It’s with great trepidation that we risk waking the slumbering iRumor giant, and suggest what the next iPhone could bring. One of the biggest questions is whether Apple will add LTE to its next hardware update. Will they bother? What are the pros and cons? Are they hurting by not having LTE in the 4S?
A quick primer for those unfamiliar: LTE (Long Term Evolution) is the fastest of the technologies that are currently marketed as 4G. In the US, Verizon has rolled out their seven-month-old LTE network at an impressive rate, and it’s already available in over 160 cities. AT&T, who has also been marketing HSPA+ as 4G, has an infant LTE network that is currently only available in five cities. The carrier has yet to release an LTE phone, though they do sell LTE tethering devices. Sprint is also making plans to ditch WiMax (their current 4G) for LTE, starting next year.
While Apple’s phone is now available on all three of those carriers, there are no LTE capabilities in the iPhone 4S. Apple likely skipped LTE on this year’s model for several reasons:
The Android LTE phones that have been released (like the HTC Thunderbolt, Droid Bionic, and Droid Charge) have all suffered from battery drain issues. Right now, any smartphone that has LTE needs to conserve power in other areas, or risk not being able to last the day on a full charge. Sacrificing battery life just to market the iPhone as 4G would go directly against Apple’s user-friendly aims.
Size could have been another factor that went into Apple’s decision to forego LTE. The first generation of LTE SIM cards are quite robust. A manufacturer that shoves one of these gargantuan chips into its phone has two options, neither of which are particularly appealing. One choice is to throw in all of the highest-quality hardware, and end up with a Sherman Tank of a smartphone. The other option is to cut corners in other areas to reduce size, but end up with a phone that has previous-generation capabilities.