'iPhone 5' to Support 21 Mbps HSPA+ '4G' Technology
Japanese blog Mac Otakara reports (via MacPost) that a China Unicom executive apparently confirmed during a presentation at this week's Macworld Asia that the "iPhone 5" set to be announced next week will indeed support HSPA+ sometimes-called "4G" technology, offering a maximum theoretical data speed of 21 Mbps (up from 7.2Mbps). A slide showing the information was photographed by Japanese site PC Watch.
Japanese IT news site "PC Watch" tells that, Research vice president of China Unicom, Huan Wenliang, told iPhone 5 will support W-CDMA based high-speed data transfer standard HSPA Evolution "HSPA+" (21Mbps) at keynote speech in Macworld Asia 2011.
Many had been hoping that the next iPhone would support the even faster LTE 4G standard that has begun rolling out on a number of carriers, but rumors have consistently suggested that Apple will hold back on supporting the technology until appropriate chips of acceptable size and power consumption are available to meet Apple's needs. Apple has historically been conservative in adopting the latest cellular network technologies, having elected to release the original iPhone as an EDGE-only device even as many carriers were already rolling out 3G technology.
Claims of the iPhone 5 supporting HSPA+ surfaced earlier this year, with many noting that the move would result in a significant network speed difference between AT&T and Verizon/Sprint customers in the United States. AT&T has rolled out the intermediary HSPA+ technology as a bridge to LTE, and has been calling HSPA+ "4G" in its marketing -- though many believe "3.5G" is a more accurate description. So, existing AT&T iPhone 4 owners upgrading should be able to see a speed boost if they live in a supported area. In comparison, Verizon's data speeds max out a theoretical maximum of 3.1 Mbps. Meanwhile, true 4G (LTE) support for both Verizon and AT&T is not expected until the 2012 iPhone model at the earliest.
Qualcomm's world-mode MDM6600 chip found in the Verizon/CDMA iPhone 4 already supports 14.4 Mbps HSPA+, but the device itself is limited to CDMA networks.
China Unicom is Apple's current carrier partner for the iPhone in China, although China Mobile and China Telecom are also working hard to secure the ability to offer the device.