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LTE iPhone 5 coming this fall?

Don't hold your 4G breath

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If you're jonesing for a 4G LTE iPhone 5, you may only have to wait until this fall – and move to the United Arab Emirates. Or not.

"Yes, we are in talks with most smartphone manufacturers including Apple on the rollout of the 4G handset, iPhone 5 later this year," UAE wireless carrier Etisalat spokesman Ali Al Ahmad told GulfNews.com."

Although Al Ahmad's statement clearly refers to the iPhone 5 as being a "4G handset", his follow-up statement was a bit more muddy: "As the first telecom organisation to roll out the 4G network, LTE, in the Middle East," he said, "we have already started talking to them for the handsets and chipsets in them."

Well, one would certainly hope that Etisalat would be talking with Apple about handsets and chipsets, but what Apple might be telling them could very well be: "GSM or CDMA – your call."

After all, recent rumors have moved the LTE iPhone 5 launch into 2012 due to yield problems experienced by Qualcomm, supplier of LTE chips. Etisalat's LTE network is scheduled to light up in the third quarter of this year.

According to the market-watchers at DigiTimes who spoke with anonymous industry sources, "Apple is likely to delay the launch of its LTE-enabled iPhones to 2012, said the sources, noting that the industry had also long been skeptical about the launch of LTE iPhones in 2011 as the implementation of LTE networks has not yet matured."

Also tossing cold water on Al Ahmad's comment is a statement made earlier this year by Sam Greenholtz, and analyst at Telecom Pragmatics, who told The Street in February that he had spoken with the ever-loquacious "people close to the matter", who told him that an LTE iPhone was "aimed for a June/July launch next year."

And recall that Apple COO and Steve Jobs stand-in Tim Cook said during the company's Q2-financials conference call in April that "the first generation of LTE chipsets forced a lot of design compromises with the handset, and some of those we are just not we are just not willing to make."

We suggest reading two possible meanings into "design compromises": battery life and cost of parts. Apple would most certainly not want to take the marketing hit that lower battery life would deal them, and neither would it be happy to tighten its margins by paying more for LTE chipsets.

That said, we are merely speculating – as is par for the course when dealing with matters Cupertinian. Al Ahmad may be spilling actual LTE beans, he may simply be in error, or he may be angling for some worldwide ink for Etisalat.

If it's the latter, good on ya, Ali – you succeeded. ®

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