4G LTE iPhone in 2012: “iPhone 4GS” Instead of “iPhone 5″ (Or 6)?

4G LTE is among some of the most anticipated new features for the 2012 iPhone 5. But would Apple consider calling its next iPhone “iPhone 4GS” to promote its LTE  capabilities, much like it did with the iPhone 3G back in 2008?

The early rumor mill fodder for the 2011-2012 season of the iPhone 5 rumor mill is predictable: new form factor, larger screen, and 4G LTE. While the first two new features mill remain in speculation until the iPhone 5 announcement (which I expect to be sooner — such as at the 2012 WWDC — instead of a year from now), 4G LTE might turn out to be easier to predict. We already know what Sprint has told us in their media event: mid 2012 will bring about the rollout of their 4G network, and 15+ new 4G-enabled mobile devices. We wrote an article about it week ago, entitled “Sprint’s New 2012 4G Network Rollout May Hint at LTE iPhone 5,” and now the tech media is following suit.

IBTimes practically plagiarized our entire article recently, entitled “iPhone 5 With 4G LTE: What is Hidden in Sprint’s 2012 4G Network Rollout?” noting that “Reporters were told at the event that it would take two to three years from now for Sprint to fully enable their 4G network, and its first 4G devices will be dual-mode CDMA/LTE devices. The devices will include both tablets and smartphones that are expected to be available in mid 2012. That would also be the time for Apple Inc.’s 2012 WWDC. Sprint is expecting 15 4G-ready devices in the first wave.”

(Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right?)

The perception here is that Sprint is hinting at an iPhone 5 with 4G LTE capabilities, since their all-in investment in the iPhone, together with a huge investment in 4G (which, by the way, they don’t have the capital for yet), leads to the safe assumption that the next iPhone will be 4G LTE-ready.

Assuming that the early speculation turns out to be true, and the 2012 iPhone turns out to be Apple’s first 4G LTE iPhone, it would suggest that we should see Apple make some kind of move to quell AT&T’s claims that the iPhone 4S is in fact “4G.” At present, AT&T has listed the 4S on its website as being 4G with an asterisk, noting that the designation is a result of “HSPA+ with enhanced backhaul.” To my knowledge, AT&T has yet to push this claim any further in the form of television commercials or other advertising collateral. To be sure, Apple will want to get the most out of its marketing effects to boast of 4G LTE technology should the next iPhone have it.

All of this begs a further iPhone naming question: would Apple consider naming the next iPhone 4GS to take full advantage of branding it as the first 4G iPhone?

Boundless arguments for and against this speculation are likely to ensue. On one hand. Apple has branded an iPhone based on a new network technology before: the iPhone 3G. On the other hand, Apple would be hard-pressed to name a third iPhone with a “4″ in its title, especially if it sports a new look and larger screen.

Much will depend on how much of a phenomenon 4G LTE will become over the next four months. The smartphone community still remains divided on its importance in the progression of smartphone technology: some who have experienced its lightning-fast download speeds feel as thought, “once you go 4G, you can never go back.” Others see LTE as having much less of an impact over the mobile computing experience as 3G did: 3G, after all, ushered in a new level of speed for mobile devices, bringing them more in line with the speeds of a home computer. 4G LTE, by contrast, may not resonate with users as being quite as provocative of a speed upgrade.

Time will tell. By the late winter, the mobile networks’ advertising investiture in 4G LTE will give us some tea leaves to read. By then we’ll have a better notion of whether an “iPhone 4GS” could be plausible.



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