Apple CEO Tim Cook has been clear in stating that Apple won’t be adopting LTE 4G in their devices until next-gen chips become available, reducing power consumption and physical size.
Current LTE chips have a reputation for sucking a lot of power. They’re also larger than many other radio chips, making them less than ideal for a company like Apple, with their “thin is in” design philosophy.
Fortunately, Qualcomm has just announced their next-generation Gobi 4000 chip, which supports 4G LTE, as well as HSPA+ for 3G. The chip is also compatible with 2G data technologies such as the GSM-based HSPA and the EV-DO technology used by Sprint and Verizon – this means the new chip will work in devices support all 4 major US wireless networks.
The new chipset is also much less power-hungry than current LTE chips, although it will likely still use more power than current 3G chipsets, mainly because it’s pulling more data at once.
Considering that Apple has already been testing LTE iPads, and the fact that this chip is significantly improved over the 1st-generation chips, it’s possible, and perhaps likely, that Apple will begin building LTE support into future iOS devices, starting with the next-gen iPad, which will likely launch early next year.
The iPad, with its excellent battery life, will be an excellent testing ground for the new chips, as higher power consumption will be less of an issue on the iPad than on the iPhone. If successful, the chip would also likely be used in the iPhone 5.
While Apple’s plans for supporting LTE remain unclear, this chipset does introduce a strong possibility, and increases the likelihood that we could see support for the new lightning-fast 4G data standard appearing in the next generation of iOS devices.
The new chips are already shipping to manufacturers, and will likely start appearing in devices in the coming months.