It came as a bit of a surprise when Apple announced that the new iPad would come equipped with 4G LTE technology. The reports leading up the the announcement were indecisive, but ultimately we got our answer in the form of snappy 4G networking.
I had briefly alluded to the problem that building 4G LTE into the new iPad might cause, in my piece outlining what we could expect at the then-forthcoming iPad announcement. That problem involves consumer expectations, and how Apple might handle them.
For most, the inclusion of 4G LTE in the new iPad would indicate that later this year the new iPhone would receive the same upgrade. After all, 4G rumors have been surrounding the iPhone for a couple of years now.
That is where the possible problem lies. I really don’t mean to make a sensationalist story out of this, but the pent up hype of a 4G iPhone, and the inclusion of 4G in the new iPad, may set up expectations that the (presumably) forthcoming iPhone update (holiday season I think) will have 4G built in. The problem is, it is questionable as to whether 4G technology will be small enough and energy efficient enough to fit into a device the size of an iPhone.
I think the technology will be small enough, and I think Apple knows that the 4G iPad sets up that expectation. But, with as little as we currently know about the next-generation iPhone,it is just as likely that 4G will not be included. As we move into fall, we will undoubtedly know more
If it turns out that Apple does not include 4G in the next iPhone, I think we will see a lot of disappointment from both the press and the general public. The press would be more vocal, as they always are. Sensationalism seems to be the trend these days.
The public’s reaction is something that Apple will have to either brace for, or hope turns out better than what reality will likely hold. So, the easiest way, I believe, for Apple to get out of this, is to include 4G.
If 4G LTE is as energy-inefficient as was last reported, battery life on the iPhone will suffer– a concession I cannot see Apple making. That is, unless Apple has some magic battery technology up their sleeves. I doubt this, because, to get the same battery life out of the new iPad as Apple did with the iPad 2, they had to increase the battery size by 70%. This casts doubt on a iPhone at a similar size as the current iPhone.
As suggested by our own Patrick Jordan, Apple will likely need a bigger battery to power 4G, and this may be when they decide to increase the screen size, and the overall size of the device itself, with the inclusion of a bigger battery that would allow for the 4G connectivity. It sounds messy, but it might be Apple’s excuse to build a bigger iPhone. I doubt this scenario, but it’s within the realm of possibility.
In short, I think the new iPad’s inclusion of 4G LTE has setup an expectation that the new iPhone coming later this year, will have 4G as well. With that said, there are three scenarios: the new iPhone maintains the same form-factor, battery life, and magically receives 4G connectivity– Apple’s engineers would have to be wizards.
The next scenario would involve a larger iPhone, in one or more dimension, to house a bigger battery that would maintain similar battery life to the current iPhone. This could mean a larger screen size is on the way. The last scenario is one in which the new iPhone simply does not have 4G connectivity, and Apple handles consumer expectations accordingly.
It seems that Apple has a bit of a marketing challenge in front of them. Or maybe my assumption on the state of 4G technology is incorrect– I’m not an engineer by any stretch of the imagination. This very well may be a non-issue. My gut tells me Apple will pull it off and include 4G LTE without making the device bigger. Perhaps that’s just wishful thinking.
Think I’m wrong? Have your own thoughts you would like to add? We’d love to hear what you think about this. Leave a comment below!