The iPhone 5 splashed down this week with support for 4G LTE fast mobile broadband data connections as one of its main new features, just ahead of planned launch of the UK’s first 4G network from EE (Everything Everywhere).
The iPhone 5 handsets will be compatible with most of the commonly used 4G LTE frequency bands but, crucially, they won’t yet work with all of them.
Apple got into regulatory trouble for touting this year’s iPad as 4G compatible and then marketing it in territories such as Australia where it wouldn’t work on local 4G networks.
The company has been better prepared with the iPhone 5 and carefully explains what the different hardware variations of the handset are capable of in terms of LTE reception.
On the iPhone 5’s tech specs page next to Cellular and Wireless, Apple currently lists three variations: the A1428 is a GSM model, while A1429 is available as a GSM or CDMA version. The first is also compatible with LTE bands 4 and 17, while the others cover LTE bands 1, 3, 5, 13 and 25.
Buried down the bottom of the page is a link to this handy page, which explains in more plain English what works where.
The Next Web has pored over these details. The good news is that between them, the iPhone 5 models support a number of LTE networks in the USA, Canada, Japan, Germany, the UK, Australia, Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore.
The bad news is that LTE support in the next set countries due to get the iPhone 5 from the end of September is patchy at best. They include most of western Europe.
Scandinavia is particularly problematic, as its 4G networks run on LTE band 7, which is not yet supported by the iPhone 5, while emerging markets such as Russia and Brazil may use band 38.
Many European countries do not yet have a working 4G LTE service, but when they do, which is likely in the next year or so, they will operate on frequencies not currently covered by the iPhone 5.
This could also affect the new 4G services in the 800MHz (band 20) and 2.6GHz (band 7) frequencies that will start in the UK later in 2013. The imminent EE 4G service will operate in the 1800MHz (or band 3) frequencies, for which the iPhone 5 is already compatible.
Therefore, British iPhone 5 users under contract with other operators, such as O2 and Vodafone, could be frozen out from being able to use 4G unless Apple makes new versions of the handset when the time comes. This would also benefit people who travel frequently around Europe.
As TNW notes, “Considering that Apple is steam-rolling ahead with a rapid international release schedule to hit 100 countries and 240 carriers by the end of this year, the confusion between compatible and incompatible LTE networks is likely going to be a growing issue for consumers.”
Via The Next Web