Just a week ago, references to 4G LTE testing surfaced in an alleged private build of iOS 5, which was proof of Apple’s interest in going beyond 3G with its future iOS-based products. Now, it seems that some of those references have made their way to semi-public iOS 5 seeds, suggesting yet again that Apple is serious about bringing LTE to a next-generation iPhone.
Although there’s no graphical feature alluding to 4G support in the latest build of iOS 5, a .plist file within the system mentions it quite clearly, as you can tell from the image below. .plist files are usually used to store preferences or other system related settings and don’t perform any function other than being read and written by applications. So far, no semi-public build of iOS 5 has done anything with this file, yet private builds that are used nowhere else but Apple’s Cupertino headquarters might do more.
3G data works well and delivers decent results for the majority of users, but as we become more reliant on accessing data on the fly from our mobile devices, Wi-Fi-like speed is becoming essential. That’s why many device makers and phone carriers have invested in enhancing their networks even further through technologies like LTE which can be as much as 10 times faster than regular 3G. Many Android phones, such as the HTC Thunderbolt are 4G LTE enabled, and are available on Verizon Wireless in the United States for a few months now.
If you’re hoping for an LTE-capable iPhone in the next few months, you should not, since Apple’s LTE testing still seems to be at a rather early stage, otherwise the iOS enthusiasts would have likely found evidence of it way earlier. Apple is known for holding back, and even introduce certain “de facto” standards late, in order to maintain the quality of its products: currently, most 4G smartphones have their caveats such as weaker battery life, a drawback that Apple would very unlikely allow into a shipping product. Extensive testing will allow Apple to address as many issues as it can before shipping a 4G-capable iPhone, much like what happened when the first-generation iPhone was first introduced, without a 3G chip, because Apple hadn’t sorted out all the issues just yet at that time.
Nonetheless, a 4G-capable iPhone will provide a great advantage to power users who consume great amounts of data while on the go. Hopefully, one will be available sooner rather than later.