iPhone 5 Release Date: LTE Capable iPhone 5 in 2012?

Industry experts project that a 4G LTE capable iPhone will be available by 2012 as major carriers in the United States set up new LTE networks.

Several sources have divulged to Digitimes, a technology website, that Apple is "expected to join the LTE club in 2012." Prior rumors have also speculated that the next-generation iPhone will feature LTE capability.

The recently released iPhone 4S has been advertised as having 4G-like speeds on its GSM network due to an updated HSDPA compatible antenna.

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However, the CDMA network, on which carriers Sprint and Verizon are powered, run at slightly slower speeds.

LTE capability would bring theoretical download speeds of up to 14.4Mbps to all U.S. carriers of the iPhone. Currently, there are approximately 35 LTE networks on-line worldwide.

There are expected to be more than 100 networks by 2012, reaching 290 million people and propelling LTE smartphone sales to over 154 million units, according to Digitimes.

At a quarterly conference call earlier this year, then Chief Operating Officer for Apple, Tim Cook explained that the company has not adopted LTE capability for the iPhone due to a number of issues with the current technology, including poor battery life.

"The first generation of LTE chipsets force a lot of design compromises with the handset, and some of those we are just not willing to make," said Cook.

Cook is Apple’s current CEO.

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