The LTE iPhone

5:00 PM -- Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s launch of a 3G CDMA iPhone today for Verizon Wireless has made the vendor's life more complicated when it comes time to launch an LTE version of the cult phone.

Apple will now be under pressure to deliver an LTE-compatible phone for both AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon sooner rather than later. That was obvious even from repeated questions about LTE at the press conference launch of the CDMA iPhone today.

Apple basically has three options:

  • Deliver an all-in-one phone that runs CDMA, GSM and LTE sometime this year. The phone would need to support the older technology to allow voice calls on the carrier networks. Battery life is likely to be an issue.
  • Make two separate models in 2011 that support GSM/LTE and CDMA/LTE respectively. The carriers might dig this option as it pretty much keeps subscribers locked to their respective 3G networks.
  • Wait for voice-over-LTE support and make an LTE-only phone that could -- in theory -- run over both AT&T and Verizon's 700MHz LTE footprints. This would likely mean an LTE launch for the iPhone in 2012 or maybe even 2013

The last option is by far the most interesting for the user, since it might mean that Apple could open up a little bit and allow its users to pick and chose between carriers. The LTE-only option would require, however, that Apple waits for a sizeable LTE footprint to be deployed in the U.S.

With LTE Android phones now due in months rather than years will Apple wait that long?

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

Curious Cat 12/5/2012 | 5:15:35 PM
re: The LTE iPhone

The likely course of things is this: first, any chipset supplier (e.g. Qualcomm) needs to release a capable chipset, which will not happen for just one operator alone.

Also, if we leave the US (because it's a GLOBAL system in the end), we'll find that LTE will be deployed in several frequencies (2.6, 1.8 and 0.7 GHz, to name the most important) and any PHONE would need the GSM part for voice at least until 2015 (and most probably longer). The "dual radio" plan is not yet confirmed by ANY major handset vendor, so LTE will most likely be accessible only for USB dongles, in the beginning.

Sorry, Steve (Jobs)!

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:15:34 PM
re: The LTE iPhone

Per: "The "dual radio" plan is not yet confirmed by ANY major handset vendor, so LTE will most likely be accessible only for USB dongles, in the beginning."

Verizon had dual-mode CDMA & LTE phones at CES. Supposed to be out mid-year or earlier.

malcolm111 12/5/2012 | 5:15:25 PM
re: The LTE iPhone

I have read that the specific frequencies or "classes" (are those the same?) of LTE will be different in the deployments from AT&T and Verizon.  This is at least the case in their current USB modem offerings.  If that's true, can that variation be addressed in the LTE radio hardware, or is the second scenario of incompatible devices between carriers more likely? 

Also, does anyone think HSPA+ will be supported in a next-gen IPhone?

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