China Mobile, the state-owned Chinese phone carrier, has announced it has reached a deal to bring LTE-4G to the iPhone. While that in no way means the next iPhone, allegedly scheduled for September, will include the technology, it shows Apple is interested in developing it. The carrier has refused to elaborate or disclose when we would see an LTE-powered iPhone. That’s not surprising, since Apple doesn’t comment on future products and stops its partners from doing so.
Rumors of a 4G device from Apple have been ongoing, ever since the technology was first introduced. But as Apple has shown in the past, the first to introduce the technology isn’t necessarily who ends up doing it better. Apple takes the back seat and works on it behind the scenes, then manages to implement it in a way we’d have never thought of.
The iPhone’s presence in China has always been interesting, to say the least. The country uses a different kind of 3G, which is incompatible with non-China iPhones. That caused an incredible delay in the release of the iPhone in that country, even though iPhone sales have now gone up almost 250% in the last quarter. Who knew a country where iPhones usually arrive late would know be the first to sign a deal to bring 4G to the handheld before the rest of the world, at least as far as we know.
This doesn’t only affect customers in China, however. The fact such a deal has been reached proves Apple has been working on a 4G device for quite a while and is most likely ready to roll it out across 4G carriers around the world. That could mean that a future Verizon iPhone could be 4G-ready, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll see a Sprint iPhone coming out down the line.
If you’re looking for a 4G phone, you should think of skipping the September model and just wait: the 4G phone won’t be so far behind. This could even be the long-rumored "iPhone 5", which might come out in 2012.
Android phones are already far into the game, with devices like the Nexus S on Sprint. But prices aren’t that attractive either, requiring an additional premium on top of an already expensive plan, making 3G way more attractive. Will Apple manage to reach a good enough deal and gain enough 3G customers, or will 4G remain a niche technology, at least for now?