The iPhone 5 will launch in Australia on September 21, and, unlike the new iPad, the long-term evolution (LTE) 4G functionality will actually work on the 4G networks in Australia.
In announcing the new iPhone overnight, Apple's marketing chief Phil Schiller highlighted the fact that Apple has developed a single LTE chip with one radio and a dynamic antenna that supports LTE, HSPA+, and DC-HSPA. This was likely pointed out in order to get a jump on any incoming Samsung lawsuits, but Apple also revealed that there will be three models of the new iPhone 5 that will make it compatible with the various different 4G networks across the globe, including Australia.
Both Telstra and Optus have confirmed that the new iPhone will work on their respective 4G networks, and it is expected that Optus subsidiary Virgin will also sell the 4G device.
While Samsung may decide to take on Apple in court over the iPhone 5 in yet another patent battle, making the device 4G compatible in Australia means that Apple will hopefully avoid a court battle with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
In June, Apple agreed to pay an AU$2.25 million fine for launching the new iPad in Australia as the "iPad 4G", despite the fact that it doesn't operate on Australia's LTE networks. In that instance, there was only one variation of LTE, and it operated on the 700MHz spectrum band, not the 1800MHz spectrum band that is used by both Telstra and Optus in Australia.
The one outstanding question is whether Vodafone will choose to offer or the new iPhone, and, if it does, how it will market it. Vodafone is not expected to launch a 4G network until mid-2013, and by that time we will be much closer to the launch of the next iPhone. At the moment, the company is trumpeting its "3G Plus" DC-HSPA upgrades.
Vodafone can take comfort in the fact that Telstra's 4G network only covers 40 percent of the Australian population, while Optus' network is currently confined to Sydney, Newcastle and Perth, with Melbourne coming online on Saturday, September 15. But the two telcos have a head start on Vodafone, and will have a much larger 4G footprint by the time Vodafone launches a 4G network. Telstra has said that two thirds of the population will be able to get 4G coverage by June 2013.
The iPhone 5 is faster with the A6 chip, it comes in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB models, has eight hours of talk time on the battery, and a smaller dock connector. The price ranges from AU$799 to AU$999 to buy outright.
Australian customers will be able to pre-order the new iPhone 5 from Friday, September 14.