Walter Isaacson recounts in Steve Jobs’ biography how Jobs, on the same day he tendered his resignation to Apple’s board, “peppered” Scott Forstall and Phil Schiller about upcoming Apple products, “especially about what capacities the fourth-generation cellular networks might have and what needed to be in future phones.”
It’s widely believed that one of the likely features we can expect to see in the iPhone 5 is support for 4G LTE. While 4G based Android smartphones are already in circulation, they suffer from abhorrent battery life that, in some cases, make the device practically unusable. As for Apple’s foray into 4G, they’ve been waiting patiently due to the aforementioned battery issues along with clunky LTE chipsets that Apple CEO Tim Cook said would have forced Apple to make design compromises it wasn’t comfortable with.
Another factor behind Apple’s measured approach to 4G is the simple fact that most people across the country don’t live in areas with 4G coverage. That percentage, however, is continually increasing with time as carriers continue to improve 4G coverage.
Just last week, AT&T announced that it had expand its 4G LTE coverage to include 11 new cities, bringing the total number of markets under AT&T’s 4G umbrella to 26, an area which encompasses 74 million subscribers.
By way of comparison, Verizon’s 4G network currently covers 190 cities and 118 major airports. All told, Verizon’s 4G network covers more than 200 million Americans and the cell carrier has plans to expand its 4G coverage to cover 2/3 of the US population by June of 2012 and its current 3G footprint by the end of 2013.
In any event, the 11 cities added to AT&T’s 4G coverage include:
- New York City metro area
- Austin, Tex.
- Chapel Hill, N.C.
- Los Angeles, Calif.
- Oakland, Calif.
- Orlando, Fla.
- Phoenix, Ariz.
- Raleigh, N.C.
- San Diego, Calif.
- San Francisco, Calif.
- San Jose, Calif
The list of cities with existant 4G coverage includes Athens, Georgia, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Washington DC.