updated 08:40 am EDT, Fri April 22, 2011
LTE roadmap makes iPhone with LTE possible in 2012
A chipset that would give the iPhone and other mid-size phones LTE-based 4G should arrive in 2012, president of wireless market analyst group Forward Concepts Will Strauss said in a brief interview Friday. Both Apple's new partner Qualcomm, Infineon (Intel), ST-Ericsson, and other companies should have chips that merge both 3G and 4G into a single part next year. The unification would be necessary not just for size, CNET was told, but to make sure they could gracefully drop to 3G or lower during the period when 4G wasn't ubiquitous.
Apple's repeated statements that current LTE chipsets needed too many compromises were valid, Strauss added. The extra bulk of phones like the HTC Thunderbolt and Samsung Droid Charge is necessary because they need a discrete chipset just for 4G data and a second, 3G chipset to handle calls and regular data. The Voice over LTE standard hasn't been ratified either and wouldn't let owners make phone calls even if they never left a 4G area.
Although not mentioned, early chipsets are also battery hungry, again explaining the sizes and poor performance of current models. The Thunderbolt has a 1,400mAh pack and can run out of battery in as little as four to five hours. Samsung's Droid Charge has a larger 1,600mAh battery partly to combat that issue, while the delayed Motorola Droid Bionic may use a 1,930mAh battery.
A cautious attitude towards cellular chipsets has been familiar for Apple. It drew criticism for shipping the original iPhone with 2G and waiting a year for 3G, but it argued once again that battery life and the technology weren't ideal. The iPhone 3G has sometimes been touted as one of the first full-touchscreen smartphones to have acceptably long battery life.