iPad 3 To Get LTE First, But It’s Looking More Likely For iPhone 5 As Well

Given the intensity of rumor buzz saying so, it will be a surprise if the iPad 3 (some are saying it will be a 2S) shows up in March without available LTE 4G support. That of course means the iPad will get LTE before the iPhone does, which may seem an odd sequence.

Veteran Apple-watcher and commentator Jason D. O,Grady writing in his “The Apple Core” blog, disputes a Bloomberg report suggesting that one reason for iPad to get the jump on LTE capability is that the iPad’s larger battery is better able to support the faster connectivity protocol’s heftier power demands of LTE. He says that while this sounds logical, he doesn’t think it’s the real reason. More plausible, says O’Grady, is that Apple is waiting for LTE network coverage to catch up to hardware support before adding it to the iPhone’s feature set, although he concedes that the battery life issue could be a contributing factor in Apple’s foot-dragging, since LTE will indeed drain batteries faster, and Apple doesn’t want to risk user dissatisfaction with performance. Remember, Apple had a taste of battery life complaints after the iPhone 4S release last fall, even without 4G. He maintains that Apple can afford to take bigger risks with the iPad 3 by including LTE because it’s not primarily a communications device like the iPhone, with which spotty network support coverage could be a major inconvenience or even a safety issue.

I think Jason O’Grady’s deduction makes sense, although I figure the LTE lag for the iPhone is likely attributable to a constellation of factors and not just one.

LTE smartphones to account for 4-5% global shipments in 2012

Speaking of LTE network availability and coverage, Digitimes’ Daniel Shen and Steve Shen report that with nearly 50 telecom carriers around the globe having launched LTE services, their industry insider moles are predicting that global shipments of LTE-enabled smartphones could to reach 25-30 million units in 2012, which would account for an estimated 4-5% of total handset shipments for the year..

The Shens note that their sources say carriers in the US, Korea and Japan are currently purchasing LTE smartphones mainly from Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Pantech and HTC, as well as a few from Motorola Mobility. However, they report that purchasing patterns are expected to change as the year unfolds and Nokia, Apple, RIM (Blackberry), Sony Mobile, LG Electronics, and China-based ZTE roll out LTE models as well.

They observe that while Android still dominates LTE smartphone space, Nokia and HTC have already launched LTE Windows Phone models, with Apple and RIM expected to release theirs in the second half of 2012. Still, 4-5% market penetration means that 95-96% of handsets sold will not have 4G capability, so hanging back until the infrastructure and engineering are solidly in place makes good sense for a company like Apple that places a high priority on the quality of user experience.

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