Sprint Nextel Corp. will purchase 30.5 million iPhone units from Apple Inc. in the next four years in a bet to compete against wireless rivals, according to a new report.

The Wall Street Journal this week reported Sprint would subsidize the cost of each phone at $500 and would likely lose money in the arrangement until 2014.

Sprint is likely to gain access to the iPhone 5, the latest version of the best-selling smartphone, the report added.

Sprint currently holds 52 million subscribers though less than half are non-contract customers.

By comparison, Verizon Wireless holds 106 million subscribers and AT&T Inc. holds 96 million subscribers.

Verizon gained access to the iPhone in Feb. The device previously held as an exclusive device for AT&T.

Apple Inc. Oct. 4 will host an event to announce the next iPhone.

The New York Times in Sept. reported the iPhone 5 will include the A5 dual-core CPU and include an 8MP digital camera.

In addition, A prior report claimed the iPhone 5 will include at least a 4-inch touch-screen display and a thinner profile.

The iPhone utilizes the iOS operating system used in iPod Touch and iPad 2 products.

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