As one of the final steps prior to release of the iPhone 5 it appears that Apple has begun wide scale testing of their latest iPhone at several carriers. This would most likely be one of the final steps prior to release of the iPhone 5.
In addressing a new claim that the next iPhone won’t debut until October, later than the September timeframe that has been the focus for some time now, The Guardian offers some details on the carrier testing process that is said to indeed be underway.
My carrier sources tell me that the boxes in which the new iPhone hardware is encased have been transported to carriers for testing. This is an important step in the release cycle for any phone. … The next iPhones go for their testing inside locked and sealed boxes so that the carriers can carry out checks on their network compatibility in their labs. It’s very high security, as you could guess; my understanding is that barely anyone inside the carriers gets to open those boxes, and even when they do the hardware is encased in a dummy body which means there’s no clue to what the actual phone will do.
The report suggests that with the iPhone 5 now in final carrier testing, a process that should take only weeks, Apple is in prime position to ramp up manufacturing to meet a September launch.
Other sources are also skeptical of the October launch claim, with RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky noting that Apple during its last earnings conference call noted that it would be experiencing a “future product transition” affecting the current quarter, which ends in late September. Abramsky also cites channel checks that continue to point to an August/September build ramp for the new iPhone to meet a September launch, as well as increased retail staffing and vacation blackouts at Apple and its carrier partners for the September timeframe.