Rumor: Apple's carrier partners are testing a 4G-capable LTE iPhone

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
A new rumor claims that carriers who support Apple's iPhone are testing a new prototype handset that is capable of connecting to high-speed 4G long-term evolution data networks.



Though there is no indication that Apple's forthcoming fifth-generation iPhone will include LTE compatibility, Boy Genius Report claimed on Monday that Apple's carrier partners are testing an iPhone prototype with LTE. The rumor is evidence that Apple is pursuing support of the high-speed 4G network standard.



The report includes images said to be code from the firmware of an internal iOS test build issued to "one of Apple's major carrier partners." The references to LTE support are included in a property list, or .plist, file.



Specifically, a "key" tag allegedly discovered in the testing code references "Connected mode LTE Intra-frequency Measurement." It offers no indication of what iPhone model might include 4G support.



In the U.S., Verizon's LTE network launched in late 2010 in major markets across the country, while AT&T plans to have a full-fledged 4G network in 15 markets available to 70 million customers by the end of 2011.



Reports have suggested that an LTE-capable iPhone is likely more than a year away, as one recent report claimed that appropriate chips from Qualcomm are not ready for the iPhone's required production levels. Also a concern is battery life with devices running power-hungry 4G antennas.







Commenting on LTE networks in April, Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said his company has been extremely happy with the performance of its 3G handsets, including the iPhone 4, leaving him in no rush to produce an LTE-capable smartphone.



"The first generation of LTE chipsets force a lot of design compromises with the handset, and some of those we are just not willing to make," Cook said.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    The rumor is evidence?



    Seems to be contradictory terms...
  • Reply 2 of 36
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    1) Isn't this about the time each year we hear about carriers testing handsets for the following year's release?



    2) I'd like to see an LTE iPhone this year but I haven't seen any evidence that the chips are small and efficient enough to make it a viable options for an iPhone with a 3.5" display. I'm much more inclined to think Apple will release a true "world mode" device this year if they have the extra room and add LTE next year. However, if we're talking about Apple growing the brand by releasing a ≈4" display iPhone then they may have more room for additional components to make LTE a viable option.
  • Reply 3 of 36
    15 markets, not 15 million.
  • Reply 4 of 36
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    1) Isn't this about the time each year we hear about carriers testing handsets for the following year's release?



    2) I'd like to see an LTE iPhone this year but I haven't seen any evidence that the chips are small and efficient enough to make it a viable options for an iPhone with a 3.5" display. I'm much more inclined to think Apple will release a true "world mode" device this year if they have the extra room and add LTE next year. However, if we're talking about Apple growing the brand by releasing a ≈4" display iPhone then they may have more room for additional components to make LTE a viable option.



    Agreed, I don't think we'll be seeing an LTE iPhone in 2011, given the reports of how bad 4G android handset battery life is I'm not sure we'd even want one.
  • Reply 5 of 36
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post


    Agreed, I don't think we'll be seeing an LTE iPhone in 2011, given the reports of how bad 4G android handset battery life is I'm not sure we'd even want one.



    I can't completely completely rule it out because, 1) it feels like it's about time for Apple to expand the brand which to me means a larger display that could potentially handle such components, 2) this additional 3-4 months of the iPhone 4 seems mostly likely due to a HW delay of the 5th gen. iPhone which could be from securing a certain LTE chip, 3) even AT&T is pushing their LTE adoption up faster than expected even though they haven't done a full rollout of HSPA+.



    How are countries outside the US doing with LTE networks and handsets?
  • Reply 6 of 36
    djintxdjintx Posts: 454member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post


    Agreed, I don't think we'll be seeing an LTE iPhone in 2011, given the reports of how bad 4G android handset battery life is I'm not sure we'd even want one.



    No to mention the LTE network being so sparse currently. A year from now sounds more accurate to me.
  • Reply 7 of 36
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    ... I'd like to see an LTE iPhone this year but I haven't seen any evidence that the chips are small and efficient enough to make it a viable options for an iPhone with a 3.5" display. ....



    Well the chip already exists as you've posted yourself, and it's been released for early testing, and Apple is already testing it if the BGR report is true.



    The only thing we really don't know is if it's capable of being manufactured in quantity at the moment, or at least the quantity that Apple needs.



    They could also announce it in October and not release it for a few more months. The October release date already presupposes a loss of some sales running up to the holiday season anyway.



    Apple will want to be the very first on the market with a good LTE solution, I would expect waiting until even next summer would mean that they wouldn't be able to do that as all the other guys will have the same chip at the same time.



    Whatever the release date is, I would expect Apple to be first out the gate with the new chip.
  • Reply 8 of 36
    stelligentstelligent Posts: 2,680member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post


    Agreed, I don't think we'll be seeing an LTE iPhone in 2011, given the reports of how bad 4G android handset battery life is I'm not sure we'd even want one.



    Agreed. Apple has made it clear more than once that they don't think LTE is ready. Although Apple sometimes speaks out of both sides of their mouths, they generally are not disingenuous in making such statements.



    Apple is quite judicious about when to be early adopters of technology. The fact that they came *late* to the 3G party is good evidence they will also be *latecomers* to the LTE party. And in reality, LTE is not even true 4G.
  • Reply 9 of 36
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I can't completely completely rule it out because, 1) it feels like it's about time for Apple to expand the brand which to me means a larger display that could potentially handle such components, 2) this additional 3-4 months of the iPhone 4 seems mostly likely due to a HW delay of the 5th gen. iPhone which could be from securing a certain LTE chip, 3) even AT&T is pushing their LTE adoption up faster than expected even though they haven't done a full rollout of HSPA+.



    How are countries outside the US doing with LTE networks and handsets?



    Last I heard in the UK they were still dickering over the exact way that bandwidth was going to be auctioned. France was in about the same place. Germany and the Scandi countries are probably ahead, I'm not sure how good their 4G cover is though. The Finns probably have the best, they tend to be ahead on the mobile curve for obvious reasons.



    I think a bigger phone is possible, indeed given that the A5 is bigger than the A4 it may be necessary - I'm just not convinced that LTE is on the cards before 2012.
  • Reply 10 of 36
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DJinTX View Post


    No to mention the LTE network being so sparse currently. A year from now sounds more accurate to me.



    That's a more reasonable assumption based on the fact that most of the world does not have LTE yet. Commercial LTE networks are running in Scandinavia, maybe a couple of other countries, but by no means is LTE widely deployed right now.



    The landscape will be different a year from now.



    The logical progression would be an HSPA+ compatible handset from Apple this year, not LTE.



    I certainly believe there are LTE-equipped Franken-iPhones sitting in a lab in Cupertino. but we won't see one on a store shelf for quite a while.
  • Reply 11 of 36
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    Well the chip already exists as you've posted yourself, and it's been released for early testing, and Apple is already testing it if the BGR report is true.



    The only thing we really don't know is if it's capable of being manufactured in quantity at the moment, or at least the quantity that Apple needs.



    They could also announce it in October and not release it for a few more months. The October release date already presupposes a loss of some sales running up to the holiday season anyway.



    Apple will want to be the very first on the market with a good LTE solution, I would expect waiting until even next summer would mean that they wouldn't be able to do that as all the other guys will have the same chip at the same time.



    Whatever the release date is, I would expect Apple to be first out the gate with the new chip.



    1) I'm not sure if a good LTE solution yet exists. I only suggested that I think a 2012 is most likely, which implies I think it technically exists and, as you say, may not be ready for mass production at this time.



    2) I don't think it's advantageous for Apple to announce the LTE version of the iPhone and then release it months later. Anything after mid-October is an unlikely release date. In fact, anything into October means there is already a delay they are having trouble getting ahead of. With a product that will likely selling a million a week on average over the next year that's not something you want to do going into a holiday shopping season. At that point you announce a mid-cycle release after the new year (which they've done before) or you just wait until the next planned release cycle (which they've done before). Remember, the original iPhone arrived when people expected '3G' and '3G was pretty power efficient according to most of its users, at least in comparison to LTE devices currently on the market.
  • Reply 12 of 36
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post


    Last I heard in the UK they were still dickering over the exact way that bandwidth was going to be auctioned. France was in about the same place. Germany and the Scandi countries are probably ahead, I'm not sure how good their 4G cover is though. The Finns probably have the best, they tend to be ahead on the mobile curve for obvious reasons.



    I think a bigger phone is possible, indeed given that the A5 is bigger than the A4 it may be necessary - I'm just not convinced that LTE is on the cards before 2012.



    And HSPA+ ? which T-Mobile USA and AT&T call '4G' ? is much more important to most of the world right now. The only one that seems to be missing out on considerably faster data by such a phone would be Verizon whose '3G' isn't nearly as future forward as the 3GSM-based networks.
  • Reply 13 of 36
    gwlaw99gwlaw99 Posts: 134member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cvaldes1831 View Post


    That's a more reasonable assumption based on the fact that most of the world does not have LTE yet. Commercial LTE networks are running in Scandinavia, maybe a couple of other countries, but by no means is LTE widely deployed right now.



    The landscape will be different a year from now.



    The logical progression would be an HSPA+ compatible handset from Apple this year, not LTE.



    I certainly believe there are LTE-equipped Franken-iPhones sitting in a lab in Cupertino. but we won't see one on a store shelf for quite a while.



    Verizon has LTE coverage in many cities in the US and will have many more by years end. LTE could certainly explain why the iPhone5 has been delayed.
  • Reply 14 of 36
    motleemotlee Posts: 122member
    "Boy Genius Report claimed"



    That's where I stopped reading...
  • Reply 15 of 36
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,163member
    Apple supposed worked 18 months on the iphone 4 and it was 3g. The notion that they would do the same for a 4g phone is not shocking. In fact I would expect to find out that they worked more like 24 months on it which is why they knew it wasn't ready for a Fall 2011 release. Hell it might not be ready for a Summer/Fall 2012 release. Testing doesn't equal passing after all.
  • Reply 16 of 36
    djintxdjintx Posts: 454member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gwlaw99 View Post


    Verizon has LTE coverage in many cities in the US and will have many more by years end. LTE could certainly explain why the iPhone5 has been delayed.



    It seems to me that Apple will not transition to LTE, until they can do so on both/all US carriers. Having verizon iPhones on LTE and AT&T on 3G would not make sense, in my opinion.
  • Reply 17 of 36
    cvaldes1831cvaldes1831 Posts: 1,832member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gwlaw99 View Post


    Verizon has LTE coverage in many cities in the US and will have many more by years end. LTE could certainly explain why the iPhone5 has been delayed.



    You're missing the point.



    The point is that the rest of the world doesn't have LTE except a handful of markets. Apple sells half of its iPhones internationally.



    They aren't including LTE until most of the world has functional LTE networks. They will include the technology when it will benefit most of the users; otherwise it's a costly and useless addition for the majority. It really doesn't matter how much LTE coverage Verizon Wireless can offer. They are one mobile operator in one market, an important one to be sure, but it still represents a fraction of iPhone users.
  • Reply 18 of 36
    ivladivlad Posts: 735member
    Well I think it's pretty clear that the next iPhone will be called iPhone 4G.
  • Reply 19 of 36
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 42,974member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iVlad View Post


    Well I think it's pretty clear that the next iPhone will be called iPhone 4G.



    I think it's pretty clear that that's abject nonsense.
  • Reply 20 of 36
    The Qualcomm MSM9615 chip is probably in test manufacturing now with TSMC, so its entirely likely Apple got their hands on 100 or so chips and built LTE iPhones around them.



    My question is when would they be released? I don't want to buy an iPhone 5 in October and then have an LTE iPhone debut 8 months later in May or June.
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