter what, whether its the 5 or 4S,” he says. But he’s got special motivation. After deciding that his current Android phone would be his last and that he’d be moving to iPhone eventually, he’s now in more of a hurry. “As of yesterday the touchscreen on my android lg ally stopped working and I’m stuck navigating via the arrows on the keyboard which is horrible.”

Like many other Sprint customers, Francis is convinced Sprint is getting the iPhone 5, pointing to increasing amounts of circumstantial evidence: “They are increasing early termination fees and they are getting rid of their sprint premier customer program.” This comes even as Sprint has been caught installing repeaters around Apple Stores, which wouldn’t be the case if those stores weren’t about to begin selling a Sprint-compatible phone. There’s also the odd number of Apple Stores suddenly closing their doors for days at a time ahead of the launch. One location in San Francisco is closed with a sign out front saying it’ll reopen on October 5th, and an AT&T van was mysteriously spotted out front. On the other side of the country, Fierce Poet observes the same: “The local Birmingham store is set to be closed Monday through Thursday of next week as well. What’s going on? I’ve seen reports of other stores being closed next week too.” There is, of course, more…

Not the first to express such a sentiment, Werd believes Apple is playing us regarding the ever-dragging iPhone 5 release date. “I am just ready for them to tell us already. I guess this builds some demand for it. It is actually quite genius. You are gambling that you will keep people guessing for a few months instead of buying a android, but as we all know apple has the superior operating system so it is a gamble that they are willing to and can take. Honestly It has made me want the iPhone 5 so much more, just because I have had to wait for it. The release date is getting free press and building so much more anticipation than a commercial ever could.”

Finally, circling back to the persistent Sprint iPhone 5 rumors, Walter reports that he “called Sprint and they did not have a clue about the iPhone.” He may have missed the part where Sprint explicitly instructed its employees to stop talking to customers about the iPhone one way or the other, which others have interpreted as being even more evidence that Sprint is gearing up for the iPhone and battening down the hatches in the mean time. Good luck spending the next few days trying to put together the iPhone 5 pieces, only to have your constructions shattered come Tuesday. The event is nearly here, but the game is already afoot. Here’s more on the iPhone 5.
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