Asian Carrier’s Downplaying of LTE iPhone 5 Is Questionable

A statement from an Asian mobile carrier recent put into question whether the iPHone 5 will turn out to be LTE after all. But are the statements made by NTT DOCOMO really trustworthy?

There’s no denying that 2012 has become the assumed destination year for the first LTE iPhone.

Given the rise in popularity of 4G LTE Android smartphones, as well as Sprint’s interestingly-placed LTE-heavy press conference during the week of the iPhone 4S announcement, all suggests that Cupertino is hard at work at making the iPhone 5 its first LTE smartphone.

In a recent report, however, 9to5Mac has raised the level of doubt of an iPhone 5 LTE model, based on a statement it published from NTT DOCOMO, an Asian-based mobile carrier who has reportedly been in serious talks with Apple to carry both the iPhone and iPad. Expectations for the next iPhone to be LTE-ready ramped up when a Nikkei Business story ran with the title: “NTT DOCOMO releases iPad for LTE in the summer of next year and releases iPhone for LTE by autumn.”

NTT DOCOMO, however, moved quickly to downplay this article and expectation, and relayed to 9to5Mac, “Thank you for using the services and products of NTT DoCoMo Group. Today, there have been news that our company will start handling/servicing/manage iPhone and iPad, but at the present day we do not have a basic agreement with Apple Inc. Furthermore, at the present time, we don’t even have any concrete/specific/tangible negotiation with Apple Inc. regarding the service/management/handling of iPhone and iPad.”

9to5Mac has coupled this statement by adding, “Despite the rumor-mill insisting that Apple was readying a 4G LTE iPhone, the company’s management downplayed the fourth-generation Long Term Evolution radio technology because the current crop of 4G LTE chips are not fully optimized for low power consumption on mobile devices,” citing comments from Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer.

But these comments were were made on an earnings call in April of 2011.

To me, what all of this adds up to is essentially the opposite of what the tech media is reporting; rather than seeing NTT DOCOMO’s recent press release and Oppenheimer’s 8+ month-old comments about the difficulties of implementing 4G technology, I would say that there is a sense of Apple and its prospective partners ensuring that expectations for a 4G LTE iPhone 5 are kept at a minimum.

NTT DOCOMO, after all, is playing its position similarly to how Sprint and Verizon did in the lead-up to them getting the iPhone 4S and 4, respectively. For all of the denials made by U.S. carriers, the rumors turned out to be true. Similarly, the fact that NTT DOCOMO is moving to quash expectations of them picking up the iPhone 5 — and that it will be 4G LTE — is so emphatic that it seems to prove the opposite.

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