New Networks Hint at an iPhone 5 Timeline
Apple is likely developing a dual-mode Long Term Evolution (LTE) and 3G GSM iPhone for AT&T. Verizon, meanwhile, should get a version that supports LTE but reverts to its 3G CDMA flavor when out of the 4G coverage footprint.
The balancing act for Apple and its U.S. carrier partners is when exactly to launch the two phone variants. So far, we've seen speculation on everything from a standard summer launch to an autumn debut or even pushing off the launch until 2012.
If Apple wants to implement 4G LTE in its next phones, however, a fall date or later seems more likely. In part, this is because AT&T is behind Verizon on its LTE deployment with initial markets slated for launch this summer and up to 75 million people covered by year's end. In contrast, Verizon already covers more than 110 million people with the technology and expects to have LTE in 147 markets by the end of 2011.
Early favors Verizon
An earlier launch for an LTE iPhone might be seen as giving Verizon the upper hand by AT&T. I think Apple is unlikely to want to aggravate its long-standing carrier partner in that way.
Launching both flavors of the iPhone 5 at the same time seems most reasonable. This points to a launch date well beyond this summer. As has been widely reported, phone vendors are also currently working to tweak new LTE devices for performance issues -- such as battery life and Apple is no exception. More time to engineer the device is a good thing.
What could be
I think Apple could go for a dual-core processor upgrade and maybe even a HSPA+ phone -- all wrapped up in a new white shell -- if it wants to release an iPhone 5 this summer, but I doubt you'll see an iPhone 5 that's 4G ready.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile