Rumor: AT&T staffer confirms no iPhone 5 this summer

May 4, 2011
Tech

More anecdotal evidence that the iPhone 5 (or maybe the iPhone 4S) won’t be hitting shelves this summer is hitting the Internet, this time in the form of a rumor started by an AT&T (T) customer care representative. MacRumors has the story, which even they admit is a little thin but still worth sharing. A […]

More anecdotal evidence that the iPhone 5 (or maybe the iPhone 4S) won’t be hitting shelves this summer is hitting the Internet, this time in the form of a rumor started by an AT&T (T) customer care representative.

MacRumors has the story, which even they admit is a little thin but still worth sharing. A reader of that site reports that his upgrade eligibility date on his AT&T iPhone had been moved back almost five months. When he called to see what the deal was, the AT&T rep on the phone blamed Apple (AAPL).

The rep spoke about how AT&T determines upgrade eligibility and cited, apparently, that part of that eligibility has to do with when manufacturers release devices. Then the rep made this statement:

“Apple has informed us that they do not plan to release the iPhone in the June to July timeframe, though there will be a newer version in the future. Unfortunately, we have not been given a release time for the new phone. We will release this information on our website when it is available to us.”

Fishy-sounding? Yeah, just a bit, considering I was hard-pressed to find any such device-specific upgrade information on AT&T’s website. It seems strange to me that AT&T would want to force iPhone users to upgrade to iPhones only, when they could just as easily migrate to another phone and pay a similar rate (or even downgrade should they choose to, it seems strange that AT&T would want to encourage people to drop their service entirely just to get hold of a cheaper phone).

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Either way, this isn’t a rumor that’s easy to confirm, but it is in line with the various corporate rumblings that have been coming out of Cupertino in the last month or so. As MacRumors points out, it’d be a little bit weird to have someone as low on the totem pole as a customer service rep with this kind of secret information, but you never know.

Rumors about the release of the next iPhone have been fast and furious of late, with a few big sources including Bloomberg stating that Apple will be skipping the usual release announcement at its World Wide Developers Conference in June in favor of a later launch sometime in the fall. Among the reasons for the delay, presumably, are the Verizon (VZ) iPhone 4 and the white iPhone 4, both of which have only recently become available: the Verizon iPhone showed up on shelves in February and the white iPhone has only been on sale for a week or so.

It makes sense that Apple is pushing back the release of a new phone to give those two devices a little room to breathe, and to avoid pulling the rug out from under new Verizon customers who would have bought a dated phone in February only to see a more powerful version come out in June — although September isn’t really that much different. Whether you count this latest rumor in the “fall iPhone release” column of evidence or just another regurgitated bit of speculation, it seems the consensus has us all waiting a few extra months to upgrade.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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