What to expect from Apple's iPhone announcement

Phil Goldstein
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook is expected to unveil the company's new iPhone at 1 p.m. Eastern Time today at the company's headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. That much is essentially guaranteed. After that, it's tough to say with much certainty what exactly will transpire. However, there are several strong indication of what the announcement is likely to include.

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) will most likely become the third U.S. carrier to launch the iPhone, and a report in the Wall Street Journal Monday said the nation's No. 3 carrier has ordered a total of 30.5 million iPhones over the next four years for a total commitment of $20 billion. That news sent Sprint's share tumbling 10 percent. A launch by Sprint could help the carrier compete with its larger competitors, Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T).

Will the device have support for LTE networks? Again, no one knows with certainty, but the Journal also reported that the new device will not support LTE or WiMAX, and will instead support GSM and CDMA networks. Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo essentially said as much in May when he noted at an investor conference that Verizon would launch the next iPhone at the same time as AT&T, and that the Verizon version of the next iPhone will work in the same number of countries as AT&T's version.  

The new iPhone is also expected to take advantage of speech recognition technology Apple acquired from startup Siri last year. That would help put the iPhone on par with Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform, which currently offers a variety of speech-based functions.

Other things to watch out for include whether the new iPhone will support Near Field Communications technology to enable mobile payments, as well as whether former Apple CEO Steve Jobs will make an appearance. Additionally, there has been rampant speculation, which will be quieted once and for all, over whether Apple will introduce a cheaper or prepaid model of the iPhone. 

Fierce will cover the launch of the next iPhone here. Check back regularly for updates. --Phil

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