Rumor: Carriers testing 4G LTE iPhones

BGR uncovered evidence of at least one carrier running LTE tests. Could this be a sign that a 4G iPhone 5 is imminent?

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read

A 4G LTE iPhone is coming. That's the conclusion drawn by Boy Genius Report, which reported this morning that at least one carrier is testing iPhone models with 4G LTE capabilities.

BGR says it has "obtained evidence of an internal iOS test build from one of Apple's major carrier partners, and buried in the firmware is a property list (.plist file) for LTE."

Evidence of a 4G LTE iPhone?
Evidence of a 4G LTE iPhone? Boy Genius Report

Which partner? BGR doesn't say, but the smart money's on Verizon, the only current iPhone carrier with an active LTE network. (As CNET's Scott Webster reported a few days ago, AT&T won't start rolling out LTE until later this year--and then only in select markets.)

So, how does this fit into all the iPhone 5 rumors we've been hearing lately? For starters, just because a carrier is testing an LTE-equipped iPhone doesn't mean Apple will announce one next month. In fact, I'd say it's a no-brainer that such tests are under way with all 4G networks: HSPA+, WiMax, and LTE.

On the other hand, if the rumored iPhone 4S is real, it could prove to be an LTE-powered model from Verizon. That strikes me as more likely than a "true" 4G iPhone 5, which many analysts have ruled out at this point. I can envision an iPhone 4S from Verizon, a 3G iPhone 5 from AT&T (and possibly Verizon as well), and then an iPhone 5S from Verizon early in 2012.

All this is mere speculation, of course. I think the bigger question is this: how important is 4G to you? Is it a make-or-break feature in your decision to buy an iPhone 5?

Personally, I can live without it. I spend most of my time connected to Wi-Fi networks, and when I'm out and about, I usually find AT&T's 3G network sufficient for my connectivity needs. Also, I'm not wild about the potential hit on battery life.

Let's hear your thoughts in the comments!