Apple Modifying iPhone 5 For T-Mobile Bands, Existing Devices Won’t Have AWS Support

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Apple has confirmed that it will sell a new version of the A1428 iPhone 5 model to support additional AWS bands for T-Mobile. Unfortunately, that means existing iPhone 5 users will not gain AWS support (on the 1700 band) via any kind of software update. Ultimately, that means that existing iPhone 5 devices won’t support the highest speeds on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network, and will be phased out for the new A1428 model. Said another way, existing iPhone 5 owners using unlocked AT&T models can’t just apply a software update to have AWS support added. The result is you’ll end up having to buy a whole new phone if you demand HSPA+ 1700MHz support in your area.

As of April 12th, which happens to coincide with T-Mobile’s own iPhone 5 release date, Apple will sell the A1428 iPhone 5 with AWS support. The bottom line is that the “new” A1428 model will work on HSPA+ 42Mbps on T-Mobile’s AWS band, which the current iPhone doesn’t support, hence the network refarming. An Apple product manager at T-Mobile’s event says a minor software update will allow T-Mobile’s WCDMA/HSPA+ 1900 band to work with AT&T hardware. The current iPhone 5 model will never work with T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42Mbps 1700MHz network, which is the exact reasoning behind T-Mobile’s network refarm.

All told, this shouldn’t be a huge issue once the network refarming is in your area, but considering the 1900MHz is now maxed out at HSPA+ 21Mbps, you won’t get HSPA+ 42 capabiilty. The new iPhone 5, releasing as of April 12th WILL be able to take advantage of the HSPA+ 42Mbps band. Both current and future iPhone 5 devices will work on T-Mobile’s 1700MHz LTE network.

To recap, current iPhone 5 works on HSPA+21Mbps on the 1900MHz band with the network refarm and 1700MHz LTE. The iPhone 5 releasing on April 12th will work on all the above plus HSPA+42 Mbps on the 1700MHz band.

All of that said and moving beyond the initial reaction, I never expected my current iPhone 5 to work on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42Mbps so this isn’t a huge surprise, nor disappointment.

More reading:

Engadget, iLounge

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  • The Architect

    Now that’s freaking hilarious!!! XD It would’ve been too easy to keep all them thrifty iPhonys happy on the same bands! c’est la vie!!!

  • Elier Ruiz

    I’ll be first in line come April12th!

  • mikkej2k

    Sooooo , there will be a wifi calling app?

  • The Architect

    BAHAHAHA!!! XD Now that’s freaking hilarious!!! So much for all the thrifty iPhoneys staying on the same bands! LMFAO!!!

  • Whitney

    I feel happy that waited to get the iphone.

  • nd5

    David, I have a question I’d like to get your perspective on. One of the major issues we had was that T-Mobile’s frequencies were on a unique band that wasn’t compatible with AT&T’s. This meant that in general, we needed phones that were unique to T-Mobile, and that limited our choices dramatically, i.e. no HTC One X, no Nokia 900, etc…

    Are we going down the same path with T-Mobile’s fledgling LTE network? Are we going to be kept out of the loop on many of the “best” phones because we’re now on a unique LTE network as well?

  • Tony

    I went to the Apple store today and I wanted to buy a factory unlocked iPhone 5 (the new updated one) and they had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. They even tried selling me the 1900MHZ version and said it was the newest one. I ended up going to my T-mobile store and purchased a 32GB one up front for $649.99 instead of Apple’s 16GB for $649.99. Apple Store employees don’t know everything they claim to know..

  • Tarun

    Is there an update on the network refarm. the refarming is not complete in my area, and data is apalling on my iphone 5 old model purchased in jan 2013?