Cool to Be Slow: Why the Lack of LTE Speeds Won’t Stop the iPhone

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Most people with their eye on the mobile industry could tell you that the iPhone‚Äö√Ñ√¥s popularity only comes partially from its superiority as a device.  People have been longing for an LTE, or Long Term Evolution, iPhone to be released this year.  What this would mean is essentially an iPhone 4G, or at least a device that is working faster than the iPhone‚Äö√Ñ√¥s current 3G network.  The chances that the iPhone 5 will be an ‚Äö√Ñ√∫iPhone 4G,‚Äö√Ñ√π or at least an LTE phone, is not likely from what we have seen through rumors and releases.  The argument is now being made made by people, such as GigaOM, that this is not going to hinder the popularity of the iPhone 5 in any substantial way.

One of the places that are supporting this is T-Mobile, which has recently announced that more than a million cracked iPhones are actually being used with the T-Mobile service.  T-Mobile does have 3G connectivity, but since it is a different frequency the iPhone users who are on that network only get slower Edge or 2G speeds.  This makes all the ‚Äö√Ñ√∫T-Mobile iPhones‚Äö√Ñ√π slower than other smart phones on the same network, but that is not stopping more than a million users who are hungry for this iDevice.  The devices themselves are a whole range, mostly older than the iPhone 4 and often even purchased unlocked ahead of time and then pushed onto the T-Mobile service.  One million users may not seem like a lot when we are looking at the total numbers, but for a device that is not naturally supported by T-Mobile this number is astronomical as it requires a very conscious action by each user. 

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The question here is really why the iPhone‚Äö√Ñ√¥s lack of 4G or LTE speed is not really an issue for most users.  The first thing that we have to remember is that now both Verizon and AT&T have tiered data plans, which means that users are going to be plugging into Wi-Fi more often than they are on their 3G ‚Äö√Ñ√∫anywhere‚Äö√Ñ√π network.  When AT&T still had exclusive rights over the iPhone and a somewhat limited service potential in particular urban areas the iPhone still soared in popularity.  What this shows us all is that the design, popularity, and apps are what really are driving the iPhone, not network potentiality.  If T-Mobile can see that a full 3 percent of their network has a black-market device on it that actually runs slower than the rest then it is easy to acknowledge that there is something less objective that is propping up the iPhone in the market.

All of this does not mean that we cannot expect an iPhone 4G, but it will likely be coming from the iPhone 6 at earliest.  Once the T-Mobile and AT&T merger goes through we will see the T-Mobile iPhone becoming an instant legitimate reality, and there will be enough capital to push through the iPhone LTE immediately.  Once the usability and access are across the three major carriers then the Android will simply have no chance of recovery.  No matter how fast it is.

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