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5 iPhone 5 Features Carriers Should Care About

Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) is holding a big media event Wednesday and if, as expected, the iPhone 5 is among the new products being unveiled, there are several features to which the wireless operators should be paying special attention.

The teardown specialists at Light Reading sister company UBM TechInsights have a good track record of predicting what will be inside mobile devices. Their expertise, coupled with a steady stream of rumors, reports and "sources familiar with the matter" give us a good idea of what to expect from the event. (See iPad Mini: Wi-Fi Only & Camera-Free?)

Here's a few of the features we anticipate will be in the iPhone 5 and, more importantly, why the U.S. wireless operators should be prepared for them.

1) LTE support
Many were disappointed when the iPhone 4S lacked 4G network connectivity last year, but the next iPhone is unlikely to fail on this front. For the wireless operators, the inclusion of 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) is table stakes. To date, they have had a hard time convincing consumers they need the faster network connectivity, especially when the previous iPhone didn't support it. The iPhone 5 could be the best publicity for their new networks yet. (See Here Comes the 4G iPhone .)

This will be especially important for AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), which trail significantly behind Verizon Wireless in both coverage and handset line-up. (See 4G: Marketing the iPhone & Other Matters.)

TechInsights Technical Research Manager and teardown specialist Allan Yogasingam believes the iPhone 5 will include an LTE chip, as well as support for all the major 3G bands in the U.S. He predicts Apple will launch an iPhone for all four wireless operators in the U.S., including T-Mobile US Inc. , which has so far been left out of the iPhone game and which won't have an LTE network to speak of until 2013. (See Verizon CFO Is a Tease on iPhone Timing, Sprint, the LTE iPhone & 4G Plans and Qualcomm Not Holding Up LTE iPhone.)

"It will be a multi-carrier cell phone to maximize the profit," Yogasingam says. "I would be shocked if [Apple doesn't support] all four."

Don't expect that to mean the iPhone will hop between the different providers' networks, however. Local roaming is a business issue, not a technology one, so even if the phone supports it, the wireless operators here likely won't. Global roaming, on the other hand, will most likely be enabled, as it was on the iPhone 4S. (See Will the iPhone 5 Be a North American Roamer? and Qualcomm: Multi-Band Chips Will Take LTE Global .)

2) NFC
A lot of vendors are starting to bake Near-Field Communications (NFC) into their handsets, and Apple will most likely be another one. The contactless technology hasn't yet caught on in the U.S., but having more handsets equipped with NFC will help accelerate the market for it. (See Apple Could Make Mobile Payments AuthenTec.)

Should Apple include NFC capability in its iPhone 5, this would likely raise awareness of mobile payments and of NFC in general, but the wireless operators may not look favorably upon it. That's because, with the exception of Sprint, the Tier 1 providers are pushing their own Isis initiative. It's been slow getting started, but the group is planning a debut this month. (See Mobile Money: What's the End Game? , Mobile Commerce Sidesteps the Carriers and Isis Signs Up 50+ Merchants.)

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gconnery 12/5/2012 | 5:21:18 PM
re: 5 iPhone 5 Features Carriers Should Care About

Facile analysis.  Since you claim to be using your "tear down specialists" to do this analysis you're going to have to do better.


If you believe the rumors and case design releases and so forth, which you seem to because you're basing your article on them, then you know that the back is apparently mostly metal with a small glass window at the top and bottom.  If true, guess what, it isn't possible to implement NFC.  This was widely debunked by AnandTech in the last few weeks.  Seriously, pay attention.


And if you really have teardown specialists then you wouldn't be speculating there will be "some LTE chip" in the next iPhone.  Rather you'd be speculating WHICH ONE.  Again, AnandTech has a good guess, the Qualcomm's MDM9x15.  And can detail at some length why that might be.


Or lets talk about the "Quad Core" prediction.  Again, AnandTech, doing a decent job analyzing the past tic/toc behavior of Apple with respect to the SoC in their iPads and iPhones over the years is predicting a minor speed bump in a dual core A5X.  NOT a quad core.  Which people are predicting for no apparent reason.


Look, you could be right on any of these things, but I doubt it.  And by not giving any justification and acting all informed you just end up looking stupid.

shygye75 12/5/2012 | 5:21:18 PM
re: 5 iPhone 5 Features Carriers Should Care About

"If the battery life is sub par, consumers are apt to place the blame on [the service provider] rather than the iPhone maker."


I understand that Apple is mostly above criticism, but will iPhone users really hold service providers accountable for poor battery performance?

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:21:17 PM
re: 5 iPhone 5 Features Carriers Should Care About

A lot of the battery-intensive apps, like video streaming, also use the network, so consumers may assume the LTE network is burning up their battery life, which it is, to some extent.

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:21:17 PM
re: 5 iPhone 5 Features Carriers Should Care About

This wasn't supposed to go deep into the iPhone 5 components, just spell out what the operators should be prepared for. TechInsights will have a thorough teardown analysis of the phone once they get their hands on it though.


And, if there's not NFC on the iphone 5, the operators should care about that too. More time to push their own service, but also less awareness for the tech, most likely.

shygye75 12/5/2012 | 5:21:16 PM
re: 5 iPhone 5 Features Carriers Should Care About

These are probably the same people who blame the weather bunny when it rains. I thought iPhone users were smarter than that. I wonder if SUV drivers blame Exxon when they get their lower gas mileage.

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:21:16 PM
re: 5 iPhone 5 Features Carriers Should Care About

Right, but those same apps, or just web browsing, on 3G would use less battery than they would on 4G. And, LTE speeds encourage consumers to use more of them than they did on 3G too. It's all linked, so the average consumer may not know. They'd rather believe it's the network's fault than their precious iPhone's.

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:21:16 PM
re: 5 iPhone 5 Features Carriers Should Care About

Right, but those same apps, or just web browsing, on 3G would use less battery than they would on 4G. And, LTE speeds encourage consumers to use more of them than they did on 3G too. It's all linked, so the average consumer may not know. They'd rather believe it's the network's fault than their precious iPhone's.

shygye75 12/5/2012 | 5:21:16 PM
re: 5 iPhone 5 Features Carriers Should Care About

The network is burning up battery life? Really? It's not, like, the application that's causing the drain? Or the device bells 'n' whistles?

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