Pre-orders for T-Mobile iPhone 5 go live ahead of April 12 launch

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Pre-orders for T-Mobile's version of the iPhone 5 went live early Friday ahead of a rollout next week, finally heralding the introduction of Apple's popular handset to America's fourth-largest wireless carrier.

In line with its announcement last week, T-Mobile has started accepting pre-sale orders for Apple's iPhone 5 after having gone years without official access to the device. The telecom is the last of the "Big Four" U.S. wireless carriers to ink a deal with Apple, though nearly two million "unofficial" iPhones are currently operating on T-Mobile's 3G network.

The iPhone 5's T-Mobile debut lines up with the company's "Uncarrier" campaign, which drops phone subsidies in exchange for lower monthly rates. Under the new plan, a 16-gigabyte iPhone 5 will be sold for a $99 up front fee, with 20 additional monthly payments of $20 covering the remaining cost of the hardware.

When Apple's phone hits store shelves on April 12, T-Mobile subscribers will be able to use the device to access the carrier's new LTE network in seven U.S. markets: Kansas City, Kan., Houston, Tex., Las Vegas, Nev., Phoenix, Ariz., San Jose, Calif., and Washington D.C.

One analyst believes Apple's entrance on T-Mobile will have more of an impact to Apple's bottom line than market watchers speculate, as the carrier is expected to close a merger deal with MetroPCS, growing the number of addressable subscribers from 33 million to 42 million.

T-Mobile first announced it would begin selling Apple products in December of 2012, but at the time did not specify a rollout timeline.