All that free support to unlockers might not have been in vain. Merrill Lynch analyst Scott Craig reports in a note to clients Thursday that Deutsche Telekom could announce a long-expected iPhone deal for T-Mobile USA as early as next week. Funny, we thought the German carrier could not afford Apple’s handset.

“We recognize that it has been a point of churn for us”, the carrier’s op-chief recently said in response to concerns related to lack of iPhone in its offering. The company confirmed it lost nearly half a million subscribers because of the iPhone 5 launch.

Truth be told, T-Mobile, which has 33 million customers, now hosts about 1.5 million unlocked iPhones on its network. Moreover, it’s been rolling out its iPhone-friendly HSPA+ network on the 1900MHz band in more markets. Our take is that a T-Mobile iPhone is inevitable, if not imminent…

Philip Elmer-DeWitt of the Fortune blog relays Merrill Lynch Scott Craig’s note claiming “speculation is heightening” that Deutsche Telecom will announce a deal to bring the popular smartphone to its U.S. subsidiary at next week’s analysts day.

If true, the rumored distribution agreement will add T-Mobile’s 33 million subscribers to Apple’s addressable market in the United States, essentially giving the iPhone access to a nice 98 percent of the nation’s post-paid base as well as to three-quarters (75 percent) of the country’s total mobile subscribers.

The analyst concludes in his note:

While this would be incrementally positive, any financial impact would be limited.

His assessment contrasts that of T-Mobile’s op-chief Jim Alling who said at Morgan Stanley’s Technology, Media & Telecoms Conference earlier this month:

Make no mistake about it: We would love to carry the iPhone. However, we want the economies to be right for us.

The analyst estimates a deal with Apple could potentially add about four million iPhones to his current estimate of 179 million iPhones for calendar 2013.

The distribution agreement with the nation’s fourth-largest carrier would also increase Apple’s revenue by one percent, boosting earnings per share by as much as two percent.

The company in a blog post cites its own tests painting the unlocked iPhone 4S on its 1900MHz HSPA+ network as having on average 70 percent faster download speeds than AT&T iPhone 4S devices.

I’m on T-Mobile here in Europe and just out of curiosity: would the official deal with Apple be a big deal for American consumers?

After all, they do have some nice 4G unlimited plans.

  • J M

    If this happens will it bring support for MMS and iMessage (I can do it with an email address but no option to add my cell phone number) to iPhones that have been unlocked by AT&T? Right now I don’t have either on my unlocked iPhone 4S on T-Mobile

    • Once the release is official of course it will.

      • J M

        Well thanks! Obviously it wasn’t “of course”, as I needed to ask…

    • have you Jailbroken your phone yet? There is a package that will add MMS to your T-Mobile iPhone. I actually did it to two T-mobile iPhones for my cousins this past Thanksgiving. I believe you can also do it without jailbreaking by tinkering with the network settings but I could be wrong.

      • J M

        The phone is on iOS 6.0.1, so no jailbreaking. I had read a whole bunch of threads, and it seems like the consensus is that sometimes changing the network settings worked and for some it didn’t. I also saw that people lost their 3G connectivity and were bumped back down to Edge when they changed those settings.

    • Configure the picture message settings under the MMS section:
      MMS Proxy: (Leave Blank for 4S)
      MMS Max Message Size: 1048576 (Leave Blank for 4S)
      MMS UA Prof URL:

    • ghulamsameer

      Hmm… I have a factory unlocked 4S and I have no trouble with iMessage and mms… Do you have your apn settings plugged in?

  • Even though you would probably still only get 2G (Edge) for awhile until they upgrade all of their towers, data speeds would probably still be faster than Sprint’s terrible 3G. I may just have to go back to TMO after all if this deal goes down. This is cool!

  • JWu

    They could announce it next week but it probably won’t be released until spring 2013. I don’t think Apple could stand their newest iPhone on Edge.

  • Hope they get a deal and could make the prepaid iPhone 5 cheaper

  • Talk about a clusterf&$k if they do it before upgrading their network.

  • ghulamsameer

    The refarm is slow and steady! There are more and more 3G pockets everywhere I go in metro Atlanta, and my speeds range from 5-10 Mbps. People have said that when T-Mobile officially announces a certain market as refarmed, their speeds actually have improved, so that’s what I’m hoping for.

  • How funny , i just switched my number from Tmobile to Sprint to get the iphone 5 , didn’t like Sprint slow 3G , so i got Verizon iphone 5 … Been with tmobile for longtime and was waiting for ever to get the Tmobile iphone had 5lines , all of them unlocked iphone working on Tmobile 2G , now only have two lines ….one is my wife’s iPhone 4S and the other one nothing just left it without a phone , so now i can use it to get an iphone 5 for the holiday … Great … I hope this works out 🙂

  • about time…lololol but tmobile can still go tok hell cause they suck….

  • Got 3G service with my T-mobile i5 in Chicago

    • How about Evanston? What kind of speeds are you getting? I switched from T-Mobile to Verizon to get a 4S a year and a half ago, I have been disappointed in the 3G speeds. Currently 1.8Mbps down and 0.75Mbps up. When I was with T-Mobile, I had a Galaxy S Vibrant, that I roomed/rooted and was able to get 15Mbps down / 10Mbps up on HSPA+.

    • Yup Bolingbrook just lit up all iPhones and unlocked AT&T phones on tmobile now have 3G/4g

  • Jawad Tarraf

    i get 3g ev erywere now