Is This The Next-Gen LTE Chipset That The iPad 3 And iPhone 5 Have Been Waiting For?

Is This The Next-Gen LTE Chipset That The iPad 3 And iPhone 5 Have Been Waiting For?

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been blunt about Cupertino’s plans for adopting LTE: they’d love to, but they’re waiting on next-gen LTE chipsets that aren’t so power-thirsty they’ll turn your iPhone’s battery pack into a desiccated husk within seconds of flipping the 4G radio on.

Well, Qualcomm may have just announced the next-gen LTE chipset that might finally allow Apple to roll out 4G speeds to iDevices in 2012.

The chipset is the Gobi 4000 for 4g LTE and HSPA+ devices, and it’s also backwards compatible with HSPA and EV-DO. The chips are based on Qualcomm’s MDM9600 and MDM 9200 3G/4G wireless partners. Devices coming up that will come with LG’s LTE chipset includes future Lenovo ThinkPads and Dell’s Latitude laptops.

But what about Apple, who has been leaning towards Qualcomm Gobi chips for the last year? While the press release obviously doesn’t mention Apple by name, we’d say it’s very possible that the Gobi 4000 LTE chipset is going to make its way into Apple’s devices next year, starting with the iPad 3.

Why the iPad 3? A few reasons.

One, Apple’s already been seen testing LTE iPads in the wild as recently as August.

Second, even with next-gen chips, LTE is likely to suck up more battery than existing 3G chipsets. As far as sheer battery volume is concerned, the iPad has more of it to spare than the iPhone, making it a great test platform.

Finally, the iPad’s pricing structure already attaches a $130 premium to the price of any 3G iPad. Apple could price 4G iPads with a similar premium.

If you think about it, Apple’s going to have a lot of problem rolling out LTE in the next year. The only network who is really ready for LTE is Verizon, with AT&T and now Sprint now scrambling to catch up. Releasing an iPhone with LTE first guarantees that these still weak networks will be absolutely crushed. But if Apple releases iPads with LTE first and prices the LTE models with a premium, Cupertino can test out LTE’s affects on the networks and their devices’ battery life on a manageable number of tablets… all while raking in money hand-over-first.

What do you think? iPad 3 w/ Wi-Fi + 3G + LTE in 2012? Let us know in the comments.

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  • Yankees1

    AT&T better catch up or they’re gonna have a lot of unhappy customers.

  • Abu Tech

    not until 2013 at the earliest for LTE iOS devices.

  • milanyc

    No it’s not. It’s the same 45nm silicon, power hungry, definitely not optimized for handset devices. Used in HTC Thunderbolt, battery lasts a couple of hours…
    Wait for the 2nd generation 28nm silicon coming from Qualcomm in Q2 2012. MDM9615.

  • Martin KK

    i dont think so. The iPad is most often used in a wi-fi environment, making 4G a curiosity. I think Apple needs 4G in 1H2012, because Android makers are getting too long a runway. They can voice over the battery effect and take the heat with a bit of “told ya’ if you wanted 4G it would cost some of our incredible battery life.”

    Martin KK

  • James Willliams

    Hey cult of Mac. The iPhone 5 just came out.

  • djgrahamj

    “The only network who is really ready for LTE is Verizon”

    Actually Bell and Rogers have LTE, too.

  • Guest

    Not until 2013, when the iPhone 5S comes out.  That S is for LTE Speed ;)

  • Brandon Dillon

    Like they don’t already?

  • GatorTPK

    On my iPhone 4S, I get 6.2 Mbps down and 2.1 Mbps up on my AT&T network. It is still the fastest than any cellphone speed (3G or 4G LTE) I’ve seen.  I suspect that’ll change later this year in 2012, but my 3G is still the fastest I’ve seen (I’m sure 4G LTE is faster in other locations).  Metro PCS (the first 4G LTE carrier in Sept, 2010) on 4G LTE was still about one tenth (to 1/40) as fast.  It really gets around ~200 Kpbs down and 400 Kpbs up most of the time (I know, backwards asymmetry).  My iPhone in the store (MetroPCS Store) was slow at that location with 2,138 Kbps down and 854 up.
    The MetroPCS rep was asking why Apple didn’t do 4G in the iPhone 4S, I replied, “because 4G isn’t up to par and too power hungry still”, looks like I was right! 

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his girlfriend and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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