Apple is expected to finally jump into the 4G LTE race next year with the introduction of the next generation iPhone. By that time, LTE network coverage will be widespread enough to make the iPhone marketable, as noted by DigiTimes.
Some expected Apple to launch an iPhone with a 4G LTE chipset this year but it wasn’t meant to be. Instead, Cupertino equipped the iPhone 4S with dual antennas that likely helps to alleviate the signal attenuation problem and aids in reaching theoretical download speeds of up to 14.4Mbps via HSPA+ networks.
During an earnings call in April, then COO Tim Cook said first generation LTE chipsets forced a lot of design compromises that the company was unwilling to make. New chipsets expected next year are believed to be smaller and be backwards compatible with 3G to cover areas where 4G service is not yet available.
Previous iPhones had been released on a predictable time table prior to the 4S’ delayed release. Still, some analysts like Will Strauss, president of wireless chip market research firm Forward Concepts, believe Apple will release the next iPhone in the spring of 2012.
As of now, AT&T only offers 4G LTE service in five US cities with plans to add 10 additional markets by the end of the year. Verizon Wireless recently announced they were introducing LTE in 26 additional markets for a total of 143 areas covered. New iPhone carrier Sprint will begin their 4G LTE rollout by the middle of 2012 with a complete upgrade in place by the end of 2013.