A Sprint iPad or iPad Mini could make an appearance at the Apple Special event on October 23rd, bringing the popular tablet to Sprint’s growing 4G LTE network.
Sprint’s expanding 4G LTE network and the single CDMA iPhone 5 model using a new 4G LTE chip, could bring the iPad to Sprint’s network.
Leaked iPad model numbers don’t include a third model for a Sprint iPad Mini or Sprint iPad, but that’s not necessary. The iPhone 5 model for Sprint and Verizon shares a model number. Users can’t jump between carriers, but to Apple’s systems, there is a single iPhone 5 model number shared between these two devices.
Based on leaks from 9to5Mac, Apple will announce an updated iPad on Tuesday with a new lightning connector, but we could see Apple include the new LTE chip from the iPhone 5 in the iPad and iPad Mini to deliver a model that works on Sprint’s 3G and 4G LTE networks and on Verizon’s networks.
Sprint is growing their 4G LTE network, with over 100 planned cities and markets set to receive 4G LTE coverage in the coming months, including San Francisco and other major metropolitan areas. Compared to the New iPad launch, Sprint’s current 24 markets is vastly more attractive, and the planned expansion is promising.
Other recent moves including Sprint’s purchase of a majority share of Clearwire and the pending Softbank acquisition put Sprint in a better place to carry the iPad Mini and a refreshed New iPad, but are too recent to impact the launch of the iPad Mini and a refreshed iPad.
The Softbank acquisition should give Sprint a better bargaining chip to discuss the terms of a Sprint iPad, but the Softbank acquisition deal may not close until the middle of next year, after approval from the FCC and other regulatory agencies.
If there is no Sprint iPad announced at Tuesday’s special event, users may need to wait until late 2013 for an iPad that runs on Sprint’s network.
Sprint does not offer unlimited tablet data plans, rather starts with 3GB data plans for $34.95 a month and there are no share plans to add a tablet for $10 a month like on Verizon and AT&T.