LTE Unlikely to Arrive in iPhone Until at Least Q3 2012

In what should have come as no surprise to most observers, Apple yesterday introduced its new iPhone 4S without LTE 4G capabilities. The company had previously acknowledged that the first generation of LTE chips had required handset design compromises that Apple was unwilling to make, and analysts had noted that Apple-suitable LTE chips weren't likely until early 2012.

AnandTech takes a closer look at the status of LTE chip development, describing how a slower-than-expected transition to new 28-nanometer chip processes has left a number of companies unable to release the devices they had originally hoped to launch in 2011.

As you may have heard however, the move to 28nm at both TSMC and Global Foundries isn't really going all that smoothly. The jump from 4x-nm to 28nm is a very big one, so it's not unexpected to have pretty serious teething problems as the process ramps up. I suspect that an aggressive 28nm roadmap that didn't pan out probably caught a lot of SoC and smartphone vendors in a position where they couldn't ship what they wanted to in 2011.

As in earlier reports regarding Apple's likely LTE chip plans, AnandTech points to Qualcomm's MDM9615 modem as the chip to watch for. The MDM9615 will be the first chip to offer both LTE and voice services in a single chip.

qualcomm lte roadmap
But with the MDM9615 not scheduled to begin shipping in quantity until the second quarter of next year, AnandTech suggests that an LTE-enabled iPhone wouldn't appear until the third quarter of 2012.

Qualcomm's current roadmaps show the 28nm MDM9615 arriving in Q2 2012. The 9615 finds itself in a smaller 10x10mm package and is voice enabled as well. Apple (and all other smartphone makers) could replace the MDM6600 with the MDM9615 and have a "single chip" LTE solution for smartphones.

Apple's next-generation A6 system-on-a-chip is also said to be on track for a second quarter debut, and while such a schedule raises questions about Apple's plans for the iPad 3, it would line up nicely to allow Apple to launch a new iPhone based on the A6 and LTE about a year from now.

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Top Rated Comments

WhoDaKat Avatar
166 months ago
So sick of the haters!

File this under obvious. For those of us with half a brain and the ability not to be distracted by shiny objects, it was fairly obvious what Apple was releasing yesterday. These ridiculous expectations people are living with are absurd.

Yeah, they are going to completely redesign the best selling handset in the world after one generation. That is so howl at the moon stupid, I just don't get where people actually believed it. How do you people put pants on in the morning without help?

The iPhone 4 design is legen... wait for it... dary! A glass and stainless steel sandwich? Come one! I'd rather see Macs starting to copy that then the iPhone going unibody (snore). I hate design changes just for the sake of design changes, especially when the design is the iPhone 4!

And for the love of god, if you want a giant screen, buy a freaking iPad. I'd like to keep my phone in my pocket without a giant bulge (ok without another one lol yeah right!)

Am I the only one out there that doesn't want to change the form factor? Am I the only one that doesn't care about a giant screen on my phone?

Bottom line, haters gotta hate!
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
troop231 Avatar
166 months ago
Yep, so the next iPhone will launch around the same time next year with the new LTE chip perhaps, October 2012. iPad 3 with A6 will come out early 2012, with scattered Mac upgrades throughout the year. IMO, this seems like the way Apple is going for product refresh cycles now.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
_Refurbished_ Avatar
166 months ago
I believe Siri / iCloud are the two reasons the phone got delayed. The hardware was the easy part this year, but the software needed time to mature. Siri is still in BETA as we speak.

On top of that, pushing the phone back this year makes sense for future releases. It's a win, win for Apple, but a loss for everyone still running around with a 3GS :).
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DMVillain Avatar
166 months ago
What do you mean? iOS 6, A6, iPhone 6th generation... the 4S IS the 5!
Then hopefully they call the next one the 4G or just the 2012 iPhone because this name game is just getting stupid.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TallGuy1970 Avatar
166 months ago
This is exactly why I won't be upgrading my 4 to a 4S. I am not eligible for an upgrade until March 1, and I don't want to be stuck in a two-year contract on that date when LTE and possibly a whole new redesign will be coming 6-7 months after that.

I can live without Siri and a better camera for a few months if it means I can get LTE and possibly more goodies come October 2012. :D
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
KPOM Avatar
166 months ago
Leave it to Anand to breathe some common sense into tech reporting. Too bad he doesn't comment more before the rumor mill goes crazy.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)