Oh, iFaithful, your newest Apple phone(s) are only a day away. Which is even more reason to hunker down into this latest chunk of pre-announcement gossip. According to information obtained by the Wall Street Journal, Sprint's betting the farm on a 30 million-plus order of next-generation iPhones to put it on an even battle ground with heavyweight rivals AT&T and Verizon. The cost of this loss-absorbing gamble? That would be about $20 billion, with the Hesse-led co. subsidizing the $500 cost of each handset. For the third place operator it's matter of do-or-die, as there really isn't an alternative to the critically-praised, Jony Ive-designed handset that set off this smartphone race. Hesse's purported admission to the company's board that customer churn is directly linked to its iPhone omission only serves to underscore the uncomfortable plight his company faces. It remains to be seen if Sprint can convert its base of 52 million subscribers (mostly pre-paid) into the contracted customers it needs to stay financially afloat. While an iPhone on Sprint certainly seems a given, it's unclear whether this next device will opt for a WiMAX or LTE radio.