Making sense of iPhone 5 LTE rumors

Making sense of iPhone 5 LTE rumors

There are a couple of conflicting stories this weekend about wether or not Apple's upcoming iPhone 5 -- which could be set for launch on October 7 -- will have 4G LTE wireless networking built in.

BGR claims to have caught a glimpse at a plist file (preferences list) from an iPhone carrier that shows some interesting LTE info:

BGR has obtained evidence of an internal iOS test build from one of Apple’s major carrier partners, and buried in the firmware is a property list (.plist file) for LTE. This doesn’t necessarily mean every Apple device that’s about to be released will feature an embedded 4G LTE modem, but it certainly means Apple isn’t sitting on the sidelines as 4G LTE networks continue to roll out around the world.

The Cell Phone Junkie, however, points out that the chips Apple probably wants to use still won't be ready until 2012:

Typically, a switch in chips would require a 3-4 month production process on Qualcomm’s part for the initial order. This would mean if the iPhone 5 was using anything other than the MDM6600 for an October release, we would have likely heard about a leak (like the one from the The Street for it launch) for the switch to something different. And unless Apple is pushing the device launch into early 2012, I don’t see a chip switch happening this year.

So how do we reconcile these apparently conflicting reports? Apple almost certainly has LTE iPhones in the labs so they no doubt have iOS builds that can run the radio. It's possible the plist entry exists for lab testing but not for real world use.

That means we'd still get an HSPA+ "4G" iPhone 5 in 2011, but would still be waiting on an LTE 4G iPhone 6 in 2012.

Unless of course Apple's managed to work a miracle and decided to make iPhone 5 the first AT&T LTE device...

[BGR, The Cell Phone Junkie]

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Making sense of iPhone 5 LTE rumors


I'd be shocked if an LTE kit was ready with decent enough power consumption was ready in time for an iPhone 5 this fall.
But if it was, I'd buy one.

Neither Tmo nor AT&T will be able to sustain 42Mbps. Once it's all said and done, LTE in general will hover around 8-12. Still plenty until LTE Advance is ready.

"Unless of course Apple’s managed to work a miracle and decided to make iPhone 5 the first AT&T LTE device…"
Umm... You are aware that Verizon has iPhones as well, right?
Given the larger footprint (and maturity) of Verizon's LTE network - If Apple is testing an LTE device, it is most likely on Verizon's network.

Lars you are thinking USA based only. Most carriers have a small or non existent LTE deployment, but they have started to ramp up and we are starting to see more and more deployment of LTE so it makes sense that Apple will start testing for next year. Here is a map of LTE worldwide deployments (

I don't see where this news is all that exciting. It would be terribly short-sighted and ignorant to believe that Apple hasn't had a LTE iPhone in development/testing for the better part of a year now (if not longer). They're likely just entering the next, wider phase of testing/development where they've got a handful of devices making the rounds for pre-production verification and debugging.
That being said, I'd imagine that it'll be at least until next year's iPhone before we see anything LTE-enabled. The iPad 3 would be fantastic as an LTE device (and would make more sense from a battery/media consumption standpoint), but I just see Steve wanting to go a bit more flagship with their first LTE device.

4G LTE is the only thing I've seen from the "known" and rumored specs that would make me want to sell my 4 after only one year and make the switch.
For me, I'm thinking Verizon iPhone 6.

We've had national 21mbps 3G networks on Australia for a year or so, with 42mbps covering all the major cities. It just helps share the load, speeds are still only 6-8mbps on average - but far more consistent. The US is sooooo far behind :/

Verizon's LTE is very fast. Other carriers 4G average around 4Mbps. I average 8Mbps and will go as high as 25Mbps when needed and full bars. I don't think I could go back to 3G, or anything less than a consistant 3.5Mbs.