It doesn't matter that Apple's 'iPhone 8' may not support 4G Gigabit LTE or 5G

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited June 2017
A report claiming Apple's "iPhone 8" won't supporting some next-generation connectivity generated some confusion about the new device's prospects -- but it really won't matter. AppleInsider explains the technology, and why the next crop of iPhones won't be impacted if Apple limits connectivity speed.




Apple not supporting the latest and greatest connectivity and speeds in networking isn't new. The iPhone 3GS shipped when LTE was coming out, and more recently, the Qualcomm modem in some iPhones was limited somewhat so that it and the Intel modem in some devices would perform the same across the board.

Couple Apple's periodic reticence to adopt the new technologies, some practicality hurdles, and the company's licensing battle with Qualcomm, and it actually seems probable that it won't support 4G Gigabit LTE, or 5G in the next batch of iPhones.

5G isn't even close

The so-called "5G" is the next wave of telecommunications coming from the carriers. There are no standards for the technology yet, with research going in a few different directions.

As promised the "5G Standard" demands 100 megabits per second for metropolitan areas, better spectrum efficiency, lower latency, and "tens of megabits" for tens of thousands of users.
How often can you say that you meet peak connectivity requirements now?
While the U.S. has set aside 5G spectrum, there's not much there, yet. There's no delivery technology standard, and Verizon and AT&T are part of the effort in the U.S. with competing efforts to set the standard for the future.

At the earliest, there will be 5G networks available beyond limited testing in the end of 2018. However, wide-spread use of the technology isn't expected until 2020 with deployments stretching well into the next decade. Where we stand today is not all that dissimilar to the initial 4G research a decade ago versus today's deployments.





Qualcomm does supply chips for 5G, but not in any real quantity such as what Apple would need -- yet.

4G Gigabit LTE

Gigabit LTE is the latest evolutionary step in the current 4G wireless standard. In theory, speeds can peak at 1 gigbit per second, but actual delivered speed is significantly less.

The technology needs a few factors to succeed -- 4x4 MIMO, 256QAM, and carrier aggregation.

The first, 4x4 MIMO, is essentially multiple antennae in the same device to pick up a variety of signals. This leads into carrier aggregation allowing for multiple cell signals to be received by the phone. The third factor, 256QAM, implements a different modulation of the wireless signal, allowing for more data to be included per packet in the same amount of airtime.

The first US phone capable of connecting to 4G at Gigabit speeds is the Samsung Galaxy S8.

In the U.S., T-Mobile promised "up to double" non-Gigabit LTE connection speeds in "nearly 300 cities nationwide" when the Samsung Galaxy S8 launched. In actuality, and specified in the very small print on the bottom of the announcement, the speeds are available only in parts of the cities serviced by the technology, as cell tower upgrades to support it aren't trivial.

AT&T and Verizon promise deployments beyond a market or two at some point in 2017.

Practical matters of gigabit internet speeds

Promotional materials from T-Mobile and others promise two-hour movie downloads in 15 seconds. However, it's not that simple.

Fiberoptic internet provides, like Google Fiber, and FiOS Gigabit, can generously simulate 4G Gigabit LTE minus all of the pitfalls of a wireless transmission. Even given ideal circumstances, the test points out a key weakness of user speeds that fast -- possible peak reception is impacted by delivery speed.

Apple and Google servers in the dead of night deliver about 60 megabytes per second (0.48 gigabits per second) at fastest, with Amazon doling out about 65 MB/sec. These numbers drop to around 30 MB/sec during peak times. Other providers and servers are notably slower.




In our tests on a FiOS Gigabit wired connection, Netflix delivered about 30 MB/sec at best during times of low traffic, with Facebook doling out about 20 MB/sec. CNN delivers about 12 megabytes per second, with other top-tier providers falling off from there.

Existing "regular" LTE in a best-case scenario can handle about 30 megabytes per second -- but reception limitations which are more profoundly aggravated when using 4G Gigabyte LTE cut that back realistically to about 8 megabytes per second during peak use times.

Even given a device capable of handling 4G Gigabit LTE with the phone user outside, with line-of-sight to a cell tower, in the limited service areas that support the technology, you still can't utilize the speed that the new technology delivers and remain in acceptable use policies -- today. And, how often can you say that you meet peak connectivity requirements now?

If you're in a more rural area, LTE speeds can only get faster -- but they won't until the carriers make it so.

Well, what about the "iPhone 11?"

We're not saying that 4G Gigabit LTE and 5G aren't important. The improvements to the networks for 4G Gigabit LTE pave the way to 5G, with carrier aggregation and 256QAM needed for all of the implementations so far.

Faster data transfers mean requests are fulfilled quicker, leading to less congested airwaves overall. This doesn't necessarily mean better universal speeds, but it does cut back one source of wireless slowdown in peak traffic times.

In theory, the internet backbone will be enhanced as well to support use of the higher speed, mitigating the delivered speeds from server farms somewhat. But, this is not at all certain, given an assortment of factors ranging from lack of corporate will, or the actual physical ability to do so.

But, none of these things are important this year, or in 2018 -- and probably not until 2020 or later.
patchythepirateabeebie
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 66
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,080member
    Definitely doesn't matter.  I live in the Philly exurbs (barely) and LTE service is better but spotty.  It even drops in more suburban areas at times.  I won't hold my breath on 5G.  
    brucemc
  • Reply 2 of 66
    I know it probably doesn't matter to most of the populations in large metros but for where I live 4G filled in a lot of gaps where there was no coverage due to the extended range it provided. Can I assume 5G will provide even wider coverage? If so that would be again beneficial in some small town USA scenarios.
  • Reply 3 of 66
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 5,006administrator
    I know it probably doesn't matter to most of the populations in large metros but for where I live 4G filled in a lot of gaps where there was no coverage due to the extended range it provided. Can I assume 5G will provide even wider coverage? If so that would be again beneficial in some small town USA scenarios.
    Since there's a couple of competing "standards" at the moment, it's hard to tell right now. That picture will be clearer at some point in 2018.
    tycho_macuser1st
  • Reply 4 of 66
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,105member
    I know it probably doesn't matter to most of the populations in large metros but for where I live 4G filled in a lot of gaps where there was no coverage due to the extended range it provided. Can I assume 5G will provide even wider coverage? If so that would be again beneficial in some small town USA scenarios.
    No, I don't think that is an expectation you should hope for. LTE hasn't offered that extended coverage over 3G/4G. Coverage only depends on the number and location of cellular towers. I'm sure someone will say I'm wrong but the best way to extend coverage along with faster cellular speed is to install more towers. If you live in an area where your line of sight horizon is a couple states away, you'll have better coverage with a more powerful signal but in many areas, including large metropolitan areas, line of sight is at the end of your street or around a corner. I get better coverage by going upstairs, down the street or a couple miles away where I have line of sight to the towers. Many cities are run by old people without any idea how these things operate and they'd rather not install cell towers no matter how much they're made to look like trees or hidden by structures they've already approved. My stupid HOA says I can't install old fashion antennas, only satellite dishes. I have some large trees around my house and would love to hide a cell tower up through the trees but even my forward thinking city council doesn't want to do it. 

    It's my understanding that right now 5G is limited to very short distances. I get 200+Mbps over WiFi in my house on my iPhone 6S. I don't expect to see anything near this speed in the near future and even if I did, I can't see a need for it. So what if I could download a 2 hour movie in 15 secs, I can't watch it that fast!
  • Reply 5 of 66
    Samsung will have the bragging rights "We can do 1Gb. Apple Can't"
    Expect TV adverts all over the place saying this about the time of the phone release.

    It won't matter one bit that the carrier infrastructure nor that the 5G standard is ratified, Apple will lose out. The Phone buying public will see that one phone can do it and the iPhone can't. They'll buy the one that can despite the fact that no one could use it this side of 2020.

    Sorry apple but those are the fact of life. Personally, I don't care but Data speeds are important to quite a few people.

  • Reply 6 of 66
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,302member
    The discussion is a bit confusing at the moment. When did this become about 5G? AFAIK that's not even on the table for a couple more years. 4G Gigabit LTE on the other hand is a real thing, currently available to thousands of mobile handset users, and certainly expected to be more widely available before the 2018 iPhone models are ready to ship. Isn't that what the original news article that AI sourced referring to? While it's not any big deal if it takes a few seconds longer to download some particular file or media saying that it doesn't matter because the tech isn't ready isn't exactly true.

    Perhaps the Qualcomm throttling (if true to begin with) can be reinstituted with a simple software update, but that would might create another issue altogether with the expected Intel modem used in some number of iPhones incapable of utilizing 4G Gigabit no matter what. 
  • Reply 7 of 66
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,129member
    gatorguy said:
    The discussion is a bit confusing at the moment. When did this become about 5G? AFAIK that's not even on the table for a couple more years. 4G Gigabit LTE on the other hand is a real thing, currently available to thousands of mobile handset users, and certainly expected to be more widely available before the 2018 iPhone models are ready to ship. Isn't that what the original news article that AI sourced referring to? While it's not any big deal if it takes a few seconds longer to download some particular file or media saying that it doesn't matter because the tech isn't ready isn't exactly true.

    Perhaps the Qualcomm throttling (if true to begin with) can be reinstituted with a simple software update, but that would might create another issue altogether with the expected Intel modem used in some number of iPhones incapable of utilizing 4G Gigabit no matter what. 
    If you read the article you could have saved yourself lots of time. Given most websites and internet infrastructure can't handle LTE bandwidth, Gigabit LTE makes the largest pipe bigger but the small pipes limit transfer rates. 
    netmagepscooter63
  • Reply 8 of 66
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,982member
    This is essentially what I've been saying for a while now. At this point, it's just marketing. By the time we get "the real thing", the iPhone 8 and 7s models, assuming that's what they call them, will be 3 years old, and counting.

    even so, getting an actual GHz/s download speed will be almost impossible. Wired networks get what you expect, but wireless does not. I get about 910 down and 940 up with my FIOS 940/880 connection. That slightly lower down, and a large amount more going back up. It's pretty good, from Ethernet. But I get less than half over WiFi right next to the primary router. My iPad Pro 12.9 can do better, but WiFi can't. LTE is even worse. The best I've every gotten is about 45MHz/s on my iPhone 7+, no matter where I am.
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 9 of 66
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,302member
    steven n. said:
    gatorguy said:
    The discussion is a bit confusing at the moment. When did this become about 5G? AFAIK that's not even on the table for a couple more years. 4G Gigabit LTE on the other hand is a real thing, currently available to thousands of mobile handset users, and certainly expected to be more widely available before the 2018 iPhone models are ready to ship. Isn't that what the original news article that AI sourced referring to? While it's not any big deal if it takes a few seconds longer to download some particular file or media saying that it doesn't matter because the tech isn't ready isn't exactly true.

    Perhaps the Qualcomm throttling (if true to begin with) can be reinstituted with a simple software update, but that would might create another issue altogether with the expected Intel modem used in some number of iPhones incapable of utilizing 4G Gigabit no matter what. 
    If you read the article you could have saved yourself lots of time. Given most websites and internet infrastructure can't handle LTE bandwidth, Gigabit LTE makes the largest pipe bigger but the small pipes limit transfer rates. 
    I didn't need to rely solely on the AI article as I've done a fair bit of reading as of late. Here's  a discussion of actual usage in Australia where real 4G Gigabit networks are live and available. Save yourself some time and read the article I've linked for you before claiming it can't be done.
    http://cellularinsights.com/telstras-gigabit-class-lte-network-the-work-of-art/
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 10 of 66
    croprcropr Posts: 966member
    It does not matter in most use cases, like it does not matter in most use cases that you have the fastest processor, most RAM or the best graphical performance.

    But there will always cases where it makes a difference (e.g. if you use a smartphone for tethering for a lot of other devices), or new solutions that only become possible because you have 1 GB/s.

    Who said in the past that he could not think of any use case of more than 256 KB of RAM in a PC.   AI also seems to underestimate the human creativity, which always comes up with new ideas once better technology becomes available.  

    tzm41
  • Reply 11 of 66
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,302member
    Samsung will have the bragging rights "We can do 1Gb. Apple Can't"
    Expect TV adverts all over the place saying this about the time of the phone release.

    It won't matter one bit that the carrier infrastructure nor that the 5G standard is ratified, Apple will lose out. The Phone buying public will see that one phone can do it and the iPhone can't. They'll buy the one that can despite the fact that no one could use it this side of 2020.

    Sorry apple but those are the fact of life. Personally, I don't care but Data speeds are important to quite a few people.

    You too are simply another confused reader, which I expected based on the way the AI article was written. This is not about 5G
    netmage
  • Reply 12 of 66
    ajmasajmas Posts: 559member
    Samsung will have the bragging rights "We can do 1Gb. Apple Can't"
    Expect TV adverts all over the place saying this about the time of the phone release.

    It won't matter one bit that the carrier infrastructure nor that the 5G standard is ratified, Apple will lose out. The Phone buying public will see that one phone can do it and the iPhone can't. They'll buy the one that can despite the fact that no one could use it this side of 2020.

    Sorry apple but those are the fact of life. Personally, I don't care but Data speeds are important to quite a few people.

    I would argue that it could also back-fire. If people buy a phone expecting this capability, but few to no networks support it, then it may lead to frustration. Additionally with a small coverage area it may cause support issues, if the support technicians don't identify the calling area when an issue occurs.

    When data speeds matter you'll probably find wifi is what matters, especially in built up areas. In fact, some companies do have a solution where wifi provides a means to faster speeds to their customers. This is even covered by LTE: http://www.3glteinfo.com/csfb-call-flow/ . Just looking up it would appear FON provides partnership with a number of cellphone companies to offer this capability, with a large number of area being supported: https://fon.com/maps/ ;


    edited June 2017
  • Reply 13 of 66
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 5,006administrator
    gatorguy said:
    The discussion is a bit confusing at the moment. When did this become about 5G? AFAIK that's not even on the table for a couple more years. 4G Gigabit LTE on the other hand is a real thing, currently available to thousands of mobile handset users, and certainly expected to be more widely available before the 2018 iPhone models are ready to ship. Isn't that what the original news article that AI sourced referring to? While it's not any big deal if it takes a few seconds longer to download some particular file or media saying that it doesn't matter because the tech isn't ready isn't exactly true.

    Perhaps the Qualcomm throttling (if true to begin with) can be reinstituted with a simple software update, but that would might create another issue altogether with the expected Intel modem used in some number of iPhones incapable of utilizing 4G Gigabit no matter what. 
    When a headline pops up on the CNBC ticker on TV at 8AM, saying that Apple's speed throttling of 4G Gigabit LTE and 5G in the next iPhone is what's causing the stock slide, you'd better believe it's about both.
  • Reply 14 of 66
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,213member
    Of course it doesn't matter, because it's Apple. And AI editorial writers would never criticize anything Apple does (or doesn't do). I'm just waiting for the editorial on how it's totally fine that Apple didn't focus on Siri at WWDC because Siri is miles better than the competition and Apple can skip a year and no one will catch up.
    brucemc
  • Reply 15 of 66
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,302member
    gatorguy said:
    The discussion is a bit confusing at the moment. When did this become about 5G? AFAIK that's not even on the table for a couple more years. 4G Gigabit LTE on the other hand is a real thing, currently available to thousands of mobile handset users, and certainly expected to be more widely available before the 2018 iPhone models are ready to ship. Isn't that what the original news article that AI sourced referring to? While it's not any big deal if it takes a few seconds longer to download some particular file or media saying that it doesn't matter because the tech isn't ready isn't exactly true.

    Perhaps the Qualcomm throttling (if true to begin with) can be reinstituted with a simple software update, but that would might create another issue altogether with the expected Intel modem used in some number of iPhones incapable of utilizing 4G Gigabit no matter what. 
    When a headline pops up on the CNBC ticker on TV at 8AM, saying that Apple's speed throttling of 4G Gigabit LTE and 5G in the next iPhone is what's causing the stock slide, you'd better believe it's about both.
    Well it would actually be impossible for Apple to throttle anything related to 5G even if they wanted/needed to SINCE IT DOESN'T EXIST, so repeating something that's plainly not true simply confuses the issue that is. The article as written invites misunderstandings IMO. 

    Now does that mean I think it's a potential issue for most folks? Just as I intimated earlier, NOPE  it really won't matter for most of 'em at least most of the time, but not for the reasons implied in the AI article. Faster 4G Gigabit LTE will be available and ready to use in a number of larger worldwide markets including many in the US within the next several months and any smartphone utilizing Qualcomm's 835 processor or X16 modem (the 835 has it integrated) will be able to take advantage of an available network. Heck it's live now in some markets. 
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 16 of 66
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 5,006administrator
    gatorguy said:
    gatorguy said:
    The discussion is a bit confusing at the moment. When did this become about 5G? AFAIK that's not even on the table for a couple more years. 4G Gigabit LTE on the other hand is a real thing, currently available to thousands of mobile handset users, and certainly expected to be more widely available before the 2018 iPhone models are ready to ship. Isn't that what the original news article that AI sourced referring to? While it's not any big deal if it takes a few seconds longer to download some particular file or media saying that it doesn't matter because the tech isn't ready isn't exactly true.

    Perhaps the Qualcomm throttling (if true to begin with) can be reinstituted with a simple software update, but that would might create another issue altogether with the expected Intel modem used in some number of iPhones incapable of utilizing 4G Gigabit no matter what. 
    When a headline pops up on the CNBC ticker on TV at 8AM, saying that Apple's speed throttling of 4G Gigabit LTE and 5G in the next iPhone is what's causing the stock slide, you'd better believe it's about both.
    Well it would actually be impossible for Apple to throttle anything related to 5G even if they wanted/needed to SINCE IT DOESN'T EXIST, so repeating something that's plainly not true simply confuses the issue that is. The article as written invites misunderstandings IMO. 

    Now does that mean I think it's a potential issue for most folks? Just as I intimated earlier, NOPE  it really won't matter for most of 'em at least most of the time, but not for the reasons implied in the AI article. Faster 4G Gigabit LTE will be available and ready to use in a number of larger worldwide markets including many in the US within the next several months and any smartphone utilizing Qualcomm's 835 processor or X16 modem (the 835 has it integrated) will be able to take advantage of an available network. Heck it's live now in some markets. 
    I believe we covered the "it doesn't exist" in the U.S. part.
    netmage
  • Reply 17 of 66
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 4,305member
    Isn't this also called 4.5G? MWC 2017 had a lot on that although 5G was where all the discussion was.
  • Reply 18 of 66
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,302member
    gatorguy said:
    gatorguy said:
    The discussion is a bit confusing at the moment. When did this become about 5G? AFAIK that's not even on the table for a couple more years. 4G Gigabit LTE on the other hand is a real thing, currently available to thousands of mobile handset users, and certainly expected to be more widely available before the 2018 iPhone models are ready to ship. Isn't that what the original news article that AI sourced referring to? While it's not any big deal if it takes a few seconds longer to download some particular file or media saying that it doesn't matter because the tech isn't ready isn't exactly true.

    Perhaps the Qualcomm throttling (if true to begin with) can be reinstituted with a simple software update, but that would might create another issue altogether with the expected Intel modem used in some number of iPhones incapable of utilizing 4G Gigabit no matter what. 
    When a headline pops up on the CNBC ticker on TV at 8AM, saying that Apple's speed throttling of 4G Gigabit LTE and 5G in the next iPhone is what's causing the stock slide, you'd better believe it's about both.
    Well it would actually be impossible for Apple to throttle anything related to 5G even if they wanted/needed to SINCE IT DOESN'T EXIST, so repeating something that's plainly not true simply confuses the issue that is. The article as written invites misunderstandings IMO. 

    Now does that mean I think it's a potential issue for most folks? Just as I intimated earlier, NOPE  it really won't matter for most of 'em at least most of the time, but not for the reasons implied in the AI article. Faster 4G Gigabit LTE will be available and ready to use in a number of larger worldwide markets including many in the US within the next several months and any smartphone utilizing Qualcomm's 835 processor or X16 modem (the 835 has it integrated) will be able to take advantage of an available network. Heck it's live now in some markets. 
    I believe we covered the "it doesn't exist" in the U.S. part.
    Neither does the next-gen iPhone or the rumored throttling. Both are just rumors at this point. But by the time the new iPhones start shipping out there will be 4G Gigabit LTE networks here unless the US carriers experience some major disaster this year. 
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 19 of 66
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,129member
    gatorguy said:
    steven n. said:
    gatorguy said:
    The discussion is a bit confusing at the moment. When did this become about 5G? AFAIK that's not even on the table for a couple more years. 4G Gigabit LTE on the other hand is a real thing, currently available to thousands of mobile handset users, and certainly expected to be more widely available before the 2018 iPhone models are ready to ship. Isn't that what the original news article that AI sourced referring to? While it's not any big deal if it takes a few seconds longer to download some particular file or media saying that it doesn't matter because the tech isn't ready isn't exactly true.

    Perhaps the Qualcomm throttling (if true to begin with) can be reinstituted with a simple software update, but that would might create another issue altogether with the expected Intel modem used in some number of iPhones incapable of utilizing 4G Gigabit no matter what. 
    If you read the article you could have saved yourself lots of time. Given most websites and internet infrastructure can't handle LTE bandwidth, Gigabit LTE makes the largest pipe bigger but the small pipes limit transfer rates. 
    I didn't need to rely solely on the AI article as I've done a fair bit of reading as of late. Here's  a discussion of actual usage in Australia where real 4G Gigabit networks are live and available. Save yourself some time and read the article I've linked for you before claiming it can't be done.
    http://cellularinsights.com/telstras-gigabit-class-lte-network-the-work-of-art/
    I never said it can't be done. Read what I wrote. It doesn't really matter in the broadest sense given the primary backbone doesn't support these pipes. Even the docutisement you linked to showed data rates far below gigabit speeds even though they were gushing at the seems. I also question if "everyday" tasks are grander if massive multi gigabyte file using your cell phone. Those are exceptions to the everyday activity. 
    tmay
  • Reply 20 of 66
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 4,305member
    Some extra info on where things are heading now while the wait for 5G goes on.

    http://www.huawei.com/en/news/2017/2/first-announced-comprehensive-test-LTE-TM9-8x2-MIMO
    tzm41
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