Another day another Apple rumor, this one courtesy of Japanese news publication Nikkei Business. They say that Apple’s next generation iPad will not ship in the spring, like previous generations of the iPad, but instead will come out in the summer. Same story with the iPhone 5, which will ship in the fall just like the iPhone 4S did. Here’s where things get juicy though, Nikkei Business says that both the iPad 3 and the iPhone 5 will support LTE. Now before you get too excited, we want to lay out a few facts. First, LTE networks are still quite rare. They exist in America (AT&T, Verizon), in a handful of Asian countries, and as for Europe … some cities have it, some cities don’t, but more importantly there aren’t any LTE smartphones currently being sold there. So if Apple does decide to support LTE, then they’ll either have to sell two iPhone 5 variants, one that has LTE support and one that doesn’t, or just ship every iPhone 5 with LTE support and take the loss on higher priced components that’ll never get used.
There’s also the frequency nightmare, which is probably keeping Tim Cook up at night. Both Verizon and AT&T use the 700 MHz band for LTE, but in Europe it’s split between some folks doing 800 MHz, some doing 1800 MHz, some doing 2600 MHz, and some refarming their existing 900 MHz spectrum. Asia isn’t any better. Think of all the different product configurations that Apple would have to support in order to make sure every country gets the best possible iPhone and iPad experience.
We’ve yet to see products based on Qualcomm’s next generation LTE modem, which promises to support damn near every standard on the planet, along with every frequency between 700 MHz and 2600 MHz. If Qualcomm can deliver such a miracle, then this rumor might actually be true.