iPhone 5 reportedly does not support simultaneous voice and LTE data, or any at all on Verizon and Sprint

Yesterday after the Apple event, we received a tip saying the iPhone 5 wouldn't be able to do simultaneous voice and data over LTE, which mean Verizon and Sprint wouldn't be able to do voice and data at the same time at all, and AT&T and other GSM carriers would have to drop data down to HSPA in order to do it. It sounded strange to us, because almost every other LTE phone launched to date has been able to do simultaneous voice/data. Here's how it was explained to us:

iPhone 5 will not support simultaneous LTE data and voice on any carrier, and cannot possibly support SVDO on CDMA carriers.

So on AT&T, iPhone will fall back to HSPA+ while on a phone call.  On Verizon/Sprint, there will be no data while on a phone call (while every other CDMA/LTE smartphone does support LTE data while on a phone call).

The only thing we could think of is that Apple made a deliberate decision to optimize for battery life by using a single connection on the radio The editors here at Mobile Nations spent some time batting it back and forth and, frankly, hoped it was a mistake.

Turns out it might not have been. The Verge has received the following statement from Verizon:

The iPhone 5 was designed to allow customers to place a voice call on the Verizon Wireless network, while letting customers access the Internet over the WiFi

And just as described above, AT&T will only be able to do it over HSPA. How fast the iPhone 5 will be able to fall back onto HSPA and then return to LTE as you make calls is the X-factor here. On early Android phones, LTE handoffs were abysmal. With the new iPad, they haven't been bad at all. But: no voice going on.

If this does indeed turn out to be true, will it change which carrier you choose to go with for the iPhone 5? You know the next generation AT&T commercials are just warming up for it...

Thanks Matt!

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

More Posts

 

3
loading...
0
loading...
67
loading...
0
loading...

← Previously

16GB, 32GB, or 64GB: Which iPhone 5 storage size should you get?

Next up →

iMore show 312: iPhone 5 event analysis

Reader comments

iPhone 5 reportedly does not support simultaneous voice and LTE data, or any at all on Verizon and Sprint

68 Comments
Sort by Rating

Hard to believe. I love Apple and the iPhone. I this ability on AT&T with my 3GS, but hated the dropped calls. Love Verizon voice, but hate not being able to do voice / data at the same time on my 4S. This is becoming more of an issue as I use SIRI and apps more and more. I have gotten used to waiting a few heartbeats after a phone call before I fire up SIRI or it misbehaves. Wonder if this will have an effect on SIRI / maps turn by turn when a phone call comes in?

You don't really want to talk on the phone and have navigation at the same time, do you?? ;)

Fortunately, you CAN have it all. Verizon network coverage and simultaneous voice and 3G or 4G data. The Rezound (a Verizon phone) can do this. And it's even world capable. My understanding is that the Samsung Galaxy S3 can also do this, though I *think* it is not world capable (if that matters to you).

And, from what I've heard, Google Now (which is available on either of those phones) does way more than Siri.

And, of course, you would have free Google Navigation...

This is deeply disappointing, and torpedoes any plans I had to move to Verizon. How does the battery life justification hold -- isn't it just about as expensive to maintain an LTE and an HSPA connection as it is to maintain a dual LTE connection?

I think this probably had something to do with their LTE chip that they made because it wouldnt make sense why other phones can do it and they can not.

Are they only using one chip? Typically wireless phones have one chip for voice and one for data.

Personally, I use voice and data at the same time through out the week and this is a huge negative in my book. Looks like Apple tried to slide this one by the consumer.

Rene, can you confirm if this a choice made by Verizon to not support it or a result of Apple's engineering?

According to this NY Times entry:

"The explanation for this, it turns out, is complicated. The technology in 4G LTE networks does not currently handle voice transmissions; it only does data. So when you place a phone call on a 4G LTE smartphone, it’s actually rolling back to the carrier’s older second- or third-generation network, according to AnandTech, a Web publication that does deep analysis on hardware."

Apparently the Galaxy S3 gets around this by adding a second antenna that gets activated in these situations, something which Apple chose not to add.

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/13/iphone-5-calls-data/

Only partially correct. On Verizon, there are three different ways to have simultaneous voice and data. If it's an LTE phone and has both LTE and CDMA antennas, data goes over LTE and voice over CDMA/1x. If it's a 3G phone and supports SVDO, it can do it. If you're on wifi, you can talk and surf. The Thunderbolt was the first to support SVDO, so it could do it without LTE. So, every LTE phone on Verizon can do it, until the iphone. Way to take a step backwards there, Apple.

My understanding was that the Thunderbolt used one chip for CDMA 1x and the other for CDMA EVDO AND LTE. Subsquent phones used one chip for LTE and one for CDMA 1x and EVDO which is why the Thunderbolt was able to surf and talk EVEN on 3G and newer LTE phones were not.

Wow. If this turns out to be true, it is really disappointing. It is a pretty major tradeoff, extra battery life for no simultaneous voice/data. As I'm on ATT, i'd actually rather have it place calls over 3g and keep my data on 4g, not the other way around, especially because there wouldn't have to be any handoff from HSPA+ to LTE after a call, but also because fast data is a great thing to have during a call. But for Verizon and Sprint, that might be a deal breaker for some people.

It sounds like Apple needs to hire away some engineers from Qualcomm. The Snapdragon chip in many Android phones can do SVDO (on CDMA networks) and voice while data over LTE. The chip also supports a feature on CDMA networks called eHRPD which allow smooth transition between EVDO data and LTE data connections. Of course the phones need something like four antennas to make this all happen (antennas for wifi, gps, lte, 3g... oh and one for NFC).

I suspect the next iPhone will have this all sorted out. It will just take another year. If you have a 4S on AT&T (in our out of contract) just hold out for the next iPhone. The HDPA+ network is decently fast for a phone.

Yes it is a turnoff. If Verizon suffers a loss of subscribers, perhaps they will make a push for VoLTE so that they can use the LTE for voice and data and not worry about this?

i really don't understand this.. why is this such a big deal to people. i've never nor has anyone i know ever had the NEED to use their phones for talking and surfing the web at the same time. I have worked for verizon wireless for 4 years and have never had anyone come in and say "man this is a deal breaker im going to at&t cause they have this feature".. lol This is not a real need and quite frankly I personally think its kind of rude if i'm having a conversation with someone and their off doing something else. Anyway, this was never an issue before with blackberries or early iphone and early android devices. why all of a sudden is this such a big deal with people. ridiculous..

A number of us tether and get calls at the same time - which was why I left VZW after 10 years . I liked VZW, and was to the point where they'd send me free phones whenever the new ones from Palm came out; but to some the lack of voice / data was a killer.

Ever hear of Bluetooth? I personally use simultaneous voice/data almost daily with my Rezound on Verizon. Cloud storage from Google/Dropbox/Microsoft have been a blessing in my business & simultaneous voice/data really helps too.

With my job, I have to activate equipment and it is done with the technician in the phone and I have to have an active internet connection ... so for me it is pretty much a deal breaker.

Why has no one considered a regular voice and data combination- a phone call while using maps/gps?! I do this regularly and I imagine others do as well...

I always thought this feature was over-rated...until I bought a Rezound. Now I refuse to give it up.

Talk about yourself, I use Data while on Phone calls, I've Unlimited Calling plan, So I call friends, connect the EarPods to use it for the call and then I surf the Internet the same time I talk. I live in Qatar, Thanks god we only have GSM carriers no CDMA so I will be able to get Data over HSPA+ but that's disappointing as I really wished to experience full LTE speeds 24/7.

What a bad stance to take. I have had a thunderbolt since it was out and the main reason for putting up with the terrible battery life was having the ability to use Voice and Data at the same time. I use this feature every week and not having it is making me want to cancel my order for the iPhone and pick up a SG3.

I was at Sprint Corp store today and asked this question about LTE with iPhone 5 and talking and internet at the same time through LTE. The Manager told me, from her understanding it would be like Wimax, where you could do both. Until Sprint comes out and says this won't work, or we get the iPhone 5 and try it out ourselves, I will reserve judgement.

Yup, bc NOBODY wants faster data speeds while they ARE NOT on a call (which is most of the time these days). SMH, seems like the iPhone5 has brought out quite a few rocket scientists on forums/comments since they announced it.
----Please try to think before you hit that "submit comment" button, we will all be better off for it.

Fixed that for ya buddy. Only thing is that mine was a typing error, as it was supposed to be a period & not a closed parenthesis. And I wasn't insulting the grammar skills, just the overall brain power of the OP. That being said....I appreciate you pointing that out, & yes, I am an asshole.
---I'm not sure if you meant plural or single so I won't jump to conclusions, so I'm just gonna throw this out there---->
PARENTHESIS is the singular form
PARENTHESES is the plural form

Wow, you really said that.....twice. Do you also say "swag" while walking around with your oversized Beats headphones on your neck instead of your ears??? Have a good 1 dude.

So my meager HTC Rezound, can not only do this over 3G on Verizon (one of only 2 phones that can), but also over LTE as well when I connect to it. Yet Apple couldn't figure this out? Oh & I get on average 7-8 hrs battery logged per charge using the standard battery & nearly 2 days worth on the extended. So I'm not buying that as the issue.

It's at least 3 now. The HTC Thunderbolt, the Rezound, and to my understanding, the Samsung Galaxy S3 all have SVDO. I.e. they can all do simultaneous voice and 3G or 4G data.

Boy, that iPhone 5 sure is innovative! The Thunderbolt has been out for a year and a half and the NEXT iPhone might be able to do what the Thunderbolt can. Maybe.

I wasn't aware the SGSIII had that capability too. This really is a poor decision on the part of Apple if so. My Rezound is a far superior device than what Apple announced yesterday. Looks like I'm sticking with Android.

I also have a Rezound and there is no way I would give up so much functionality to have any iPhone. I actually use the simultaneous voice and 3G data. And, even occasionally the world capability. And with the latest ICS Global RUU, my battery is now lasting about 2 days on a charge. Yes, the stock, slim battery.

I forced my Rezound to 3G only and tried made a call and tried to surf and it went into offline mode. I don't think that is correct. Only the Thunderbolt supports voice and data over 3G and it is because EVDO is on a separate chip from 1x.

News flash; the Rezound uses separate chips for EVDO & CDMA just like the Thunderbolt. It's always done simultaneous voice/data over 3G. There is no need to force the CDMA radio. If you are in a LTE area by forcing the phone to CDMA you deactivate the EVDO anyway.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTC_Rezound

I generally shy away from Wikipedia as a source, but the listing of the Rezound circuitry is spot on. Give it a look.

Thank you. I had no idea that my Rezound can use voice and data over 3G. I thought the Thunderbolt was the only one. Whoah!

While I agree this is a bummer since I thought that was another huge plus on Verizon LTE, how often does this really occur? I honestly need to use data while on a call next to never. Do you guys really use it all the time??

Not all the time, but the times you miss it, you miss it. For example, I semi-frequently find myself talking to somebody on the phone and needing to check a shared calendar or reserve something...without simultaneous voice and data, you have to hang up to do that, and call back. Or, on a lesser note, my mother and I play Words with Friends while talking to each other several times a week. It may not be the end of the world to lose these things, but it is certainly an irritation, and for those of us who have grown used to it, it would be a pretty big step back.

Exactly. I do this on a pretty regular basis. I have never really had this feature (on Sprint since forever) but I thought LTE was going to address this.

I use it all the time. While I drive, Waze is pulling down up-to-date traffic information. A call comes in and I answer via Bluetooth. I still want to glance over and see if by drive time is impacted by an accident.

Simultaneous voice and data is important enough for AT&T to spend a ton of money advertising the feature over Verizon a year ago.

I use this feature all the time and was going to switch to Verizon, but if this is true, I would stay with AT&T. This makes the decision much more difficult. Verizon definitely has a better network, but simultaneous voice and data is huge for me.

Same here... Was all set to,ditch AT&T for vzw - paying ETF and all... But this throws a wrench in the spokes... I'll have to stick with AT&T... But I may pre-order an unlocked one if available.... Otherwise I'm looking at the partial upgrade price (subsidized + $250)... Ughhh!!! Why Apple??!! If only vzw had VoLTE...

OK.....LTE (LONG TERM EVOLUTION) DOES..NOT...CARRY...VOICE...EVER. It is for steaming. So no matter where you are or your coverage, you cannot place a call over LTE. WHICH MEANS UNLESS YOU WALK AROUND WATCHING MOVIES OR BROWSING LTE IS NOT ALL THAT.

True, but will it take over the existing voice transports completely? I just found an article from Verizon that states the minimum signal strength for LTE is -58dBm. For CDMA, the signal strength only needs to be -95dBm. I believe CDMA 1x can go even lower. CDMA is a much narrower signal and therefore doesn't need as much strength. LTE uses some sort of multi-signal approach so maybe it knocks it down to a single carrier for VoLTE. That makes the most sense, but then what would the signal need to be a for a good VoLTE connection? CDMA's performance is pretty darn good!

EDIT... I just found references to LTE goes way down to -110 or better. It gets slow at that level, but for voice it doesn't matter. It easily beats out HSPA and is in line with CDMA (or even 1x). That gives me more confidence that VoLTE really could push out the older tech. It would be nice to live in an all IP world. :)

Ever had LTE on Verizon? Yep, it most definitely IS all that. Ever host a webex meeting from your phone while not on wifi? No? I have, on a Samsung Galaxy S3 while riding down the highway with a coworker. Voice and data. No excuse for Apple on this. What is touted here all the time - that quote from Ives about function first? bullshit. they didn't put in the dual radios to make it the slimmest phone on the market. And that will last all of 3 months, so bad decision there from Apple.

NY Times reporting Apple told them its an antenna thing. Not enough antennas built into the phone to use CDMA and LTE at the same time.

Right. Or any voice on any provider and LTE. The difference on GSM is that if you are in an AT&T LTE spot, a call comes in, you will switch to 3G speed, which HSPA allows for voice and data. So it isn't a chip thing, it is, as kch states, an antenna thing. I doubt the iPhone in 2013 will do this either, likely looking at the 2014 model when VoLTE is out.

On the flip side? You can use FaceTime, Skype, bobsled or vonage and achieve this. I have done on my iPhone 4 over Verizon 3G for when I MUST have both (webex conference calls) and it has been acceptable if I don't have too much talking to do. I assume LTE speeds will greatly improve this.

Yet another reason to wait for the iPhone "5S". This is definitely a mistake on apple's part. Verizon currently has devices that do voice and data at the same time. Why wouldn't they want it on their iPhone? Who wants to bet this will be the new exciting and innovative feature for the "5S"?

I can understand the anger but when Verizon starts allowing VoLTE, as long as you are in an area covered in 4G, it would be possible to talk and surf at the same time.

I NEED an iPhone 5 in black (with a yellow case) to match my detonator yellow and black jeep! I even have Nikes in yellow and black to match. An iPhone would be the perfect accessory!

looks like someone needs to develop an antenna or a different radio so we can open up our iphone 5, mod the shit out of it, and make voice and data possible (:

I honestly think that this is Apple's way of industry revolutionizing. This will seriously push Verizon to adopt VoLTE as soon as possible.

No. Apple might have just handed the carriers cash to upgrade to VoLTE. This is a huge problem with Apple's new phone.

So can it support voice and date over regular 3G like my iPhone 4? That would be a really big step back if it can't.

Here's a topic no one has brought up yet. What bout iMessaging while on the phone with VZW? I currently have AT&T and was planning to switch to VZW. This is throwing my decision off! I use voice and data at the same time pretty frequently. So just to make sure I am understanding...we will not be able to send or receive iMessages while on a voice call with the iphone 5 on Verizon???

But I like the blue ones! Just kidding, I didn't think about that. I guess it would just switch to standard text when you are on a phone call.

Blah blah butt hurt. Blah blah I still have an iPhone 4 and I qualify.
You're not guaranteed a discounted price at all. Be glad with what you get.
I bought this 4 on preorder night. I didn't qualify for the full discount then and I ate it bitterly. I made sure I wasn't going to have that happen again so I waited patiently.
You want to leave AT&T over this? Okay, more bandwidth for me.

So can anyone tell me if I can be using the new mapping app, receive a call and still get location updates when I miss a turn?