The LTE iPhone

1:25 PM -- There's a bunch of news stories and blog posts floating around about a possible tie-up between Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Verizon Wireless in 2011 -- the theory being that Apple will end its exclusive iPhone deal with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and introduce a Long Term Evolution (LTE) version of the handset with Verizon.

Sounds good. I can see one slight hitch, however: It is not clear to me that the chip technology will be there for Apple to introduce a really sleek design for the proto-4G technology.

Here's why: LTE chips for phones will start sampling later this year. Initial designs will have a separate modem and silicon baseband, making them large and power-hungry. It typically takes about 18 months to design and launch phones around a new technology. (See LTE Phones Will Lag Behind Networks .)

Even assuming that there are no chip delays, a 2011 release date puts Apple right on the leading edge of LTE smartphone introductions. This seems unlikely to me: Apple could have easily gone 3G with the original iPhone but chose the older EDGE standard while rethinking the phone interface instead. I suspect that Apple will wait until LTE is little more established as a wireless broadband technology.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

dannychung 12/5/2012 | 4:00:24 PM
re: The LTE iPhone

Separate 1st generation chips is 1 big issue, but the bigger issue is that LTE is only for IP data.  The iPhone is  marginal in its voice performance as it is, much less having to deal with too much latency and bad QoS implementation in a new air interface.  Any what happens when you leave LTE coverage?  The iPhone falls back onto Verizon CDMA?  A LTE + CDMA chipset solution?  Don't hold your breath, unless Qualcomm partnered with Apple and has been working in super stealth mode... pretty unlikely

Really, there's no way that Verizon/Sprint will ever see an iPhone.  Apple has very little incentive to put CDMA into their iPhone.  All the effort and testing to put in a whole new chipset for how many customers???  The handful of customers who won't switch from Verizon to ATT?  They didn't want an iPhone that bad anyway so why would they switch?  There's a much bigger market for iPhones in the enterprise market.  Steal away some of those corporat Blackberry users.  This only requires software development and testing.

No way LTE will make it into a iPhone until 2012/2013 at the earliest when dual/tri band LTE/GSM/3G chipsets come out. By then, there may actually be decent LTE coverage by Verizon in only the biggest cities and ATT will just start rolling out their LTE networks.

Now what about a WiMAX/GSM/3G chipset?  HTC released a smartphone a few months ago thats for sale in Russia.  That I could see shrinking down soon to fit into an iPhone... but would Apple pick up on WiMAX?  Probably not, but it's more likely than them picking up LTE any time soon...

telepro2009 12/5/2012 | 4:00:22 PM
re: The LTE iPhone

Quite aggree with dannychung. Quite professional comment.

It is highly anticipated by the industry that LTE will be a data-only service initially, i.e. from the deployment start 2010 to around 2012. Beyond 2012, voice over LTE feature would be mature enough for commercial application, which is inter-workable with legacy networks, e.g. the Verizon cdma or the ATT GSM/WCDMA. Till then, a slim and fashionable handset like iPhone will come to existence to make the sense.


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