You know that iPhone that millions of consumers want and Sprint spent $20 billion to be able to sell? U.S. Cellular said it passed on the device because it would have cost too much and Apple’s terms were too onerous, according to a report from FierceWireless.
With just 5.62 million subscribers, U.S. Cellular is playing a different ballgame than AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile, as the regional carrier can’t afford the heavy subsidies that come with the iPhone. The exact numbers aren’t known but we’ve heard multiple times that each iPhone is subsidized by about $400 or so to get it to that consumer-friendly $199 or $299. The major carriers are generally able to overcome this upfront cost over the life of the two-year contract.
Instead, U.S. Cellular appears to be leaning heavily on Android phones, including good ones like the Motorola Photon. The thirst for smartphones is still there even on a smaller carrier, as U.S. Cellular said that 40 percent of the devices it sold last quarter were smartphones.