Etisalat claims next-gen iPhone with LTE support on the way, subsequently retracts statement

Mon, Jun 13, 2011

News, Rumors

The United Arab Emirates carrier Etisalat caused quite a stir last week when it relayed a quote from its Chief Corporate Communications Officer, Ali Al Ahmad, indicating that the next-gen iPhone will support LTE.

“Yes, we are in talks with most smartphone manufacturers including Apple on the rollout of the 4G handset, iPhone 5 later this year,” Ahmad explained. “As the first telecom organization to roll out the 4G network, LTE, in the Middle East, we have already started talking to them for the handsets and chipsets in them.”

Interesting, right?

Sure, but more than a little bit curious at the same time.

Remember that Steve Jobs, rumor has it, isn’t high on LTE just yet and has no intention of using a new Apple iPhone as a “guinea pig” for an unproven network that isn’t as widespread as carriers would have you believe. Also, remember that Apple has no problem waiting to hop on board the latest technology bandwagon like it did when it waited until the second-gen iPhone to support 3G.

Moreover, Apple COO and acting CEO Tim Cook has explicitly said that current LTE chipsets would have forced Apple to make design compromises it wasn’t willing to make.e

Taking all of this together, an iPhone 5 with LTE support doesn’t seem all that likely.

So what of Ahamad’s statement?

Well, the carrier now notes that it did not at any point confirm a new iPhone launch in 2011.

Etisalat held an LTE Media Seminar on 9th June 2011, following which there were several announcements in the media about the launch of LTE services in the UAE. In reference to these announcements, Etisalat would like to clarify that the Corporation is in talks with a number of manufacturers to bring the latest LTE-compatible devices to the UAE – including USB dongles, modems and mobile devices – whenever they become available from the manufacturer, after Etisalat’s official launch of LTE in Q3, 2011.
At no point did Etisalat confirm that any new iPhone device will be launched in 2011.
Meanwhile, earlier today it was reported that the next-gen iPhone is on target for a September 2011 launch.

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