There has been a lot of on-off talk regarding whether Apple will make its upcoming iPhone compatible with the data technology of tomorrow – 4G LTE. Whilst it doesn’t seem very Apple-esque to adopt relatively new technology so early, the continual speculation must have some legitimacy behind it, right?

Well, Cupertino-based company’s assault on the huge Chinese market is not exactly a big secret. Currently, only one carrier – China Unicom – partners Apple to distribute its iPhone in the nation of over a billion. China Mobile and China Telecom – boasting a combined subscriber base of around 3/4 billion, are also expected to be retailing Apple’s latest smartphone(s) once released, with the former having held secret talks with ex-CEO Steve Jobs and the latter reported to be spending upwards of $250 million in promotion and advertising.

Now China Mobile, which itself has 600 million subscribers, is 4G compatible, and despite 4G only being in relative infancy Stateside and virtually non-existent in Europe, the Chinese market alone renders implementing LTE to the iPhone 5 a potentially worthwhile venture for the fruit company. With China’s consumers serving as the main driving force behind a 4G iPhone, this could result in the US market getting a taste of the action.

With that in mind, the possibility is now emerging of a 4G LTE iPhone coming to AT&T. As SlashGear reports, Apple plans to demo its latest smartphone running on a "tightly controlled 4G network" by installing AT&T’s LTE base stations in certain venues. This doesn’t necessarily mean the device will be released mainstream, or indeed at all. But when one takes into consideration the fact that a huge 4G network such as China Mobile is very likely to retail the iPhone, there is certainly scope for a 4G iPhone to arrive if not in October, then sometime in the near future.

There are a limited number of 4G phones already on the market from Apple’s rivals, although as is often the case with early adopters, there have been issues – notably battery drain. From a technical point of view, it would be a big surprise if Apple did indeed decide to implement 4G at this stage – what with iCloud being pushed along with iOS 5, adding more techno-babble may confuse customers, some of which are quite often easily confused.

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