Well, Apple's new iPhone and iOS announcements are now behind us, and many of us were left unimpressed, disappointed, underwhelmed and probably a bit surprised. But that doesn't speak for everyone. There are some people out there who I know are excited: Sprint customers.

Right before exiting the stage, Tim Cook added one little tidbit of information that was sure to please Sprint customers. Being both GSM and CDMA compatible, the iPhone 4S will launch on Sprint's network, along with AT&T and Verizon, on the 14th. Not only that, but it appears as if the iPhone 4, which will soon drop $100 in price, will also arrive on Sprint. The 14th will only prove to be a big day for the Now Network.

Welcome to the party, Hesse and Co.

Just a week ago, Sprint CTO, Stephen Bye, came forward in an interview at the GigaOm Mobilize conference and claimed that the Now Network will be keeping their unlimited data. Both as a differentiating factor and a way to simplify the offerings to their users, Sprint will retain their current plan structure and will not tier data or throttle in the foreseeable future. Bye was drilled with questions about a – then unconfirmed – Sprint iPhone, and he stonewalled the interviewer.

In the interview, Bye did state that Sprint has done "tremendously well" without the iPhone. But now it will be arriving in just 10 days. How consumers and the network will react remain uncertain.

Today's announcements, though they may not see major to you or I, are enormous for Sprint. There are costs involved with keeping unlimited data, and I know it wasn't an easy decision for them to make. It's one that could quickly turn on them, if they're not careful. Not only is it a differentiating factor or a way to simplify their offerings. It's a gambit to scoop up more subscribers as unlimited data becomes less common – a gamble that their network can withstand the beating that their 27.4 million subscribers (as of April 2011), and future additions, can deal.

Unless you are currently grandfathered into an unlimited data plan, the only way to legitimately get an iPhone with unlimited data is to jump ship and switch to Sprint. This could ultimately lead to data hungry buyers flocking to Sprint's doors on the morning of the 14th. An instant surge of new subscribers (or existing postpaid subscribers who are upgrading from a feature or flip phone) could quickly take its toll on the thriving network.

Personally, I don't see that happening – the iPhone 4S is lacking in some pretty key features like WiMAX and a larger display. I figure mostly existing Sprint customers will be picking up their iPhone come October 14. Then again, nothing is outside the realm of possibility at this point.

If you've been following Aaron's tweets and reviews lately, you're likely well aware of the data issues he's been having on multiple Sprint devices (like the Nexus S 4G, EVO 3D, PHOTON 4G, Epic 4G Touch and Marquee). And it's not just him, or the Charlotte metro area. Aaron alone has experienced Sprint data issues in Charlotte, San Francisco, Orlando and NYC (specifically Manhattan). And people all over the web are chiming in about it, too. Aaron and I were talking about this a few hours ago and he added:

"The network is already struggling terribly. It regularly takes me minutes (3-6) to send a tweet on the EpTouch (AKA Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch) on 3G. [Data issues are] not isolated to one geographic area, or one part of the city, so far as I can tell."

Although Sprint may believe they can keep up the pace with iPhones on their network, we may see them follow in the footsteps of those before them. AT&T and Verizon both felt the repercussions of the iPhone on their network. Not long after the iPhone and the ThunderBolt (the first LTE phone) hit Verizon, they switched to a tiered data structure. And I think we all remember how AT&T temporarily halted iPhone sales in New York to save what was left of their tattered network.

The iPhone has always performed exceptionally well amongst strong competition. I have a feeling the iPhone 4S, despite far and wide claims of disappointment, will bring much of the same. But this added stress could bring Sprint's network to its knees.

My guess is that Sprint's endeavors to keep unlimited data alive are futile. As they grow in subscribers and data-mongers, their network will begin to take more of a beating. Just as a precautionary measure, if you're going to get a Sprint iPhone, snag one soon, before unlimited data disappears forever.

What do you guys and gals think? Will the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S take their toll on Sprint's network? Will they be the reason Sprint has to can their unlimited data efforts?

Image via Apple

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36 Reactions to this post

"How long will Sprint's unlimited data last with the iPhone 4S?"

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Terry Oakes
Terry Oakes not long im sure
Ed Plnia
Ed Plnia @Dustin aire data is a LUXURY that's why not we have to pay $10.00 extra to have it. I used to have the HTC evo 4G, then the Nexus 4G, then the Evo 3D and I returned all of them because of the poor data speed. Now I got the SGSII and still have the same problem. I was in new York (low speed) now in Boston (low speed) then where is the 4G from new York to Boston? They got that TV commercial saying that T-Mobile cut the speed after 2GB but at least you can enjoy the speed of the T-Mobile 4G Network. I rather want to have 2GB of real data speed and not unlimited data that doesn't do the job. Is like sending a kid to do a man job
Jason Mason
Jason Mason 3g in wash dc is slow as hell and you have drive a mile just 2 pick up 4g,so unlimited really ain't all that great when your phone is slow and laggy as hell
Chad Allen
Chad Allen I would guess about a year left for true unlimitd if that!
Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson People need to quit complaining about sprint's data speeds....I remember having a phone without a data plan and it was FINE! BTW what are you people doing with your phones that you need 7-8 Mbps? Where I live Sprint gets me roughly 1.5-2 Mbps and that's perfectly fine with me. I am with Sprint because they have the best reception in my area and a phone is a phone first in my book. DATA IS A LUXURY PEOPLE!!!!!!
Mad Strings
Mad Strings @Kevin Joel Does WP have a Siri for it? I ask bc that and a Nokia branding r what stop me from upgrading from my crappy LG Neon (basic messaging phone) to WP. Otherwise, I'll go iPhone, but I'd rather have WP.
Kevin Joel
Kevin Joel IPhone is for noobs. Windows phone people!!!
Darryl Cobb
Darryl Cobb No more than 1 year.
Jimmy Stranahan
Jimmy Stranahan Not long...
Tim Fuhrmann
Tim Fuhrmann With the way data costs are going to skyrocket for carriers, it wouldn't surprise me to see cell phones revert back to just phones again.
Jimmie Draper
Jimmie Draper Week after next
Stephaughn Alston
Stephaughn Alston I just read an article & their already talking about getting rid of it lol.
Kojack Sanders
Kojack Sanders I got a Nexus 4G and a palm pixi with Sprint. I get better coverage with the pixi in my crib. My Tracfone gets better coverage then the Nexus 4G(tracfone uses AT&T),so I'm heading to the better coverage.
Brian Scott
Brian Scott 1 year after they see how much data they see how much they giving out and how much potential dollars they can earn!
Namkell Kelly
Namkell Kelly They won't because that's one of the things keeping them competitive(plus their phones). Im in nyc and their network speeds are decent but not like others
Jonathan Hernandez
Jonathan Hernandez I say 3 or 4 months
Marti Ruiz
Marti Ruiz nothing new in iphone 4 s . o yes only a better camera , voice recognition , same disign
Jonathan Hernandez
Jonathan Hernandez Theres no 4G that's just bull-shyt a crap not even ATT have 4G or t mobile people r so stupid thinking in what they say wen its all a lie is like the government they keep hiding things from us
Ryan Nunes
Ryan Nunes I think since all carriers are going from unlimited to restricted data I might just get rid of my phone altogether. It's ridiculous that all carries are throwing out unlimited data when that's why they have all the customers that they do.
Albert Krems
Albert Krems I have a feeling iPhone5 will be here soon! Maybe around Christmas time
Stuart James Baucum
Stuart James Baucum well since the iPhone 4 and 4S are only 3G, I think sprint will keep them on unlimited data for another decade.
Abram Wenevermet Dennis
Abram Wenevermet Dennis Unlimited dial up you mean..
Alan Ellison
Alan Ellison I've hit plenty of dope 4G spots.. I have an SGS1 (oldschool oc'd) works great since day 1.. (2yrs ago)
Derrico Brown
Derrico Brown @Jordan and @Alex maybe it's your phone. My Evo 4G and Evo 3D both average 7mb down and 1mb upload for the last 10 months. And I got 5/6 bars right now as I type
Alex Lopez
Alex Lopez I have the gs2 with them and their "4g" its just a 3g if that ..I'm just waiting for the nexus prime to come out and I'm going to Verizon even if I have to spend double ..
Derrico Brown
Derrico Brown Its not 4G and they own all their 3G network, so it will probably stay unlimited. And theyll market the heck out of it. Customers can still expect to pay that $10 fee for "smartphones" though.
Emmanuel Ramos
Emmanuel Ramos 1 year and in my area is not slow... Sprint = good quality
Ed Plnia
Ed Plnia You know something? Sprint data suck so I don't see the point of having unlimited data when the service is very slow. I'm using the SGSII with them and everywhere I go my connection suck big time.
Daniel Quintero
Daniel Quintero If they get rid of it I'm going to att
Daniel Quintero
Daniel Quintero 3 months
Mark Fisher Jr.
Mark Fisher Jr. One and a half months.
Reid Harris
Reid Harris It better stay. If Verizon is the #1 carrier, and they had to get rid of it, Sprint is in big trouble...
Daquan Smooky Carter
Daquan Smooky Carter Three months
Ryan Smith
Ryan Smith As soon as they get rid of the unlimited everything...without at cap...im done. The only reason I use sprint is that it is truly unlimited. Period! If that goes- so will I. Im tired of these restrictions and whatnot being given to us the consumer. Frak Sprint if they do that!
Javier Campos
Javier Campos Even longer because its not 4G
Brandon Johnson
Brandon Johnson I'd give them a pretty reasonable number, maybe a year and a half.

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