Rumor Time: Is the iPhone 4 Coming to T-Mobile this Year?

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You might want to take this with a grain of salt, but rumors have started circulating that T-Mobile could be getting the iPhone 4 in the 3rd quarter of this year. The rumor was started by Cult of Mac, which cites an unnamed but “highly placed” source at T-Mobile. Of course, we will not know for sure until the 3rd quarter comes and goes, but the rumor does have just enough tidbits of truth in it to seem plausible.

Both AT&T and T-Mobile use similar GSM network technology and it is already possible to use any unlocked model of iPhone on T-Mobile’s network. However, T-Mobile uses different bandwidths (1700 and 2100 MHz) for its 3G network than AT&T does, which prevents the first three iPhone models from accessing the much faster data connection.  While the new iPhone 4 does add 2100 MHz as a supported bandwidth, no one is yet sure if the 1700 bandwidth has been secretly added. We will not be sure until the newest smartphone from Apple is finally jailbroken and unlocked.

If the iPhone 4 really does support both 3G bandwidths that T-Mobile uses, then this rumor really could hold water. No hardware changes from AT&T’s version would be necessary and a simple carrier configuration update would allow the phone to work on both networks. This might be bad news though for anyone who has been desperately waiting for Verizon Wireless to get the iPhone as a whole other set of rumors is claiming that it will get the iPhone in January 2011. A Verizon compatible iPhone would require an entirely different radio chipset, as Verizon uses CDMA technology for its network, which is incompatible with what is currently in the iPhone 4. Will Apple be willing to put the iPhone on two new carriers so quickly?

As for the my independent fact checking of the rumor, Cult of Mac incorrectly attributed an assertion by the Financial Times’ as a quote from René Obermann—T-Mobile USA’s parent company’s CEO. The ‘quote’ was “T-Mobile USA is hoping to start selling the popular smartphone later this year or next year.” I would not bet the farm on this rumor, but it is possible.

Weigh in and let me know if you think T-Mobile will really be getting the iPhone 4 in the 3rd quarter of this year or if this rumor is as true as the ones back in 2007 that claimed Verizon would be getting the iPhone by its first refresh.

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