In the “we know it’s true because it’s been taken down” department, an anonymous Engadget tipster sent in a photo which showed 4G LTE equipment that was installed in a ‘major’ Apple Store, apparently by AT&T. The photo was subsequently removed at the request of said tipster.
It’s a curious device to be setting up in an Apple Store. What is it for? Electronista speculates that its size “suggests it may be fixed wireless equipment to bring in 4G data,” although why Apple would need to do that is not clear. More intriguing is the possibility that the equipment is there to create or simulate a 4G LTE network within the store.
If that is indeed the case, it could mean that a 4G LTE device is closer than we think, but it would be a big surprise. Although just this week it was rumored that carriers were given 4G LTE devices for testing, most are not expecting the next iPhone to have 4G capability, but subsequent releases are more likely to include the next generation wireless technology. However, 4G LTE networks are still not everywhere yet, so perhaps having one in the store gives potential customers the ability to test out 4G?
I’m not buying that theory. Did you buy an iPhone 4 based on its 3G network performance? Did you try out the phone’s data speeds before buying it? Not likely. 3G was probably just a check box in your criteria. “Does it have 3G? Oh, yes it does. Check, moving on.” You didn’t say, “Well, I like it, but I want to see how fast it updates Twitter over 3G before I buy it.” There’s no need for a 4G LTE network in the store in order for me to want to buy an iPhone 5.
Here’s a question for you more technically inclined readers out there: Does a theoretical 4G iPhone 5 require access to a 4G network for activation? Because then I could see why this might be necessary, if there’s not widespread coverage of 4G, you’d need a local setup in order to get on the network for activation in store, if that was the case.
While I’m still doubtful that this iteration of the iPhone will have 4G, I’d happily be proven wrong. Bring it on, Apple!