Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is considering the launch of its next generation iPhone, unofficially dubbed the “iPhone 5S,” with the new LTE Advanced, or LTE-A, network in South Korea, a new report said, adding that the new handset could be unveiled in coming months.
After closing a deal with Samsung last week (KRX:005930), SK Telecom (NYSE:SKM), a South Korean wireless telecommunications operator, is now reported to be in talks with Apple, which may offer an LTE-A variant of its next handset iteration, iDownloadBlog reported on Monday, citing The Korea Times.
“SK Telecom is approaching Apple to put our LTE-A technology on the upcoming iPhone 5S. We are in the middle of negotiations,” a SK Telecom executive, who preferred not to be named, told the Korean publication. “There’s no reason for Apple not to use the LTE-A technology.”
SK Telecom announced on Wednesday that it had become the world’s first network provider to launch the faster LTE-A wireless network in the country. And, what makes the announcement more interesting is the company's collaboration with Samsung, which said that its latest Galaxy S4 would be the very first smartphone to receive the LTE-A treatment, and would be released this summer, starting in Korea.
According to The Korea Times, South Korea has recently seen a huge demand for devices that support high-speed networks, explaining why “Apple intends to use Korea as the litmus test to gauge the marketability of LTE-A technology before making inroads into China.”
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Apple’s existing iPhone 5 supports the so-called "multi-carrier telecom technology." The handset is capable of combining two radio channels into one and supports different flavors of 3G all the way up to DC-HSDPA, together with major LTE revisions. But, the LTE-A has a feature of LTE carrier aggregation, or CA, which allows mobile operators to merge radio channels within and across bands to increase network speeds.
Although the current LTE-enabled mobile devices support multiple LTE radio channels, they can only download on one channel at a time, while CA allows simultaneous download on two or more LTE radio channels.
According to the unidentified SK Telecom executive, Apple could use Qualcomm technology to incorporate all these LTE-A capabilities into the iPhone 5S -- an unlikely move for a company such as Apple, which prefers to use processors designed in-house.
“Thanks to the Qualcomm technology, Apple can release i-devices globally without the time gap. This is a win-win strategy. With the help of Apple, SK Telecom can take a lead in the race for LTE-A devices and Apple can seek breakthroughs in its stalling phone business,” the executive told The Korea Times.
Regardless of the processor that eventually powers the Apple iPhone 5S, if the smartphone comes with the faster LTE-A network support, users will be able to enjoy ultra-fast network speed of up to 150 Mbps, which is 10 times faster than the 3G network.
Apple is expected to release the iPhone 5S later this year -- between September and October.