Apple has reportedly been negotiating with two mobile carriers in Korea to provide the iPhone 5 through their LTE networks, according to CNET. Officials from SK Telecom and KT allegedly revealed this information to the Korea Times.
"KT is in negotiation with Apple to persuade the latter to support KT's 1.8-gigahertz frequency in Korea for the upcoming iPhone," a senior KT executive said to Korea Times. A KT spokesperson declined to comment.
CNET has contacted Apple for more information on the matter and is waiting for a response.
Both of these carriers are authorized Apple partners selling the iPhone in Korea, and these companies want Apple to utilize their LTE networks. However, supporting 4G LTE is more of a challenge than working with a 3G network since different LTE networks around the world use their own frequencies, as CNET acknowledges.
In the United States, both Verizon and AT&T use 700MHz frequency, and AT&T also uses 2.1GHz. The Korean carriers SK and KT use different frequencies, which could push Apple to launch iPhone models with separate LTE modems to support varying frequencies. This is why the Korean variant of Apple's newest iPad doesn't come with LTE support.
But that doesn't mean LTE service isn't rapidly growing in Korea. At the end of July, the number of Korean LTE subscribers hit the 8.4 million mark and is expected to double that number by the end of 2012, The Korea Times reported. SK reached 4 million subscribers last month, only 44 days after it had achieved the 3 million milestone.
This could add pressure to Apple to produce iPhone 5 models that are compatible with LTE, leaving the Cupertino, Calif.-based company with the decision of whether or not it will be worth the cost and effort.
"If Apple's upcoming iPhone again fails to support LTE bandwidths, then this would be a very disappointing scenario as LTE is everywhere in Korea," an executive from SK Telecom told The Korea Times.
Preparing For The Masses
Apple clearly plans to gear up for mass production of its upcoming products, as its main supplier Foxconn Technology Group has invested up to $10 billion in labor in Indonesia. This would allow the Apple supplier to tap into one of the cheapest labor forces in Asia, as Reuters reported on Wednesday.
Foxconn has faced issues of labor unrest and rising wages in its main factories in China, and has attempted to diversify its production in different Asian markets.
"Foxconn already has factories in China and Brazil, and not yet one in Southeast Asia," Ali Soebroto Oentayo, chairman of Indonesia's electronics association, said to Reuters. "I think Indonesia is a right decision from a market perspective."
The Taiwan-based company plans to begin building a plant in October in an industrial zone near Jakarta to assemble 3 million handsets a year, Reuters reports. Foxconn then plans to increase output later on, Indonesia's Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan said to the news wire service on Tuesday. The investment would be between $5 billion and $10 billion.
Foxconn sparked controversy in recent years for producing iPad and iPhones in factory conditions in China dubbed as sweatshops, resulting in worker deaths and suicides. Apple and Foxconn have since then pledged to improve working conditions for its 1.2 million employees in the country, and raise wages by 16 to 25 percent.
Apple is expected to unveil its next generation iPhone 5 alongside an iPad Mini on Sept. 12, with an alleged release date coming on Sept. 21. The company has yet to officially confirm this, but the rumor originated on Apple news blog iMore who cited "sources who have proven accurate in the past." On Tuesday, iMore also reported that Apple will start taking pre-orders for the iPhone 5 on the same day as the announcement.
Features And Rumors Round Up
The possibility of 4G LTE connectivity seems increasingly likely as CNET has reported, and on Tuesday an Apple patent delved into the mechanics of how Apple plans to create a thinner, sleeker "in cell" display. But what else may appear on the iPhone 5? Below is a list of alleged functions that are expected, although some are unconfirmed by Apple.
- 4-inch display
- Improved quad-core processor, likely manufactured using 32nm process tech
- Improved graphics and a better camera
- New Dock connection, likely to be Thunderbolt or mini-USB
- Tougher glass
- Thinner chassis
- International support for those 4G/LTE networks which exist
- Much-improved iCloud integration
- iOS 6: many improvements in Siri
- iOS 6: Apple Maps
- iOS 6: Passbook, potentially though not necessarily featuring NFC payment support
- iOS 6: Facebook and Twitter integration
- Bigger, thinner front plate
- In-Cell touch panels
- Redesigned speaker grills
- Migrated FaceTime Camera
- Migrated Earphone Jack
- New Camera Opening
- Advanced Haptics
- OLED Display
- Near-Field Communication
- The iWallet
- Apple Avatars
- The Photographer's Timer
- 3D Photography
- 3D Object Recognition
- Multiplayer Gaming
These indications come from discovered patents and words of Apple executives during conference calls and statements that have been reported on. But fans will have to wait until Apple finally decides to unveil its new iPhone to know which functions will make it to the final product. Read more about these features in detail here.