Sprint’s HD Voice won’t work with iPhone 5

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Full Coverage From Apple's 9/12 iPhone 5 Launch EventApple’s faster, lighter, and thinner, new iPhone 5 was unveiled yesterday. We learned that it supports 4G LTE and it will be released on Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T in the US.

We’re now hearing that there’s bad news for Sprint customers. Despite the fact that Sprint is the first U.S. carrier to embrace HD Voice, a new technology that enables much clearer phone calls over a cellular network, the iPhone 5 will not work with the carrier’s HD Voice service. Sprint spokesperson Michelle Leff Mermelstein told Phone Scoop that the iPhone 5 will not support Sprint’s version of the wideband audio technology. The reason is, of course, quite technical. A majority of carriers use WCDMA networks to improve the quality of speech audio on phones, but Sprint uses CDMA 1x Advanced technology, which isn’t compatible with Apple’s new flagship smartphone. Ever the stickler to streamline its manufacturing processes, Apple is not making a custom version of the iPhone 5 specifically for Sprint.

Out of the 240 carriers that will sell the iPhone 5 worldwide, only 20 of them currently support HD Voice and none of them are in the United States. AT&T and Verizon have no support for wideband audio right now, but it is expected soon.

HD Voice should take off alongside LTE networks and it will drastically increase the quality of call audio, but it’s likely to be 2013 before it sees widespread adoption stateside.