Apple Reportedly Testing 4G LTE iPhone on Carrier Networks

iPhone 5 mockup

A report from BGR today claims that Apple is testing LTE-compatible iPhones on at least one of its mobile carrier partner’s networks. BGR’s evidence comes in the form of a reference to LTE usage buried inside a property list file (.plist) from an internal iOS firmware build used by one of Apple’s carrier partners. The reference can be seen below.

Does this mean that an LTE-compatible iPhone 5 is coming soon? Unlikely, as Apple is probably just testing LTE technology to keep abreast of its performance with current (or next-gen) iPhone hardware. But Apple is unlikely to include 4G LTE connectivity in the iPhone 5 or anytime soon mainly due to the fact that LTE is a battery hog. In April 2011, Apple exec Tim Cook had this to say about LTE technology:

….I think you can see this in the [LTE phones] that have been shipped, is that the first generation of LTE chipsets force a lot of design compromises with the handset, and some of those, we are just not willing to make.

The design compromises are likely the larger size of LTE chipsets, which require two antennas to function, and LTE’s capacity to consume more power. For example, SlashGear recently reviewed the LTE-compatible HTC Thunderbolt phone and found that, when connected to an LTE network, the phone’s battery lasted just 3 hours.


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