Analyst: iPhone '4S' possible, but with no 4G

Analyst report says expectations for Apple's next iPhone should be tempered, with the future device lacking a 4G LTE chipset, though ending up on more carriers than it's currently offered.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
3 min read

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If you had your heart set on an iPhone with 4G LTE, the yet-to-be-announced iPhone 5 might not be for you. The good news is that the next version is still set to get a few enhancements and end up on more carriers.

That's according to a research note by Jefferies & Company analyst Peter Misek, picked up by Forbes, which claims Apple's next iPhone won't sport LTE hardware from Qualcomm because the chipmaker "is currently not achieving yields sufficient for inclusion in the iPhone 5."

So what's destined to be different about the next device? Misek says the update will be akin to what Apple did between the iPhone 3G and the 3GS, boosting processor speeds and camera quality. Misek even goes so far as to call the device the "iPhone 4S."

"According to our industry checks, the device should be called iPhone 4S and include minor cosmetic changes, better cameras, A5 dual-core processor, and HSPA+ support," Misek wrote. HSPA+ being the standard that has a theoretical download speed of 21 Mbps, up from the 7.2 Mbps HSDPA/HSUPA 3G hardware that ships in the iPhone 4.

As for the 4G LTE issue, during the company's most recent earnings call, Apple COO Tim Cook fielded an analyst question about the maturity of LTE chipsets, saying first-generation LTE chipsets "forced a lot of design compromises," and that "some of those we are just not willing to make." That answer did not rule out a chip ending up in a future product. Our look at where the 4G LTE world was near the end of last month showed that some of the first integrated chipsets weren't expected to be arriving until 2012.

There is some silver lining, which is that this next iPhone should be available on more carriers, according to Misek. That includes Sprint and T-Mobile by the end of the year in the U.S., and possibly China Mobile after that. If Sprint and T-Mobile were added, that would finally bring the iPhone onto all four major U.S. carriers. AT&T, of course, announced plans to buy T-Mobile USA, pending regulatory hurdles. There have also been signs that T-Mobile USA is already testing the iPhone 4, lending more credence to an iPhone landing there.

The report is also reminiscent of one from 9to5mac last month, which said that Apple's testing a version of the iPhone that looked just like the iPhone 4, but with an A5 chip, the dual-core processor that can be found inside the iPad 2. That testing was said to be done with game developers, who were being given an early shot to test and develop games with the extra processing power.

Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 4's successor later this year. Several reports, including Misek's, say it will be sometime in September, the month in which Apple has historically unveiled its latest generation of iPods. The next announced Apple event is the Worldwide Developers Conference, which is now less than a month away. There, Apple has said it will show off "the future" of iOS and Mac OS X.