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Apple iPhone 7 Rides LTE-A Speed Curve to 450 Mbit/s

Dan Jones
9/7/2016

Apple is more than doubling up on the 4G speed offered on the iPhone 7 over its previous smartphone -- with a claimed maximum speed of 450 Mbit/s -- matching the latest LTE advances of models from rival Samsung.

The announcement of the speed bump for the latest Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) smartphone also helps explain why US carriers have made such a kerfuffle about announcing more LTE-Advanced features on their networks in the past week or so. Verizon Wireless said last week that its LTE network in cities coast to coast could support over 200Mbit/s peak downloads. Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) boasted 230Mbit/s downloads in Chicago. On Monday, meanwhile, T-Mobile US Inc. CTO Neville Ray trumpeted various LTE-Advanced features it has -- or is -- deploying, claiming that the network can support maximum peak speeds of 400 Mbit/s on parts of its network. (See Verizon 4G Is Now 50% Faster in 461 Cities, Sprint Ups the 4G Speed Ante to 230 Mbit/s and T-Mobile's Unlimited Plans Aim at the Big Two.)

So, US carriers will now get to say they are ready for the iPhone 7 models when they hit the streets on September 16. One of the networks upgrades that supports this speed boost is multi-channel carrier aggregation, either known as 2CA or 3CA depending on the number of channels supported. This involves bonding together separate 10MHz tranches of radio spectrum -- at different frequencies, or the same 2.5GHz frequency in Sprint's case -- to boost available bandwidth and speed.

T-Mobile has also started deploying 4x4 MIMO -- smart antenna arrays -- on parts of its network to further boost speeds, as well as more advanced modulation techniques to up the downloads. It is not clear, however, if Apple is supporting any of those particular advances.

Source: Apple
Source: Apple

In fact, Apple doesn't dive in too deep at all in its list of the new iPhone technical specs. It is likely though, that Apple is using a category 9 or 10 LTE modem to get the speed upgrade. Cat. 9 modems already are in the Samsung Galaxy 7 and Edge 7 models, as well as some other units for the South Korean market. (See Is Intel Auditioning for the iPhone 7?)

Most people, of course, are not too focused on this aspect of the iPhone 7. As rumored, Apple has done away with headphone jack on its latest model. You can now listen to music on the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus on $159 wireless AirPods or plugged-in via the Lightning interface.

Other new features include:

  • 12 megapixel sensor back camera (dual camera on the Plus) with an optical stabilizer and a wider aperture lens
  • 7 megapixel front camera
  • Faster A10 Fusion processor
  • Water and dust-resistant casing
  • Improved battery life
  • iOS 10 operating system

    The iPhone 7 will start at $649 for the 32GB model. The phones will be available for pre-order from September 9.

    — Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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    Joe Stanganelli
    Joe Stanganelli
    9/11/2016 | 2:26:50 PM
    Re: Of course, this is maximum speed possible
    Sure -- as well as they should be expected to hate it.  People don't like to be dragged kicking and screaming into new technology -- while obsolescing all the stuff they've already invested in.  (Did Apple learn nothing from public reaction to Microsoft's nagware, GWX.exe?)

    It's a bold move on Apple's part.  We'll see what happens.
    DanJones
    DanJones
    9/9/2016 | 2:43:33 PM
    Re: Of course, this is maximum speed possible
    Man judging by my fb feed people HATE the headphonelessness
    DanJones
    DanJones
    9/8/2016 | 4:33:00 PM
    Re: Speed schmeed
    The big development for Apple is repeat revenue of $156 a pop when you lose the AirBuds, er, sorry, AirPods.
    DanJones
    DanJones
    9/8/2016 | 4:28:58 PM
    Re: Of course, this is maximum speed possible
    Yup. All of that, still you can do a hell of a lot with 100-Mbit/s+
    Joe Stanganelli
    Joe Stanganelli
    9/8/2016 | 4:26:39 PM
    Re: Of course, this is maximum speed possible
    @Dan: And then it all depends upon the carrier, to boot!
    Joe Stanganelli
    Joe Stanganelli
    9/8/2016 | 4:26:09 PM
    Speed schmeed
    The big development for iConsumers, I'm betting, is on the waterproof-ness -- all the speed boasts aside.
    DanJones
    DanJones
    9/8/2016 | 2:26:52 PM
    Of course, this is maximum speed possible
    Bear in mind, you are not going to get anything close to 450-Mbit/s. Maybe 100-Mbit/s-plus. Hopefully we get some speed tests once the iPhone 7 is out.
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