Will iPhone 5 Surprise Us With 4G TD-LTE? China Mobile Thinks So [Report]

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China Mobile, the largest carrier in the world, officially partnered with Apple last year.
Image courtesy of The Tenth Dragon on Flickr

Of all the things we expect to see from Apple’s iPhone 5 in the coming months, it isn’t super-speedy LTE capabilities. However, China Mobile says that it has struck a deal with Apple to bring the next-genearation iPhone to its 4G TD-LTE network.

China Mobile is the world’s largest carrier, with over 600 million subscribers. It’s a huge market for the iPhone, but the company is yet to strike a deal with Apple to bring the device to its network. At least that’s what we think. According to Giz-China, however, the deal’s already been done:

China Mobile claims that it has reached an agreement with Apple to bring to bring its 4th generation TD-LTE mobile data connection to the next generation iPhone. The claim isn’t exactly new news as it was originally reported back in May, and doesn’t specify which model of iPhone it will be in, but could hint at the next generation iPhone actually being an iPhone 4S type device, with updated 4G capabilities, rather than a totally new iPhone 5 design.

Of course, there have already been reports that the iPhone 5 will make its way to China Mobile, and that photo of Tim Cook, Apple’s COO, at the China Mobile HQ make them all the more convincing. On top of that, Apple noted during its last quarterly earnings call that China is becoming a key growth driver for the company, and with its device already available through China Unicom, who better to go for next than China Mobile’s 600 million subscribers?

When quizzed by a Wall Street analyst on the possibility of launching the iPhone with China Mobile, Tim Cook said:

Pre-paid or unlocked phones (phones without contract) are very key in China. And very key in a number of emerging markets where credit systems are not as well established as in Western Europe, USA, Japan, etc. The iPhone volume for the first 3 quarters of the fiscal year was up 5X year over year. We are not saying at all how to play perfectly in the environment. We have more to do and more to learn. We feel very good about our progress. We are taking those learnings and applying them to other markets as well.”

While I’ll agree that taking the iPhone to China Mobile would be a no-brainer for Apple, I’m still not convinced the iPhone 5 will have 4G capabilities. What do you think?

[via 9to5 Mac]