iPhone 5 may cause Sprint to bet the farm

If there's one measure of a device's popularity and success, it's the willingness of a single company to bet their entire livelihood on future sales. That's quite possibly what's happening right this second behind the scenes at Sprint, where the 3rd largest mobile carrier in America appears to be making a multibillion dollar deal with Apple which will score them an exclusive deal with the iPhone 5. Sound like a possibility? Would Apple be swayed by $20 billion dollars from the pockets of Sprint, a deal that wouldn't even have Sprint breaking even until 2014? We shall see!

Several sources including the Wall Street Journal and BGR are saying that not only will Sprint be dropping cash enough to purchase 30.5 million iPhones, they'll be getting an iPhone 5 exclusive. This device, the iPhone 5, mind you, not the iPhone 4S, will be running on the carrier's 4G WiMAX network and will be exclusive to Sprint until AT&T and Verizon get ahold of it as an LTE device some time in the first quarter of 2012.

The iPhone 5 is now said to be the following device: a Sprint exclusive handset with a faster CPU than in previous models, 4-inch display similar to LG's NOVA display with higher resolution, 1GB of RAM, iPhone 5 exclusive software and API's (including the Virtual Personal Assistant we spoke about earlier today,) larger chassis with thinner profile and larger battery, 32GB storage, and dedicated Assistant button, "possibly integrated with the new home button, "think gestures or a two-stage button like a camera shutter key)." And a marginally possible 4G HSPA+ release as well.

The iPhone 4S would therefor be something like this: multiband 3G connectivity via Qualcomm: international GSM/UMTS/HSPA, North American bands, and North American CDMA – connections to everyone, basically. A metal or rather high-quality plastic on the back, NFC for digital wallets, and an A5 chip that's similar, though not the same, as what's found currently in the iPad 2. Finally, an updated camera with some higher rating on both sides, the back being an 8 megapixel 1080p almost certainly.

WSJ's source has Sprint Chief Executive Dan Hesse speaking with their board as recently as August on how this deal would have Sprint losing money, again, until 2014, and that the carrier would have to agree to purchase at least 30.5 million iPhones over the next four years, this whether or not people would end up buying them in the end. On top of this, Sprint, according to these same sources, would have to subsidize each phone to something like $500, this quite possibly leading to more time before the group would break even.

What do you think? Could it be? Also note the numbers – will this many iPhones over the next several years mean that Apple is aiming for a less expensive model overall?

Will every person on Earth own an iPhone?

On the other hand, I really can't believe it. Apple isn't going to give another exclusive out to a carrier when they've already played that game with AT&T, and from what we've heard thus far, Apple isn't aiming to restrict its sales in such a way, instead aiming straight for the moon with a lower cost iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 on several carriers all at once. Even my theory that the iPhone 4S will be released for free seems less outlandish, if you ask me.

You can get the real deal info straight from the Lion's mouth tomorrow! Join us tomorrow here in the main news feed or head over to our Let's Talk iPhone Livecast for the LIVE version of all the info, this starting at 10AM PT, October 4th, 2011. Be there!