Apple has posted job listings on LinkedIn for field test engineers with experience testing LTE equipment, reports Forbes. This indicates that Apple is indeed looking to ship an LTE iPhone in the near future.
The ad, posted August 17 or 18 is for QA engineers that will work with Apple’s iOS Quality team in “qualifying all of the latest iPhone products”. The ad was posted by an Apple senior recruiter that explains that the focus of the engineer’s job will be “testing the telephony (phone, sms, data, etc) functionality of the iPhone.”
Field testing phones is a common part of the process in ensuring that the devices work in real-world scenarios outside of a lab.
Although Forbes reports that these testing jobs indicate that the ‘next version’ of Apple’s iPhone will include LTE, we’re not so sure. Just because Apple is running LTE tests doesn’t mean that the iPhone 5 will have the technology built in. Currently only 160 million, a little over half, of the US population is covered by Verizon’s LTE network and AT&T doesn’t even have one up and running yet.
While LTE chips are undoubtedly being improved on at a rapid clip, it’s unlikely that they will be ready in time for an iPhone release in October. That device has most likely already finished design stages and is entering production as we speak. Apple’s COO Peter Oppenheimer said in April that “the first generation of LTE chipsets forced a lot of design compromises with the handset, and some of those we are just not willing to make.”
Job listings in January indicated that Apple was looking for engineers to help integrate, implement and enhance L1-3 cellular radio protocols including LTE. The job listings here seem to indicate that that equipment has entered the field test phase.
Apple itself has stated that “over a one- to two-year development cycle, Apple engineers spend thousands of hours performing antenna and wireless testing in the lab.”
This indicates that any device that is in testing could be coming out up to two years after it enters the testing phase. This means that we might not see an LTE iPhone until 2013.
We would not be surprised to see a future iPhone with LTE technology, it’s obviously going to happen at some point. We just wouldn’t advise that you count on that being the iPhone 5.