Sprint’s not being left out of the cheap iPhone party entirely, with the $99 iPhone 4 joining the iPhone 4S in the Now Network’s lineup.
The 8 GB iPhone 4 is available for pre-order now from Sprint’s website. Pre-orders for the iPhone 4S begin on Friday. Sprint says it’s doing its best to deliver both models on October 14—the same day the new iPhone goes on sale in stores—or the day after.
As expected, Sprint will offer unlimited data with the iPhone, as it does with all other smartphones. Although pundits wondered whether demand for the iPhone would cause Sprint to crack down on data use, tiered data on Sprint always seemed like a longshot to me. Unlimited data is Sprint’s main competitive advantage against Verizon’s often-reliable 3G network and AT&T’s superior HSPA+ data speeds. Without it, new smartphone buyers would have little reason to try Sprint instead of its two larger competitors.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Sprint is getting the iPhone 3GS, which AT&T is now giving away for free with a two-year contract. This also isn’t a big surprise. Unlike the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, the 3GS was never designed to accommodate CDMA networks like those of Sprint and Verizon. (Verizon’s not getting the 3GS either.) At this point, prospective iPhone buyers should probably try to scrape together the extra $100 for an iPhone 4 anyway. It’s got a sharper display, a front-facing camera, a better rear-facing camera with flash and a faster processor, and it’ll likely get at least one more major software update beyond iOS5.
Apple announced the iPhone 4S on Tuesday. It has the same design as the iPhone 4, but includes a dual-core processor, a faster 8-megapixel camera and Siri, a virtual assistant that responds to natural language. It starts at $199 for a 16 GB model.