With the next generation iPhone 5 on its way from Apple, enthusiasts and analysts are looking to glean any clues as to what will be packed into the anticipated phone.

With regards to a few important aspects, clues have come from a surprising source -- Apple rival HTC with its Thunderbolt 4G phone.

With its fast 4G advantage, the phone sports the highest component costs of any other smartphone, and even rivals some tablets.

But it's that same 4G technology that allows industry watchers to understand some of the challenges that Apple is facing as it builds out its iPhone 5.

The 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless chips required for the faster speeds in the Thunderbolt cost an extra $39.75, according to industry researcher IHS.

This presents a problem for Apple, which observers believe is mulling adding the capability to its forthcoming iPhone 5.

There are some options.

Apple could forgo 4G technology all together. Indeed some analysts have predicted just as much, given the current chips are relatively new technology that haven't been 100 percent proven.

The company has already dropped hints, saying at a Verizon press conference in January that it will be conservative with the implementation of LTE, primarily because of battery and other concerns that didn't meet Apple's demands.

On the other hand, there are already three models of LTE phones on the market from competitors Samsung, and LG, as well as HTC's Thunderbolt.

To combat, Apple would certainly need a 4G offering, but would need to make some sacrifices given the size and cost of the chip.

First, the iPhone's minuscule printed circuit board (PCB) will have to grow in size in order to support the first-generation LTE baseband processor as well as all the supporting chipset, explained firms senior analyst, Wayne Lam.

Second, the next iPhone's BOM value certainly will increase substantially compared to the iPhone 4 if LTE is implemented in the same manner as in the HTC Thunderbolt.

The current iPhone 4  costs $171.35 to make, meaning the addition would run costs up to roughly $211 per unit, cutting down on Apple's margins, which could be passed on to the consumer.

But seeing that Apple executives have publically complained about the poor designs of current LTE chips, Apple could opt to use someone else entirely.

Enter the Qualcomm's SnapDragon MSM8960. The chip is the newer version to the 4G chip in the Thunderbolt, and features a number of advantages over standard 4G implementations.

It combines LTE, the EVDO standard for existing CDMA networks, and the GSM standard used at AT&T, in one chip, allowing Apple to sell one iPhone 5 that can run on multiple networks.

Currently it sells one for AT&T and one for Verizon.

Given the iPhone 5 is expected to ship a lot more units than HTC's Thunderbolt, Apple has the advantage of pushing down prices even more.

I would imagine the caveat would have to be added that strict cost of components may vary between Apple and HTC, given Apple's purchasing power in the semiconductor market, Lam says.

The iPhone 5 is expected in Q4 this year. 

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