Out of all the things we might expect to see with the iPhone 5, 4G LTE support doesn’t currently top the list, as the necessary hardware is thought not to be available until next year. Nevertheless, China Mobile is claiming that it has reached an agreement with Apple to bring the next-gen iPhone to its 4G TD-LTE network.
The report comes to us from Giz-China, and indicates that the LTE deal between Apple and China Mobile (which is the world’s largest carrier, with over 600 million customers) has already been agreed to – it’s a done deal. Bringing the iPhone to China Mobile would be an incredible leap forward for the iPhone.
While we reported this claim back in June, it has been largely dismissed due to the lack of available LTE hardware that is sufficiently small and power efficient.
To make matters more interesting, Tim Cook, Apple’s COO, was reportedly spotted at China Mobile’s HQ in June. At the time, it was said that he was working with China Mobile on the possibility of bringing the iPhone to their cellular network. Further, when asked by a Wall Street analyst about the possibility of bringing the iPhone to China Mobile, Time Cook had the following to say:
Pre-paid or unlocked phones (phones without contract) are very key in China. And very key in a number of emerging markets where credit systems are not as well established as in Western Europe, USA, Japan, etc. The iPhone volume for the first 3 quarters of the fiscal year was up 5X year over year. We are not saying at all how to play perfectly in the environment. We have more to do and more to learn. We feel very good about our progress. We are taking those learnings and applying them to other markets as well.
While this move would undoubtedly be fantastic for the iPhone, and would provide a significant boost to Apple and their shareholders, I’m still not convinced that the iPhone will support LTE, especially considering the battery drain that Android headsets using the first-gen LTE chips are experiencing.