As you probably have noticed Apple, the company famous for making computers, among other things, did something remarkable yesterday. Yes, it killed off the ‘Classic’ iPod. You know the one with the click wheel and the 50 trillion songs on your pocket slogan. I know, I can hardly believe it either. This is a great shame of course, especially as I was thinking of upgrading my 2005 model as just last week my iTunes library exceeded its 60GB capacity for the first time meaning I can’t just hook it up and sync. Ah, cruel world.
In the context of this blog though, I’m misdirecting you (in case you hadn’t noticed), as Apple also released three new devices in the shape of two new iPhones and a Watch, its first ‘wearable’. The latter, in all likelihood, marks the official start of the ‘IoT’, as previously ‘dumb’ devices become smart and connected. Yes, others have got their first, but no tech party can really begin till Apple arrives. (Then again, some people hate it).
In terms of LTE though, the new iPhones raise the bar, albeit relatively modestly. The phones now offer LTE support on 20 different bands, though not at once. As with the 5c/s there are three skews, with multiple variations for Europe, Asia and the US. TD-LTE support has also been slightly expanded with the addition of Band 41 – 2.5GHz.
Both phones feature the Qualcomm MDM9625, a Category 4 LTE chip capable of 150Mbps, up from the Category 3 100Mbps in the iPhone 5s. The speed boost is down to support for carrier aggregation, one of the core features of LTE-Advanced. In comparison, Android powered rivals such as the Galaxy S5 Prime will this year sport the Qualcomm MDM9635, a Category 6 chip that can give 225Mbps. However, Apple is generally conservative in its choice of network chips, presumably for cost reasons. The older chip with a more mature manufacturing process is likely to be significantly cheaper than the latest iteration and reducing the cost of the bill of materials makes for fatter profits, while still offering an improvement over last year’s model. Additionally, as the South Korean networks are the only ones that can really do anything with the faster Qualcomm chips anyway, it makes little sense to raise costs by pushing them out there right now.
Fortunately, the iPhone 6 now supports the much talked about VoLTE, (check our the LTE Voice conference in London on 6th-8th August), the tech that is starting to be rolled out by LTE enabled operators round the world.
We also get Wi-Fi Calling, enabling voice calls to be made over Wi-Fi even in areas with poor or no cellular coverage. I must admit this sounded very cool, until I realized that I already have this function through Virgin Media, which offers an app for its home phone customers that offers a similar service, which I must admit I have yet to even try.
Either way, in the UK, EE says it will support both soon, the latter this year and VoLTE next year. In the US, T-Mobile has announced support for Wi-Fi calling.
The phones also supports the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, capable of sustaining transfer rates of up to 450Mbps.
What could end up being the most intriguing aspect though is the addition of NFC combined with its Apple Pay eco-system. One beep and you’re done. I already use contactless when I can via an Amex card and am always annoyed when retailers don’t support it, in favour of the other team – the Mastercard/Visa ‘Paypass’. So while many fear Apple taking over, I, for one, welcome our new financial overlords, and our bringer of mild 4G speed boosts.