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No Apple-Suitable 4G LTE Chips Until Early 2012?

With rumors of Apple planning for a later-than-usual iPhone release this year, some have hoped that Apple might use the extra time to build in support for the latest 4G LTE networks beginning to go live with many carriers. On Apple's earnings conference call earlier this week, Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook reiterated earlier comments that the current generation of LTE chips forced design compromises that the company has been unwilling to make.

But as noted by Forbes after the call, that situation won't be resolved in time for Apple to bring LTE to the fifth-generation iPhone, pushing the compatibility off until the sixth-generation model in 2012. In particular, the chips Apple needs for an LTE-compatible iPhone simply aren't in production yet.

Those chips won't appear in handsets until next year, says Will Strauss, president of wireless chip tracker Forward Concepts. "They're right that there's nothing out there that fits the bill, and likely nothing will until the fourth quarter of this year," Strauss says when asked about Cook's remarks.

The report notes that Verizon's current 4G handset offering, the HTC Thunderbolt, relies on two chips for connectivity, a Samsung one for 4G and a Qualcomm one for 3G. Hybrid chips offering both 4G and fallback 3G compatibility won't become available until late this year and thus won't make it into handsets until early 2012.

The Cell Phone Junkie reports (via TiPb) that Apple is likely to use Qualcomm's recently-announced MDM9615 wireless chip to provide that hybrid functionality. Qualcomm notes that it will begin shipping samples of the chip in "late 2011".

Related roundups: iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6

Top Rated Comments

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44 months ago

Give us a 4.3" screen so the phone would have to be somewhat bigger - big enough to support two chips for 3G and 4G.

Tony


No. Please, no.
Rating: 4 Votes
44 months ago
That's completely fine with me. LTE speeds aren't really LTE speeds anyway. Even Verizon which does have the fastest LTE falls short of at least 50% of the actual LTE speeds. It's all false advertising anyway :)
Rating: 4 Votes
44 months ago

Have you used a 4.3" phone. They don't seem that much physically bigger but the screen size is awesome! Apple keeps getting squeezed with adding new technology because of the size limitations of the phone. Giving us a slightly bigger size with the advantage of a bigger screen size AND more components seems like an excellent tradeoff.

Yeah - I know if will never happen because SJ is compulsive obsessive with never making things bigger.

Tony


The current size is more than adequate for me, and I use reading glasses! The screen could possibly be increased I suppose if the black areas were somehow shrunk, but unless your hands are like shovels the phones already big enough.
Rating: 2 Votes
44 months ago

Of all the things that iPhone needs soon, LTE is not one of them.

We can all wait until its widespread, and usable.


It's already available to 110 Americans. It will reach over half of the US by year's end thanks to Verizon. When you look at AT&T's 3G penetration at the time of the iPhone 3G launch, it's actually not that far off.

The real issue is having a radio that allows for decent battery life. Even if they can consolidate it into 1 chip, that doesn't mean Apple will be pleased with its battery performance enough to include it in their phones.

My understanding of the MDM9615 is that it's a powerhouse.

The next generation MDM9615 will support LTE (FDD and TDD), DC-HSPA+, EV-DO Rev-B and TD-SCDMA


Basically, that means it supports LTE, super high speed 3G HSPA+ (think T-mobile's 42 mbps) and EV-DO Rev-B (CDMA). That means it should be a worldphone chip, and it's also fabbed on the brand new 28nm process, which means it will be as low power as one could expect. That makes it an excellent candidate for the 2012 iPhone 6.

The MDM9615 and MDM8215 are designed to pair up with the WTR1605 radio frequency IC and PM8018 power management IC to provide a highly integrated chipset solution. The WTR1605 will be Qualcomm’s first Radio Transceiver in Wafer Level Package and will be a highly integrated radio transceiver with multi-mode (LTE FDD, LTE TDD, CDMA, WCDMA, TD-SCDMA, GSM) and multi-band support.


TD-SCDMA is the CDMA variant they use in China. Outside of penta-band GSM (which I don't know if this offers, and I don't see why it wouldn't since the current iPhone Gobi chip offers it), this radio can be used on every damn carrier out there in the world essentially.

source (http://www.qualcomm.com/news/releases/2011/02/14/qualcomm-introduces-28nm-mass-market-ltedc-hspa-chipsets-mobile-broadband-0)
Rating: 2 Votes
44 months ago

Have you used a 4.3" phone. They don't seem that much physically bigger but the screen size is awesome! Apple keeps getting squeezed with adding new technology because of the size limitations of the phone. Giving us a slightly bigger size with the advantage of a bigger screen size AND more components seems like an excellent tradeoff.

Yeah - I know if will never happen because SJ is compulsive obsessive with never making things bigger.

Tony




Uh, no thanks. I don't need a bigger phone print in my pocket.
Rating: 2 Votes
44 months ago

Give us a 4.3" screen so the phone would have to be somewhat bigger - big enough to support two chips for 3G and 4G.

Tony


No thanks.

4.0 max whilst retaining current size. It's a phone not a tablet.
Rating: 2 Votes
44 months ago

The fact is, we've been through this before. The iPhone 1 was going to be a huge failure because it didn't have 3G. They were concerned about coverage and battery life. It's the same issue now.

People are saying apple should make those sacrifices now to keep up with technology. But nobody is addressing the fact that apple has historical evidence that this is a sound approach.


So many people just love to see every issue from the Apple perspective. There are people who get paid for that. Should not you - as a consumer - care more about the gadget you want than Apple success?


Using two separate chips eats battery life. Not to mention LTE is still "just" coming out, so it won't be widespread enough to take advantage of it until 2012 anyway.


Apple does not have to use two chips. They could just design separate phone for Verizon (just like iPhone 4) which does not support GSM. Not ideal but that's where technology is today. At least Verizon customers could enjoy iPhone 5 with LTE.
Rating: 2 Votes
44 months ago

I still haven't seen the "killer app" that makes this higher mobile speed something I can't wait another year for. I know that's not the smartest way of looking at it - the higher speeds bring the innovations we haven't imagined yet. But I'm not seeing them on the Android platform, either.

It seems to mostly benefit tethering - but tethering benefits other devices and not the mobile handled experience.

Fast access to these new cloud music storage services is interesting, but the data caps practically kill their usefulness.


Then you have never streamed video onto your phone from home or Netflix or Slingbox. It's not pleasant over 3G onto the iPhone - looks and responds even worse on the iPad.

We need 4G NOW!

Tony
Rating: 1 Votes
44 months ago

Apple does not have to use two chips. They could just design separate phone for Verizon (just like iPhone 4) which does not support GSM. Not ideal but that's where technology is today. At least Verizon customers could enjoy iPhone 5 with LTE.


And there we have it friends! This guy has no clue what he's talking about. There are no hybrid LTE/3G chips available yet, so the multiple chips thing has nothing to do with GSM/CDMA. If Apple wanted to support 3G AND LTE which they would have to do considering how scarce LTE is at the moment, the only way for them to do it is to use two chips. Battery life would drain.

Here's a site for you to consider: Thunderbolt Battery Life (http://www.gottabemobile.com/2011/03/18/htc-thunderbolt-battery-life/)

This is what people are talking about when they say the iPhone's battery life would be horrible. It has nothing to do with a hybrid CDMA/GSM chip, and has everything to do with the lack of a hybrid 3G/LTE chip.

In fact, hybrid CDMA/GSM chips exist, and are already being used by Apple.
Rating: 1 Votes
44 months ago
The fact is, we've been through this before. The iPhone 1 was going to be a huge failure because it didn't have 3G. They were concerned about coverage and battery life. It's the same issue now.

People are saying apple should make those sacrifices now to keep up with technology. But nobody is addressing the fact that apple has historical evidence that this is a sound approach.
Rating: 1 Votes

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