Aug 162011

Yesterday we had reported that Apple has already started testing 4G LTE-enabled iPhone with carriers.

Engadget has just reported that they’ve received a photo, which reveals that AT&T has recently installed LTE network equipment in one of the Apple Retail stores.

Engadget reports:

Now we’ve received the image you see below, which shows some 4G LTE equipment that was recently installed in a major Apple store — by AT&T, according to our source. Making things somewhat more interesting is the equipment itself, one piece of which supports only the 700MHz and AWS bands — both of which AT&T plans to use for its LTE network if the T-Mobile acquisition goes through.

Engadget goes on to add:

We’re also told that the Apple Store in question, and all those in the region, are now trying to increase staffing on the sales floor by about 30 percent, which is apparently not related to the usual hiring in the lead up to the holidays (that will apparently still happen later). Of course, this could simply be the result of some long-term planning rather than evidence of the next iPhone, but the timing is a bit curious to say the least.

We had mentioned yesterday, according to industry experts it seems highly unlikely that Apple will launch a 4G LTE iPhone this year, as the implementation of LTE networks has not yet matured. AT&T and Verizon are expected to complete the rollout of their 4G LTE network nationwide only by 2013.

Apple executives have also indicated that they’re not willing to take a lot of design compromises, which are enforced by the current-generation 4G LTE chipsets. Chipmakers like Qualcomm, ST Ericcson and Intel are expected to launch the next generation chips towards the end of this year, which are expected to meet Apple’s requirements. So Apple is widely speculated to launch a 4G LTE iPhone in 2012.

But the news of Apple testing an 4G LTE iPhone with carriers and AT&T installing LTE network equipment in Apple’s Retail stores is resulting in speculations that iPhone 5 may support 4G LTE network.

Do you think Apple will surprise us by launching a 4G LTE iPhone 5?

[via Engadget]

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