Rumor: iPhone 5 Supports HSPA+ 4G Technology

As a result of Apple’s announcement of a new iPhone less than one week before, China Unicom has revealed during a presentation at Macworld Asia that the iPhone 5 will support HSPA+ networks.

According to PC Watch, Japanese IT news website, Research Vice President of China Unicom, Huan Wenliang, stated at keynote speech that iPhone 5 will support W-CDMA based high-speed data transfer standard HSPA Evolution “HSPA+.”

In U.S., AT&T has theoretically switched on to LTE 4G only in five US cities this month; Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas-Ft.Worth, Houston, and San Antonio. However, the HSPA+ network covers most of the American hefty population centers providing three times higher theoretical data speed than the current HSPA 3G network of up to 21 Mbps.

Although T-Mobile, AT&T, and now many other carriers market HSPA + as a 4G in order to compete with real 4G networks like Verizon LTE, it actually is a 3.5G technology.

Carriers Testing LTE-Enabled iPhone?

BGR reports that Apple seems to be testing a 4G LTE-enabled iPhone with carriers, as confirmed by a special internal carrier test build of iOS carrying a property list file for LTE compatibility.

While we can’t authenticate that the forthcoming fifth-generation iPhone will be able to support 4G LTE, we can now exclusively confirm that iPhone models with LTE capability are being tested by Apple’s carrier partners. BGR has gotten hold of evidence of an internal iOS test build from one of Apple’s key carrier partners, and buried in the firmware is a property list for LTE.

The iPhone 5 is likely to support HSPA+ technology for GSM networks, which is being marketed by many carriers as “4G”, but carriers are also commencing their rollouts of 4G LTE networks that will bring even quicker data speeds. Apple has pointed out, however, that it has been averse to adopt LTE technology so far due to a lack of suitable chipsets, with size, power and other issues forcing design compromises that Apple has been denying to make.

iPhone 5 Probable To Support AT&T ‘4G’, Widening Speed Gap Over Verizon

Reports claim that the fifth-generation iPhone due this fall will in reality support HSPA+ technology, a development that will allow the device to offer faster data speeds on GSM networks like AT&T. In spite of the fact that HSPA+ is slower than the LTE standard being rolled out by major carriers, AT&T has already begun marketing its HSPA+ network as “4G”, which means that the carrier could position the upcoming iPhone as a 4G device regardless of it failing to offer LTE compatibility.


HSPA+ iPhone will have significant implications in the United States, where Apple currently offers a separate CDMA iPhone running on Verizon. Even with both present models of the iPhone 4 limited to 3G networks, AT&T’s HSPA data network is already faster than Verizon’s EVDO data network. 

That difference will grow even bigger with the next iPhone as AT&T users will be able to experience download speeds in the range of 5-10 Mbps because of HSPA+ while users on Verizon will remain trapped on the carrier’s current 3G network running in the neighborhood of 1 Mbps.