Rumors of an LTE iPhone (Again)
1:10 PM -- An Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone using Long-Term Evolution (LTE) coming on the market in 2010 is one of those rumors that just won't die. The latest twist is speculation that Verizon Wireless is already testing an Apple LTE iPhone on its two initial network test sites.
Let's unpack this rumor a little bit, shall we? Firstly, it is certainly possible that Verizon has an Apple unit for test on its network. That doesn't mean that any kind of commercial LTE device will be launched in 2010.
Secondly, there's still a distinct lack of LTE chipsets for phones at the moment. Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) has started sampling multi-mode 3G and LTE chipsets. It is expecting to see commercial launches using its silicon in the second half of 2010. Infineon Technologies AG (NYSE/Frankfurt: IFX) and Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) have just teamed up to work on LTE silicon. (See Clearwire Goes South of the Border.)
Most silicon-savvy analysts aren't expecting handsets that support the mobile broadband technology to be available on the mass market before 2011 at the earliest. (See LTE Phones Will Lag Behind Networks .)
Information Gatekeepers Inc. (IGI) recently predicted that LTE data cards will arrive in 2010, mobile Internet devices in 2011, and "voice-centric" handsets in 2012. Most LTE phones will likely use 2G or 3G networks for voice services for years to come. (See An LTE iPhone? Think 2012 (or Later).)
If Apple is to be among the first wave of vendors launching an LTE device, I would expect a data-centric device, quite possibly using a new form factor, rather than just a new version of the iPhone.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung