Why won't Apple update firmware on current iPhone 5's to support Tmobile?

kch50428

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It's very confusing. Apple's filing with the FCC about the change says it's software only.

My guess: A Qualcomm radio chip firmware change is not a "user serviceable" thing... it's likely they are getting chips from Qualcomm with a different firmware pre-installed on the chips - hence noting a 'hardware' change... It's not something that can be "fixed" by Apple with an iOS update.
 

sting7k

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I get that but the whole situation still doesn't make sense to me. They added additional LTE bands with one of the recent iOS updates. So I fail to see why 3G bands cannot be enabled the same way.

It would save Apple and I time and money.
 

BreakingKayfabe

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Maybe because T-Mobile would rather have people purchasing a phone directly from them instead
of bringing their existing iPhones over like people have been doing the last couple of years.
 

phonejunky

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AnandTech | Apple to Ship Updated A1428 iPhone 5 With AWS WCDMA Enabled for T-Mobile USA

So there we have it. The iPhone 5 does support Tmobile's network completely. Why would Apple not release the new firmware for iPhones already in the wild?

My solution I guess is to just wait and get my iPhone exchanged at some point in the future. But it just seems easier to update my firmware.

If I were Apple I wouldn't do it, and if I was T-Mobile I also wouldn't want my network overloaded ahead of time either.

Sent from a pure Google experience.
 

natasftw

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I get that but the whole situation still doesn't make sense to me. They added additional LTE bands with one of the recent iOS updates. So I fail to see why 3G bands cannot be enabled the same way.

It would save Apple and I time and money.
Consider old am radios. When fm came out, it would have been nice to just turn the knob further and get the fm. But, that required a hardware update.

Now consider a new am radio station going on the air. It requires the same tech, same hardware, just a different frequency within the predetermined band.

While the two ideas sound similar in that they just appear to access different bands, the solution isn't the same.
 

projectman

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I use Family Mobile (T-Mobile's non-contract option) for one of the phones in my household. The only requirements were that we had to have an unlocked iPhone, which we provided with an old 3GS, and one of T-Mobile's compatible sim cards. They didn't do anything except give me the card and then walk me through the set up process on the phone. Is that the hardware you were referring to?
 

natasftw

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What part about it still confuses you?

Adding lte bands just means using tech already on the phone to tune a different band.

Adding a new tech means implementing the tech on the phone.

What you're saying is similar to a future release of the iPhone5 carrying NFC hardware and you being upset there's not a software change in your phone to reflect the modified hardware in newly sold models.

Even if they updated iOS to do what you'd like, you lack the hardware to accomplish the task.
 

Fausty82

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Not any clearer, lulz. Whatever though, some time this summer I'll just go to an Apple Store and make up some reason to get it swapped. If that's how they want to play, game on.


Some people feel entitled to everything a device manufacturer makes, regardless of WHEN they purchase their device. Devices are not future-proof. You got exactly what your paid for. Live with it.
 

sting7k

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What part about it still confuses you?

Adding lte bands just means using tech already on the phone to tune a different band.

Adding a new tech means implementing the tech on the phone.

What you're saying is similar to a future release of the iPhone5 carrying NFC hardware and you being upset there's not a software change in your phone to reflect the modified hardware in newly sold models.

Even if they updated iOS to do what you'd like, you lack the hardware to accomplish the task.

The only difference is the firmware. It's the exact same chip inside.

I'm not feeling entitled. I'm just confused! I guess no one looked at my link that has Apple's filing with the FCC that there are absolutely no changes to the device hardware and it is a completely software/firmware change.

From the filing - "The addition of this UTMS band does not require any hardware changes to the approved device."
 

kch50428

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As I said above - it is my guess that the firmware involved is not end-user update-able - as in it's the firmware of the Qualcomm radio chipset in the phone which is delivered to Apple pre-installed, and once chipsets are installed into phones they can't be updated or changed on the level needed to add and/or adjust radio frequency bands are able to be used.
 

eastbayrae

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Not any clearer, lulz. Whatever though, some time this summer I'll just go to an Apple Store and make up some reason to get it swapped. If that's how they want to play, game on.

Apple has reached out with a further clarification on the network compatibility of the existing iPhone 5: Customers that own the current iPhone 5 sold unlocked and for AT&T can use it on T-Mobile's HSPA+ 21Mbps and LTE networks, though it will not work on the carrier's HSPA+ 42Mbps network. Once T-Mobile starts selling the iPhone on April 12th, the iPhone 5 will be sold with support for both HSPA+ 42Mbps and LTE on T-Mobile's network. This article has been adjusted to account for the update.

That seems pretty clear to me.
 

ghostface147

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I get that but the whole situation still doesn't make sense to me. They added additional LTE bands with one of the recent iOS updates. So I fail to see why 3G bands cannot be enabled the same way.

You're confused. They didn't physically enable new bands for LTE in the 6.1 update. The bands were already there. They added more LTE support, which means carriers worked with Apple for proper support. LTE (along with 3G/4G) won't work properly on carriers unless Apple and the carriers create profiles to 100% talk to each other. This is why certain features didn't work or were quirky with unlocked AT&T phones on T-Mobile (MMS and Visual Voicemail come to mind). There wasn't proper software support (carrier profile). The current issue with getting new phones with proper AWS support is hardware related. Qualcomm has to do something physically from the factory to the chips to enable the AWS band necessary for the 3G/4G T-mobile network. Same concept as nvidia shipping various video card models with a certain number of CUDA cores disabled or enabled. You can't turn an nvidia 660 Ti into a 680 via a software/firmware update even though it's the same chip in all above referenced models. The change is in the hardware.
 
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