Right, I’m going to come right out and say this before I go any further: I’m going to get a lot of stick for this, and the rest of the iDB team thinks that I’ve lost my mind, but I’m going to write this anyway. I don’t think the iPad or iPhone is going to get an LTE radio. At least, not yet.

Now I know this flies in the face of what we are being told by just about everyone, including a very recent article by the Wall Street Journal. The general consensus is that Apple will indeed bring an iPad 3 to market during the coming weeks, and that said iPad 3 will be the first Apple device to come packed with an LTE radio for hooking up to super-fast 4G networks.

I, however, think you’re all wrong. Here’s why…

LTE isn’t ready

This LTE technology that everyone is apparently crying out for – is it actually widespread? Let’s just use Verizon as an example, seeing as it’s the one that pushes 4G the most. Just look at one of its bazillion Android handsets and you’ll see what I mean.

Hitting Verizon’s 4G coverage web page suggests that the chances are you won’t be reading this and be in a 4G coverage area. In fact, there are still plenty of areas that don’t have 3G coverage yet for that matter.

The situation is even worse if you’re an AT&T subscriber. Everyone seems to want a 4G device that may not even have a 4G network to work with. And that’s in the United States…

Outside the country, LTE is barely getting going. The UK for example is currently running extremely limited testing in the capital, with the technology not expected to be rolled out at all for another two years. Then there’s the lack of coverage to consider.

It’s much the same story across the globe, yet LTE is being clamored for by many Apple watchers.

Lest we forget that this is the same Apple which wouldn’t put 3G into the original iPhone because it wasn’t yet deemed to be ready. Sound familiar?

Multiple devices for different countries don’t jive

One potential way of getting around the issue of having an iPhone or iPad feature that is useless outside the United States is to manufacturer different devices for different territories. Apple could, for example, sell a 4G iPad in the US while shipping a 3G-only version worldwide. I’m not convinced, though.

New CEO Tim Cook is very much a logistics guy, and having to make different machines for different territories just isn’t his style. With the man supposedly keen on ‘just in time’ manufacturing and the like, I can’t see him going for something that can only make manufacturing more difficult than it already is. With Apple struggling to keep up with demand on recent product launches, can it really afford to have manufacturing capacity reduced even further by having to put together multiple versions of the same device?

Battery life

It’s a well known issue for all Android handsets that sport LTE, and it has led Apple to comment on the situation in the past, but battery life is still the biggest drawback of LTE 4G. With Android phones known for their inability to get through a day with a 4G radio in use, Apple would need to have worked some Cupertino magic if it is to throw caution to the wind and bring LTE to iOS devices this year. We all know how poor the battery can be in the iPhone 4S right now – imagine how bad it would be with LTE built in!

I’m sure I’m going to receive much vitriol thanks to my point of view, and some may argue that it is coming from someone who lives in the UK and wouldn’t see a benefit from LTE in an iPad or iPhone anyway. And to some extent, that’s true. Moreover, I’m not going to sit here and say Apple will never use LTE tech – they no doubt will – I’m simply saying I don’t think 2012 will be the year we see it. Not unless something changes rather soon at any rate.

Of course, I’ve been wrong before!

  • Elias Haddad

    agreed

  • Agree

  • Anonymous

    For the little use I use 3g when I’m not near wifi, I couldn’t care less about LTE. Not only that but I find 3g quite fast enough. I understand there are some people out there that are the exception but I wouldn’t be surprised if LTE doesn’t come this time around either and I wouldn’t care. It’s like ooooh my web page loads faster by 2 seconds vs 4….sheesh.

  • Anonymous

    “Hitting Verizon’s 4G coverage web page suggests that the chances are you won’t be reading this and be in a 4G coverage area. In fact, there are still plenty of areas that don’t have 3G coverage yet for that matter.”

    “Apple could, for example, sell a 4G iPad in the US while shipping a 3G-only version worldwide.”

    typically american way of view. only the us is interesting. no matter about lte developement outside the us. poor article.

    • KewlDewd

      Typical internet idiot generalizing Americans at any opportunity. And if you weren’t an idiot you would understand that he is suggesting this as one of many possibilities and then says he thinks it will NOT happen. But you’re too busy bashing the “typical american” to comprehend the article.

    • 1: The angle is that Apple shouldn’t release something that’s useless outside the US – how is that an American way of view?

      and 2: I’m not American.

      • Anonymous

        ok, but why do you play around with american providers like at&t and verizon? that sounds like an american 😛

      • Anonymous

        i think lte coverage in germany is more progressive. so it could be usefull outside the us.

      • Anonymous

        “1: The angle is that Apple shouldn’t release something that’s useless outside the US”

        They have before. Siri.
        Yes, the next iPhone will have LTE.

      • Siri is a software upgrade not a hardware makeover.

      • I’m using siri in canada.
        it’s not fully featured here but it was worth the price.
        and I’m sure soon it will have all the features like the location services and stuff here as well.

    • I don’t think he’s American…

    • It has nothing to do with “American.” It has everything to do with money. Everybody knows if you want to make money you sell your product in China and the US first. Not because those countries are better but because there are more consumers. It’s called supply and demand. We were taught that by the age of 10. Of course with your logic Apple should be making iPads that have LTE technology for somebody in the middle of the Sahara. Get real.

      • Anonymous

        Apple should left the decision to its costumers wether and where they want to use LTE nor UMTS, etc.

        Apple also treated its new 4s costumers like a child by the age of 10, because they must use 3g and can not turn off to edge.

      • If you JB you can use a toggle to change it. Also, from what I hear, that built in Apple toggle will be back in iOS 5.1. Obviously they realized the follies of their ways and are putting it back.

      • Apple will never leave anything up to its consumers. Apple is going to do what it thinks is going to be useful. At this point LTE is useless outside of major cities. And I dont see myself moving to Dallas or Chicago or New York. You should switch to Andriod. That way you’ll have a reason to dog on Apple. Go on now, get your chunk of plastic. Love your unreliable LTE network and Ill stick with my 3G device and wifi hotspots all around my town.

      • Anonymous

        I just wrote what I think, not what you have to do. So pls don’t tell me what I should do.

      • Stupid fucking idiot Apple will never listen to the consumers because they think like you.

      • Imahottguy

        When has Apple ever left any decision to its’ customers? I have been saying this for a while now; there will not be any LTE iDevices this year. Why? Because marketing the iPhone4G or iPhoneLTE or whatever will make Average Joe think that LTE is everywhere, when it isn’t. At this point LTE is not where it would need to be for Apple to put 4G modems in their phones. So when Average Joe waits in line all night to be one of the first to get the LTE iPhone and realizes after a week that all he has seen is the 3G icon, he will feel cheated, and there will be an uproar in the media over LTE-gate and all of the people that didn’t check the coverage maps to see if their area had “4G” will be returning their devices- or at least blogging, face booking and twittering about how it is a croc.

  • yes,agree

  • Seems that Canada has come a long way. We took in in the a** for so many years with system access fees and outrageous prices. Thanks to the increasing competition now things got better. The only thing that still sucks is the 3 year contracts. All the major carriers now offer it in Canada and in almost all the major cities. That being said, I’m sorry but I want LTE. I will be VERY disappointed if the next iPhone does not have LTE. iPhone 4S was the first iPhone I skipped because it was such a small upgrade.

    I mean if the next iPhone doesn’t have LTE what is it gonna have, a bigger screen and that’s it? I like the iPhone but come on…it seems that apple is too comfortable and doesn’t have enough competition.

    • Wrong Apple always does what is best for the consumer. Fact is LTE is not the best most reliable network standard yet. Most people connect to WiFi anyways!, 3G is where its at now because it has matured very well. LTE is where its going to be in 4 years. LTE is a marketing gimmick to make people believe that by having 4G, Some how make Android phones better then an iPhones and that is simply not true. From what I have seen, all my friends loved there android handsets, but when they finally got around to getting an iPhone, they felt quite stupid because they did’nt know that they didn’t know how much better it is for everyday task.

    • Wrong Apple always does what is best for the consumer. Fact is LTE is not the best most reliable network standard yet. Most people connect to WiFi anyways!, 3G is where its at now because it has matured very well. LTE is where its going to be in 4 years. LTE is a marketing gimmick to make people believe that by having 4G, Some how make Android phones better then an iPhones and that is simply not true. From what I have seen, all my friends loved there android handsets, but when they finally got around to getting an iPhone, they felt quite stupid because they did’nt know that they didn’t know how much better it is for everyday task.

  • Totally agree

  • I honestly agree with you ten fold!! Yes 4G is the latest greatest thing that networks are releasing but seeing how new it is, and the cost of upgrading towers vs time to install…I don’t see being a reality YET…heck…the carriers can’t seem to completely handle the iPhone on 3G as it is with the amount of people using the current hardware!! Also as you mentioned, I don’t see Apple sacrificing that much battery drain to just boost a little bit speed. Just a thought and great post but no one knows a 100% until release day…

  • I have thought this for a long time. Nationwide 4G licenses aren’t even being handed out here in the UK until the end of this year, and I’m pretty sure Apple aren’t stupid enough to try and sell us something we have no chance of using.

  • I am gonna say I hope the iphone 5 at least has lte. I use my SLOOOOOW 3g on verizon all the time and pair it with my ipad so I really would like a boost in speed. I understand your arguments though and they make rational sense. Of course releasing siri as beta doesn’t make a lot of sense from a tried and true “wont release till its ready” Apple stand point so who know, eh? ; )

  • Eric Morgan

    So wrong. The 4g chip apple is going to use is new and a power saver. They’ve been working on it for 2 years. Put it on the iPad now as a kind of test. The battery is so big if the chip isn’t as efficient as advertised don’t put in the next iPhone. Or modify it. Sorry buddy but LTE is here and growing fast.

    • Sorry but Apple does not make products for the US only. And when they do they make one model for all with some exemptions in the early days.

  • I agree too!

  • I’m a UK subscriber on our AT&T equivalent,O2. And their network, despite being one of the best and most widely available across the country, still doesn’t support EDGE never mind 3G in many, many areas. So LTE is a lonnnnggggg way from being ready and I do not see any reason to stick a high price tag on something that I’ll never get a use of.

  • I don’t get why people don’t want LTE. In Canada with telus and bell you can use your existing data plan and it’s gonna be LTE if you have and LTE device and are in a LTE covered zone. You won’t get charged more. Why people don’t want the option is beyond me. If you’re not gonna use it fine. I do a lot of tethering and use cellular data a lot. LTE with a better processor and probably 1gb ram in the next iPhone would be awesome.

  • Oliver, I think your post would have been accurate if it had been written on Feb. 15, 2011 rather than 2012. Here’s why:

    1: Your claim: LTE isn’t widespread in the U.S.
    This is true, but the spread isn’t as important as the people it covers, and both Verizon and AT&T each cover about 2/3 of the population.
    You also seem to be assuming that the radio won’t also have 3G tech. I think it will, and the phones and tabs will switch automatically to get the best service.

    2: Your claim: Battery life for LTE radios is bad.
    True, it is NOW. But not only are there new radios that are less battery drainers, but Apple has obtained patents on tech that will reduce battery usage, such as turning off the radio when it’s not being used.

    3: Your claim: Apple won’t make one phone for U.S. and another for other countries.
    You mean like they won’t make one phone for AT&T and another for Verizon? 🙂 Sorry, facts prove otherwise.

    Finally, I would point out that Apple is frequently a driver, not a wannabe or a follower. USB was doing nothing until Apple put it on the iMac. The same is true for Firewire, for high def screens, for getting rid of Adobe Flash, for Thunderbolt, etc. LTE wasn’t ready to be driven last year. This year it is. Only when Apple adopts LTE will users start to push carriers to put out LTE faster.

    This will be another technology driven by Apple. Android fanboys will cry, “But we had it first!” They’ll be right…but nobody cares. RIM will ignore it. Microsoft will say, “We’ll have it next year” but won’t have it until late 2014 and it won’t be practical until the middle of 2015.

    No vitriol, Oliver. No need. You’re just way wrong.

    • Anonymous

      apple actually doesn’t make seperate phones for different carriers – the 4S is the same phone across the board, regardless of carriers.

    • Anonymous

      apple actually doesn’t make seperate phones for different carriers – the 4S is the same phone across the board, regardless of carriers.

      • This.

        They got away from the two iPhone approach because it’s a bad one.

        I don’t think I mentioned anything about it not having 3G, either.

        The argument that things will improve, like battery usage due to LTE, actually makes my point. That is how Apple saw 3G, too.

        Either way, I do like the conversation.

  • Anonymous

    I was ready to say you’re wrong but you make a good argument. LTE isnt ready yet.

  • Anonymous

    We happen to have good Verizon LTE coverage in my area. So, I’m eager for an LTE iPhone. But, because the plans from Verizon are capped the utility of LTE is greatly diminished. For now, I’ll stick to my 3G unlimited plan from AT&T.

  • Apple will invest in what the they think the future will be. If they see a future in which LTE dominates, they will adopt it.

    If they think the next step is LTE and that technology is expandable and dynamic enough to last a long time, then they will use it.

    Long story short, I DO NOT agree with you on the the topic of LTE in the iPad. I think Apple WILL add it to the iPad 3.

    And I cite Firewire, and Thunderbolt as perfect examples of Apple adopting future technologies before the market is even ready for them. Just like they are going to do with LTE.

    Because just like in the iPhone 4 and 4S, Apple took existing technology and modified it themselves. (i.e. The wi-fi/3G antenna and the signal switching they developed for better signal and speed on both). For all you know, Apple could have taken the existing LTE technology and solved the battery life issue. How do you know?

    • I don’t know, thats the point of opinion pieces. 🙂

      As for adopting future tech – no USB 3.0, no Blu-Ray. They sometimes wait.

      • There is no USB 3.0 and no Blu-Ray in Mac computers because they saw no future in it.

        They chose Thunderbolt over USB 3.0 and they choose digital HD downloads in iTunes Store over Blu-Ray discs and the royalties they would have to pay Sony to use it.

        Like I said. Either Apple sees a future in the current technology or they develop their own technology by leveraging existing tech and then forces everyone else to adopt it.

        Again, Apple got rid of the CD drive on the Macbook Air and the Mac Mini before the market was ready to stop using CD’s. They saw no future on CD’s. The future they see is in their Mac App Store. Hell, they don’t even have their Operating System on a disk either.

  • Anonymous

    Oliver, you are right.

    I maybe eating crow but who cares.

  • Anonymous

    Great Article … I personally dont care if my ipad 3 or iphone 5 will have LTE built in even though i am in metro detroit where it is available… Though my brother in law bought a droid a while back because he wanted 4G i tease him all the time about how many times he has had to recharge his phone that day… Yes it is a bit faster than 3G but in my opinion it is not worth the battery drain… all my friends with droids there batterys are dead by 4pm BEFORE they get off work and most of them now just keep 4G turned off due to the battery issue…

    I hope that apple makes the Battery life perfect before releasing even though i think they are loosing a few customers that MUST HAVE the battery draining 4G

  • Anonymous

    Oh my God have you lost your mind? How dare you to say this?!

    -.-

  • Francisco Barbieri

    I think you have a point but my guess is that the new iPad will be either 3G AND 4G capable.

  • Francisco Barbieri

    I think you have a point but my guess is that the new iPad will be 3G AND LTE capable.
    It will run according with the type of network you’re in

    Again… that’s my guess

  • I think it really doesn’t matter if it’s 4G radios or not… If Apple can somehow extend the battery, maybe only then it will be usefull without the IPhone dying to soon by just surfing or something… I mean, if Apple could keep the same battery life for iPad 1 and IPad 2, why not make it hold longer on the IPhone?
    And besides, image if you DO have 4G speed on the IPhone, what would you actually do more than just surrfin, checking mail, YouTube clips, Facebook etc? 3G speed can handle that just fine 🙂 And of course, if you do something very Internet demanding, then be my guest…

  • Completely Agree I honestly don’t think we will see LTE 4G until late 2013
    I find it funny how AT&T advertises the iPhone 4S as 4G haha. They need to slap themselves because its not LTE.

  • here’s another way of putting it:
    AT&T (or verizon, i dont remember which one) are limiting the top users who exceed 2GB/month.
    I use 3G on a daily basis and i try to use wifi wherever possible and turn the data off from SBSetting every time i enter home just to be sure.
    yet if i’m not careful I can easily pass 1GB/month. and that’s on 3G.
    and if what they say (that only 5% of the people cross 2GB/month) the 4G/LTE is only useful for them.
    and we all know Apple doesn’t like to specialize their devices for certain people.
    they like everybody to be able to use every feature on all their devices.
    that’s how i see it. no 4G I assume as well.

  • I agree. Its going to be Iphone 5/4s all over again. Everyone getting their hopes up and blaming Apple when everyone they speculated doesn’t appear in the product

  • Anonymous

    The droid razr maxx has a stunning battery life. Hopefully apple will follow up their next iPhone with better battery life.

  • Couldn’t have said it better. Having LTE is giving up battery, potentially thinner products, and I have an unlimited data plan, but i never really use my data. 12 mbps is a lot faster than data will be in the next few years. Unless you’re in the heart of NYC and You’re the only one using it.

  • Well that may be true….(a fair speculation) but I don’t need 4G…I routinely hit about 4 mgbs on my 4S and hit aprox 8 mgbs quite a few times(AT@T 3G))…Who really cares if 4G loads a web page or email pops up only seconds faster than 3G…

    Pro tip: to make a clearer call, use the uncongested Edge network on your iPhone. If your 3G is not working well or little to no bars this might help.

  • Anonymous

    Apple products is not for US residents only. There may other international areas that has LTE coverage bigger than US, or may be not. LTE chip may costly.
    What i more consider is: Why the CDMA version of Iphone/Ipad doesnt have a RUIM card not inject? So we can use it more practical internationally

    • Anonymous

      Because it’s CDMA; it’s instantly a locked phone. I don’t know why that’s the rule, but I’m just the messenger here; don’t shoot me for it. Get the GSM version if you want to be able to use it internationally.

  • The One

    The thing is, LTE has been around in the U.S for over a year now. The biggest carriers in the U.S are using it, and as far as population, that covers the majority of the U.S, with more coverage coming this year. Your argument would indicate that, after a full year of LTE in the U.S, there would be no battery improvement or chipset improvement, and that Apple would let not one, but TWO Iphone and Ipad versions get released without LTE. This is in the light of Android, as a whole, overtaking IOS in the numbers categories. And you think that Apple will be outdone in technology again? I doubt very seriously that that would happen.

  • Joseph Torraca

    Agreed

  • Well, I guess this article just got blown out of the water…lol