While Apple’s new iPhone 5 does support fast LTE cellular data throughout the world, it seems that the Verizon and Sprint iPhone 5 will not support one of LTE’s more useful features: simultaneous voice and data.
The Verge reports:
The Verge has confirmed with Verizon Wireless that the iPhone 5 won’t support the feature when it’s on the carrier’s cellular network, even if it is connected to LTE.
Since Apple says that Sprint and Verizon will be offering the same version of the iPhone 5, it’s safe to say that simultaneous voice and data will not be available on Sprint’s network either.
Many other LTE phones, including popular Samsung Android-based phones, do support the feature – so why not the iPhone 5? According to The New York Times, it comes down to a design decision. The iPhone 5 only features two antennas, but a third antenna (and an extra chip) would be required to support simultaneous voice and text.
So why does Verizon’s Samsung Galaxy S III, a 4G LTE phone, juggle calls and data? Samsung added an extra antenna so that it pulls data from the 4G LTE network at the same time that it’s using another antenna to do voice, said Anand Shimpi, editor in chief of AnandTech.
Then why didn’t Apple add another antenna? It actually already has two antennas in an effort to improve reception, and it would have had to add a third antenna just for Verizon and Sprint phones to give them simultaneous data and calls, Mr. Shimpi explained. Leaving that third antenna out allows Apple to simplify its manufacturing process of the iPhone for multiple carriers.
The New York Times also notes that LTE networks will eventually support the ability to carry voice calls rather than just data. This would eliminate the issue, and make the additional antenna unnecessary.
It’s an unfortunate situation, especially considering that competing Android phones can handle the feature. I wonder how this will affect users’ decision to switch from AT&T to Verizon or Sprint?