Posted on 2011-8-25
Will 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) support be coming in Apple’s next-generation iPhone and iPad devices? While digging through the files in the recently-released sixth beta of Apple’s upcoming iOS 5 mobile operating system, some enterprising users have found hints that suggest that LTE support may be arriving to Apple’s devices soon.
Many have speculated that the iPhone 5 will launch with LTE support, as there are already a few Android handsets and tablets on the market that support LTE and Apple generally tries to lead and not follow with its new iPhone handsets. With Apple’s two main carrier partners AT&T and Verizon currently rolling out 4G LTE network coverage as fast as possible, users would likely flock to the iPhone 5 in droves if LTE support was an included feature. Verizon’s network is far more complete than AT&T’s, but it’s expected that the two companies will feature similar LTE coverage by next year.
Although the iPhone 5 is all but confirmed to be launching sometime in September or early October, Apple has yet to even confirm the existence of the device. Nothing is known about what the next-generation iPhone handset will deliver in terms of upgraded hardware or features; whether or not LTE had even been considered by Apple was unknown until the discovery of LTE settings in iOS 5 Beta 6.
As for the iPad 3, little is known about the device other than that it is likely to be released sometime in early 2012. With the launch of the next iPad still many months away, it’s almost certain that an LTE-capable version will be offered, as the major North American carriers will have their LTE networks fully rolled out by next spring. Another sign that LTE may be coming to the iPad is the recent speculation that Apple is set to allow its carrier partners to subsidize the cost of the iPad 3, similar to how the iPhone is subsidized. Customers will be considerably more willing to sign a one or two-year LTE data plan contract if they are able to save a few hundred dollars on the purchase price of their new iPad tablet.
Of course, it’s possible that the appearance of LTE settings in the recent iOS beta were simply included to aid Apple and its developer base in their testing. This is a common practice for mobile operating system developers, which generally have numerous prototype handsets in the field being tested at all times.
With Apple CEO Steve Jobs stepping down from his position today, we’re unlikely to hear much more about the iPhone 5, the iPad 3 or the possibility of 4G LTE support for at least a week or two. By then, we’ll be in to September and likely close to Apple’s fall event, where the iPhone 5 is expected to be announced and demoed. Until then, sit tight and keep your fingers crossed that Apple does decide to include support for the incredibly fast 4G LTE networks in the upcoming iPhone 5 handset.