iPhone 5 coming April 12 to T-Mobile

Yesterday, iDB reported that T-Mobile’s iPhone 5 is actually a factory tweaked version of the existing AT&T model A1428 device, with support for T-Mobile’s LTE AWS bandwidths. As a result, existing AT&T customers cannot use their iPhone 5 to take full advantage of T-Mobile’s LTE speeds until after the Deutsche Telekom-owned telco launches its iPhone 5 on April 12, at which point Apple will replace the existing A1428 hardware with this re-tooled version.

But a hack has come along claiming to make AT&T’s A1428 iPhone 5 – jailbroken and unlocked (officially or unofficially) – work on T-Mobile’s LTE on the 1700MHz band. It accomplishes this by using a custom carrier firmware that enables support for T-Mobile’s LTE AWS bandwidths. However, it won’t make your AT&T device compatible with T-Mobile’s speedy 3G DC-HSDPA on the 1700MHz band nor will your Verizon iPhone be fooled into accepting T-Mobile’s LTE bands…

LEI Mobile takes us through the process of enabling T-Mobile LTE support on your AT&T iPhone 5 hardware.

T-Mobile LTE hack

It involves adding a new repository to Cydia, editing some strings and loading a custom carrier file.

  1. Open Cydia
  2. Tap “Manage” and then tap “Sources”
  3. Tap “Edit” then tap “Add” and put the following URL into the text box: http://v.backspace.jp/repo
  4. Once the URL is entered in tap “Add Source” and allow for it to download all of the repo’s info and packages.
  5. After your iPhone has refreshed, tap the v.backspace.jp/repo field or go to the search bar and find the package CommCenter* patch…
  6. Once you have found it, install it and then reboot your iPhone once completed.
  7. After the iPhone has restarted, open Cydia once again.
  8. Search for iFile. The free version includes basic features. You will want to purchase it to take advantage of all of the features.
  9. Once you have found it, install it. No reboot is required, though you can do it just to be on the safe side.
  10. Once iFile has been installed, close Cydia
  11. Once you’re in iFile tap “Unarchiver” and 3 files will show up above T-Mobile LTE.zip
  12. At the top, tap “edit”and tap the dots with a check mark next to carrier.plist, carrier.pri, overrides_N41_N42.plist, and overrides_N41_N42.pri
  13. Tap the clipboard icon at the bottom and tap “cut”
  14. Now tap “done” at the top and tap the house icon at the bottom then tap Library, then tap Carrier Bundle.bundle (the one in blue), and then tap edit at the top again and tap the clipboard icon. Tap “paste” and it will auto inject the carrier files into the carrier folder overwriting the other files. (you may want to make a backup of these files in case anything goes wrong or we have a backup below.)
  15. After the files have been placed, exit iFile and restart iPhone. After the iPhone restarts, allow it to acquire signal and display the T-Mobile logo then go to where you edit the APN settings (Settings –>General–>Cellular) click reset network settings. Once that is done, enable the LTE toggle and you’re good to go.

Judging by the comments on the LEI Mobile post, the trick indeed works.

The method could save some money to AT&T users looking to jump ship come April 12 as they won’t necessarily have to purchase an iPhone 5 from T-Mobile to enjoy T-Mobile’s LTE.

Again, the trick won’t make your AT&T iPhone work on T-Mobile’s speedy 3G DC-HSDPA 42Mbps network.

Why’s that important?

Because with initially scarce availability of T-Mobile’s LTE (Baltimore, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Jose, and Washington DC), you’d want to be able to fall back to DC-HSDPA whenever you find yourself outside T-Mobile’s LTE coverage. T-Mobile plans to roll out LTE to a hundred million customers by mid-2013 and 200 million people nationwide by year’s end.

Moreover, the hack supports neither T-Mobile’s slower 21Mbps HSPA+ network nor the twice as fast 42Mbps DC-HSDPA one.

On the flip side, MacWorld was able to confirm with Apple that customers using a CDMA iPhone 5 (model A1429) from Verizon, Sprint and other regional CDMA carriers can use T-Mobile’s 21Mbps HSPA+ network, though not its DC-HSDPA or LTE networks.

If these shortcomings sound annoying, you should definitely employ a waiting tactics and buy your device from T-Mobile come April 12.

“If you want to purchase an unlocked iPhone 5 that can work fully on either AT&T or T-Mobile, your best bet is to wait a couple weeks until the newest iPhone 5 arrives,” MacWorld cautions.

T-Mobile’s tweaked A1428 iPhone 5 supports both its 4G LTE and 3G DC-HSPA+ on AWS bandwidths, allowing the handset to fallback fast when you detach from LTE in a T-Mobile market where both networks are available.

Apple officially confirmed to Engadget that it will be phasing out the existing A1428 model iPhone to replace it with the tweaked A1428 model which supports both AT&T and T-Mobile.

An Apple spokesperson told the publication that the company cannot just roll out a software update to existing A1428 iPhone owners because the necessary firmware tweak has to be applied at the factory.

“Apple affirmed to us that it’s not something that can be enabled via a simple software update for A1428 iPhone units already in circulation,” per Engadget.

So, what do you make of all this?