Apple's new iPhones support 17 LTE bands, including TD-LTE
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is positioning its two newest smartphones for sales in developed as well as developing markets with support for 14 FDD LTE bands as well as three TD-LTE bands.
The low-end iPhone 5C and the high-end iPhone 5S both support more LTE bands "than any other smartphone in the world" and offer download speeds of up to 100 Mbps, said the company.
According to Apple's spec lists for the new models, the FDD LTE bands supported are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25 and 26, though the combinations vary by market. Model A1529 of the 5C and model A1530 of the 5S also support TD-LTE in bands 38, 39 and 40 and will be carried by operators in Australia, Hong Kong, South Korea, New Zealand and Singapore.
Apple also announced that Japan's NTT DoCoMo will finally carry the iPhone, offering both new models on Sept. 20.
A much-rumored iPhone tie-up with China Mobile was not announced. Reuters reported that Apple would host a media event in Beijing just nine hours after its Cupertino, Calif., launch, spurring speculation the vendor would disclose a distribution agreement with China Mobile. However, such an announcement did not occur. Both the iPhone 5C and 5S are being released in versions for China Mobile's smaller competitors China Unicom and China Telecom.
Although Apple's initial spec lists show support for TD-LTE, they do not reveal support for TD-LTE in band 41, which lies in 2.5 GHz spectrum and will be used for commercial TD-LTE service by both China Mobile and Sprint (NYSE:S). The lists also did not show support for the TD-SCDMA 3G standard used by China Mobile.
Both of Apple's new iPhones include dual-band 2.4 GHz/5GHz support for 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi but no support for the new high-speed 5 GHz 802.11ac standard. They also include Bluetooth 4.0.
Apple said the smartphones deliver 10 hours of talk time on 3G networks and up to 10 hours of web browsing on Wi-Fi and LTE networks and up to 8 hours on 3G networks.
Offering two distinct models of the iPhone represents a shift in strategy for Apple's longstanding iPhone business model of "one device fits all segments," said Malik Saadi, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.
Saadi noted a less expensive, LTE-enabled iPhone will enable mobile operators with nascent or soon-to-launch LTE networks "to offer an LTE iPhone to their subscribers at a relatively affordable price" and will help extend LTE services to the mass market.
U.S. carriers offering both the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S include the top four U.S. Tier 1 operators, AT&T (NYSE:T), Sprint, T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS), Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ). Both devices will be available in the United States, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the United Kingdom on Sept. 20.
Saadi said that going forward Apple will likely need to create more variants specifically designed for the mass market or even regions depending on local requirements. "These variants should come with additional differentiators both at the industrial-design and reference-design levels," he said.
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Article updated Sept. 11, 2013, to reflect results from Apple's event in China.