Apple will not release iPhone 5 until 4G LTE technology is ready for the device, say analyst Will Strauss, the president of wireless chip market research firm Forward Concepts who tracks companies like Qualcomm. He claims that the company is saving iPhone 5 for the LTE version and that won’t be out until spring 2012. It is not an appropriate time for the iPhone 5 to take the leap to 4G LTE technology, Strauss said.

Straus argues with reference to HTC thunderbolt which encompasses an LTE baseband modem chip and a Qualcomm based 3G chip for the voice functions and takes up too much space around circuit board. Since Apple is looking to make the device lighter and compact, it is getting difficult for cupertino brains to place an extra chip on smaller chassis to enable LTE without shrinking the size of the battery or increasing the thickness of the iPhone, wrote Anand Shimpi, a chip expert and CEO of Anandtech.

The iPhone 4 PCB is already incredibly small, not leaving any room for an extra chip to enable LTE without shrinking the size of the battery (or increasing the thickness of the phone to accomodate both a larger PCB and a big battery). Today, Qualcomm is a leading provider of LTE baseband silicon and unfortunately they don’t ship any baseband hardware that supports both LTE and voice (over 1x/WCDMA) without extra silicon. In order to support both you need to be using something Qualcomm calls SoC Fusion. By leveraging a Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC in combination with Qualcomm’s MDM9600 LTE modem you can deliver both voice and LTE data. Otherwise the MDM9600 is only good for data, which is admittedly useful in things like USB modems or MiFis. Apple obviously doesn’t use Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs so enabling LTE on the iPhone isn’t possible using Qualcomm baseband unless you make the phone’s PCB larger (which Apple obviously wasn’t going to do). Note that no one else seems to deliver a single chip LTE + 1x/WCDMA voice solution either, so this isn’t just a Qualcomm limitation.

LTE Roadmap

The report adds that the Qualcomm chip “MDM9615″, which is smaller in size and is voice enabled could make its way into next generation iPhone 5 (including Android based smartphones). Apple could replace the MDM6600 with the MDM9615 and have a “single chip” LTE solution for its iPhone product line. The company ‘Qualcomm’ is using more advanced manufacturing process (28nm process) for MDM9615 production which might help in improving the battery performance. The chip package will likely arrive in the 2Q2012. “Phones based on the MDM9615 will likely increase LTE battery life to reasonable levels rather than what we’ve seen from the first generation of devices”. , added Anand.

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