With all of the speculation surrounding what Apple’s next-gen iPhone will look like, people seem to be glossing over some of the more intriguing, albeit speculative, features of what will likely be called the iPhone 5.
Going back a few months, two of the more persistent rumors suggested that Apple’s next-gen iPhone would be Near Field Communications (NFC) enabled and that it would also be a worldmode phone capable of running on both GSM and CDMA networks.
While Apple is undoubtedly working on NFC capable devices, and indeed hired an NFC expert last Summer, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that Apple will include said functionality before the iPhone 6.
As for a worldmode iPhone? Well, that’s a completely different story.
Early reports of a worldmode iPhone 5 sporting a hybrid GSM/CDMA chip from Qualcomm first emerged in the Fall of 2010. Since then, similar reports have popped up here and there and have colored what was an initially murky rumor with more substantive details. Specifically, the iPhone 5 will run on either GSM or CDMA networks right out of the box thanks to the aforementioned hybrid chip from Qualcomm and three to four internal antennas. So whether you’re in California or Milan, your brand new iPhone 5 will work no matter what technology your carrier uses. In other words, anywhere in the world.
Verizon CFO Fran Shammo even alluded to a worldmode iPhone back in May when he claimed that the next iPhone Verizon will carry will have the same worldwide coverage as AT&T’s. A telling statement given that Verizon relies on CDMA technology in a world otherwise dominated by GSM-centric carriers.
And adding even more reason to believe a worldmode phone is on the horizon, Robin Wauters of TechCrunch reported today that he was sent app usage logs from a developer showing that the upcoming iPhone will support both CDMA and GSM networks.
The logs show that the app has been briefly tested by a handful of people using what is almost certainly an iPhone 5, evidently running iOS 5, sporting two distinct sets of mobile network codes (MNC) / mobile country codes (MCC). Those codes can be used to uniquely identify mobile carriers.
Sure enough, some registrations for the app – which the developer also asked not to be named – were logged from a new Apple device, using the MNC/MCC codes from both Verizon and AT&T.
A worldmode phone would undoubtedly be a boon for iPhone users in the United States tied to AT&T. As pointed out by Wauters, the list of countries with CDMA networks is scant, and includes India, Japan, and Argentina. As far as we can tell, iPhone 5 users from any country, no matter what carrier they’re on, will be able to use their device anywhere in the world and “roam between both networks effortlessly.”
As for when we can finally get our hands on this long-awaited device, the most recent scuttlebut points to a release date of October 7.
That’s about 6 weeks away.
We think we can hold out that long. Maybe.