Apple’s new iPhone 8 and iPhone X won’t support the extended LTE network that T-Mobile spent $8 billion on acquiring from the FCC earlier this year.
Both of Apple’s new iPhones lack support for the LTE band needed to access T-Mobile’s forthcoming 600MHz network, which provides better coverage in buildings and rural areas throughout the US.
Apple’s tech specs for both the iPhone 8 and iPhone X don’t show support for the Band 71 needed to access the network, and a T-Mobile representative confirmed Friday in a tweet that the 600MHz spectrum won’t be supported by the new phones.
That’s significant news for T-Mobile customers planning to buy one of Apple’s latest iPhones. While T-Mobile’s existing LTE network will continue to be accessible on the new iPhones, the devices won’t have access to the extended coverage that T-Mobile is betting will help it compete with AT&T and Verizon in less urban areas.
“It’s the equivalent of beachfront spectrum, the stuff that works better in buildings and travels further from the tower,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in a video posted earlier this year announcing the carrier’s blockbuster $8 billion purchase of the coveted spectrum.
Apple wouldn’t comment on its decision not to support 600MHz in its new phones.
But it’s worth noting that Apple isn’t the only phone maker to miss out on T-Mobile’s new network, which just started rolling out in parts of the US last month and won’t be fully available to the entire country until 2020. No phones technically support the 600MHz spectrum yet, although T-Mobile has said that phones from Samsung and LG will be supported by the fourth quarter of 2017.
Because the capability to support 600MHz is hardware based, the new iPhones will not be able to get support later on through a software upgrade.
Analysts have predicted that this year’s iPhone 8 and X models will spark a “supercycle” of upgrades for many customers who have neared the end of their multi-year carrier purchase agreements for the iPhone 6 and 6s. If you’re planning on sticking with one of this year’s iPhone models for the next couple of years, check out T-Mobile’s own coverage map predictions for how its 600MHz will be deployed in your area.