updated 06:05 am EDT, Wed October 5, 2011
LTE chip inefficiencies blamed for iPhone 5 delay
Apple did not deliver an all-new iPhone 5 at its October 4 iPhone 4S event due to the current state of LTE chip technology, according to analysts. The president of Forward Concepts, Will Strauss, believes that Apple is holding back on an iPhone 5 until LTE chips are more compact. Currently, the LTE devices on the market such as the HTC Thunderbolt use an LTE baseband chip and a second 3G chip for the voice functions which would not fit in Apple's current form factor.
Anand Shimpi also holds the same view. "The iPhone 4 PCB [printed circuit board] is already incredibly small, not leaving any room for an extra chip to enable LTE without shrinking the size of the battery (or increasing the thickness of the phone to accommodate both a larger PCB and a big battery)," Shimpi argues.
Adding weight to Shimpi's argument are comments made on the subject by Apple CEO Tim Cook. At Apple's April conference call, Cook (then COO) said that the "first generation of LTE chipsets force a lot of design compromises."
Shimpi believes an LTE chip that may be suitable for Apple’s needs is expected to appear in the second quarter of 2012. The Qualcomm MDM9615 will be built on a smaller 28nm manufacturing process and is also capable of handling voice and LTE data simultaneously. They will also be much more power efficient.
"Apple could [use]...the MDM9615 and have a 'single chip' LTE solution for smartphones...Next year should be when we can finally get LTE into something iPhone-sized," Shimpi adds.
At the earliest, Shimpi believes that an iPhone 5 could arrive on the market by the third quarter in 2012, or around the same time that Apple has typically unveiled its new iPhones. [via CNET]