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.
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:
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