Apple is speculated to be selecting component suppliers for the new iPhone, which would succeed the current-generation iPhone 4S and is expected to debut this fall. Like the recently launched third-generation iPad, Apple’s new iPhone, which may drop the number scheme in a new naming convention introduced this spring, is likely to adopt 4G LTE mobile broadband connectivity, but there will be key differentiators between the LTE modems used on the iPad and the iPhone. For one, unlike the iPad where two LTE versions are created–one for AT&T’s network and a second for Verizon’s network in the U.S.–the iPhone LTE model will have a world-wide LTE radio allowing a singular phone model to be activated on either carrier’s network. It’s unclear if specific Asian and European LTE spectrums would also be supported as well as those regions operate 4G on different frequencies than those used in North America, particularly in the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, with Sprint supporting LTE on different spectrums than Verizon and AT&T, Apple would have to accommodate the nation’s third largest carrier as well if Sprint will launch an iPhone LTE this fall.
According to Barclays, for the multi-spectrum, multi-mode LTE support, Apple is likely to choose Qualcomm’s MDM9615 chipset, which is slightly more advanced than the MDM9600 chip on the iPad. The MDM9615 would support both voice and data over LTE whereas the iPad supports only data over LTE.
The chipset is also significant as it will allow Apple’s iPhone to be among the first devices to support voice over LTE. Current generation Android devices that support LTE on Verizon and AT&T right now only use LTE for data and still route voice over older 3G or 2G networks. Voice over LTE would be delivered in a similar manner as VoIP.
Also, like the iPad, component costs for the new iPhone would increase. Support of Qualcomm’s new LTE radio on Apple’s flagship smartphone would cost the company an additional $3 to $10 extra when compared to the 3G radio currently used. Most likely, prices would remain the same and either Apple or its carrier partners would absorb the cost.
The fall launch timeframe would be the second time that Apple is using that period to launch an iPhone, deviating from historic launches in the summer.