Until yesterday, I think the entire tech world had written off any chance of Apple’s next smartphone supporting a 4G platform. It’s a relatively new technology and it doesn’t quite have all the bugs ironed out yet — not typically something Apple dabbles in.

However, a recent BGR report rekindled 4G hopes, offering up proof that carriers were testing LTE-capable iPhones. Today, Engadget has even more evidence to add to the pile. Apparently Apple Stores are installing LTE equipment, and they have a picture to prove it…

The image you see above shows some LTE equipment that was recently installed in a major Apple Store. An anonymous tipster sent the photo into the tech site this morning, along with some other interesting information.

Although Verizon is the only major U.S. carrier with a deployed LTE network, Engadget’s source says AT&T installed the equipment. AT&T was expected to launch their new Long Term Evolution network this summer, but has yet to do so.

Of course the equipment could be part of a long-term plan to roll out LTE, and may not necessarily mean that the upcoming iPhone will be 4G-capable. But the new hardware mixed with the LTE files found in a carrier-build version of iOS really makes you think.

Will we see a 4G iPhone this year?

Update: The tipster who sent in the picture of the LTE equipment has asked Engadget to remove it. They in turn have asked us to remove it, so of course we have obliged. The picture above has been changed to a generic Apple Store photo.

  • Jools

    What would this “LTE equipment” be needed for? Was there ever “3G equipment” in Apple stores?

    • they installed them to have full 4G signal bars with the iPhone 5 in the store and when you get hone you have 1 bar

  • @Max_Kas

    its like a 4g microcell i believe

  • Burge

    Being asked to remove the picture , sounds like someone just leaked out Apples plans…roll on 4G

  • Ryan

    If you wanna see the photo go to Gizmodo.

  • We don’t have 4G in the UK yet, or most countries to be honest, so I wouldn’t bank on the next iPhone having it. The auction for the spectrum isn’t even going to be until about late 2012 let alone building the network up. Apple is more for the whole world and they don’t really change it for different markets, so if the chip is going to cost extra and not going to be used it seems a bit of a waste. The next phone I get will be 4G, it’ll be probably an iPhone but if something else good comes along then I’ll get that!

  • BoardDWorld

    As mentioned there’s hardly any countries with decent 3G in the cities let alone 4G being in the works. 4G belongs on Androids “I beet Apple but I’m totally useless” specs list for now.

    • I agree that 4G is useless in most places. Some areas are just now getting 3G networks.

      But in larger markets like the U.S. and soon China, there is 4G available in many areas and the speed difference is extremely noticeable. That being said, so is drop off in battery life.

      I think if, and that’s a huge if, Apple decided to implement 4G in their next smartphone, they would have a solution to the battery and reliability issues that plague current devices.

      They would also have support for 3G networks (obviously), so no 4G? No problem.