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

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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".

Top Rated Comments

Icaras Avatar
146 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.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ArchaicRevival Avatar
146 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 :)
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
chrmjenkins Avatar
146 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)
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
andys53 Avatar
146 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.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LbSigman Avatar
146 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.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
daneoni Avatar
146 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.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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