Why the iPad 3 will get 4G before the iPhone

Why the iPad 3 will get 4G before the iPhone

Summary: Bloomberg says that the iPad's larger battery can better support the power requirements of LTE. While this sounds logical I don't think that it's the real reason.

SHARE:

Bloomberg, citing three people familiar with the product, dropped a doozy of a rumor on Friday about the iPad 3, noting that it will ship with a quad-core processor, retina display and an LTE radio capable of 4G data speeds -- and that it's coming in March.

The company’s manufacturing partners in Asia started ramping up production of the iPad 3 this month and plan to reach full volumes by February, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because the details aren’t public.

While the retina display part of the rumor should come as a surprise to no one, the quad-core, LTE and March details start to bring the picture of the elusive iPad successor into better focus.

Many people are probably wondering why would Apple bring LTE to the iPad before the iPhone 4S, which was released in October 2011.

According to one of Bloomberg's sources, the main reason is because the iPad has a bigger battery and can better support the power requirements of LTE. While this sounds logical I don't think that that's the reason.

A more plausible reason is that Apple is waiting for mobile network technology to reach critical mass before putting it in its devices. The best example of this is Apple's launch of the original iPhone in January 2007 without a 3G radio. Apple opted for slower 2G (EDGE) data on the original iPhone despite 3G technology being available because it wasn't available everywhere. History then repeated itself in October 2010 when Apple released the iPhone 4S without 4G.

Another argument could be made for battery life. The newer, faster data networks (like 4G) usually require a higher-power radio, which in turn drains the battery faster (just ask any 4G phone owner) -- a bad user experience and a risk that Apple isn't willing to take.

I've also heard the theory that, in the case of the iPhone, Apple didn't want to include an LTE radio in the iPhone 4S because it would give a leg up to 4G carriers -- at the expense of 3G carriers. Apple doesn't want to empower the carriers in any way, shape or form. If you need evidence of this, consider that Apple doesn't allow carriers to silkscreen their ugly logos on the iPhone (like they do on every other phone). And if that wasn't enough, Apple released iMessage in iOS 5 -- which basically cooks the carrier's golden goose (SMS).

In addition to its larger battery, Apple can afford to take a bigger risk with the iPad 3 by including LTE because it's not the iPhone. When your iPad runs out of battery you might not be able to play Where's My Water? but it's not going to prevent you from making or receiving phone calls -- which can be a safety issue for some users.

The iPhone is such an important part of many people's lives that Apple's not going to bet its battery on a new and power-hungry radio -- like LTE -- I don't care how fast it is. The iPad, on the other hand, is still mostly a luxury device. It's like a second car, or a summer home, you don't need one to get by, but it sure is nice to have.

Like LTE.

Topics: iPad, Hardware, Mobility, Processors

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

16 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Wrong

    The reason for the original iPhone not having 3G in fact WAS the battery life. IIRC Steve and others stated it explicitly. There was not a 3G chip that was low enough power to support a reasonable battery life at that time.

    You guys should have known that.
    MrHatken
    • RE: Why the iPad 3 will get 4G before the iPhone

      @MrHatken Wow! The iPad 3 has me really excited, can't wait til it comes out! I just read the leaked feature list and full specifications for the new iPad, and I must say they're pretty amazing.

      If you guys want to check out the leaked iPad 3 information, just check the link below -

      http://ipad3leak.com.nu
      SincerelyHis
      • RE: Why the iPad 3 will get 4G before the iPhone

        @SincerelyHis
        Something is blocking that link????
        blackjack861@...
  • Wondering

    Retina?<br>Kind of thinking, due to the considerable and oft repeated mfg issues, that it will be HD, just not retina level.<br>A retina level display would be a bigger battery issue than LTE.<br>Aside from that, most iPads sold are wifi only.<br><br>Then there is the iPad launch in spring while the iPhone has been moved to fall.<br>Then there is the stated Apple want of a better battery use LTE design, which is out?<br><br>Hmm......<br><br>Let's wait and see.<br><br><br>Popcorn time.......
    rhonin
  • RE: Why the iPad 3 will get 4G before the iPhone

    The iPhone 4S did not receive a 4G radio mostly because Apple already pushed the energy envelope too much on this phone. Most consumers don't know that the 4S has 100 less hours of standby time and 1 hour less of WiFi operation when compared to the iPhone 4.

    Now for the iPad, it is unlikely Apple can wait another release cycle without a 4G radio. It would make the device appear way behind the competition for the upcoming year. And yes, the iPad will probably get the 4G radio before the iPhone 5, just because its release cycle precedes the phone one.

    Can Apple really bet on its market position and the better hardware they have to delay the 4G radio inclusion?
    TheCyberKnight
    • RE: Why the iPad 3 will get 4G before the iPhone

      @TheCyberKnight So the battery on the iPhone 4s sounds like it's almost as bad as the one's on the majority of Android devices.
      athynz
      • RE: Why the iPad 3 will get 4G before the iPhone

        @Pete "athynz" Athens

        Well, I don't know really know about this. What I know is that the iPhone 4 has 300 hours of standby time where the 4S has 200 hours. Similarly, the WiFi went from 10 hours to 9 hours.

        My knowledge about Android is that if you let not-so-desirable stuff get installed (whether explicitly or unknowingly), you often end-up with abysmal battery life.

        Although not as good as the iPhone 4, the 4S does not goes that low.
        TheCyberKnight
  • RE: Why the iPad 3 will get 4G before the iPhone

    Why putting in LTE radio when there is hardly any coverage anyhow, worse most carriers are not even able to provide a full 3G coverage.
    rhon@...
    • Even worse

      @rhon@...
      The carriers will abandon 3G rollout in favor of 4G and if they don't get that completed quickly enough, 4G will get abandoned for the 'next great thing'.

      Waiting for the carriers to do the right thing usually means living in disappointment.
      use_what_works_4_U
      • Sound like you have no clue about reality

        @macadam Carriers are NOT abandoning 3G. In fact, they are only faking the transition to 4G. But that is only in the US.

        Around the world, the current roll-out is into 3G and most of the world has no plans to use LTE anytime soon. So there is very little business reason to invest on a technology that is STILL IN BETA (the specs are incomplete and unapproved) and the chips are still unoptimized.

        And BTW, LTE is NOT 4G. It does not meet the minimum requirements to be called 4G.
        wackoae
  • RE: Why the iPad 3 will get 4G before the iPhone

    4g speeds are nice, but honestly, I rarely spend time wishing my 3gs was faster. Personally, I would rather a longer battery life than a faster connection.
    Tigertank
    • RE: Why the iPad 3 will get 4G before the iPhone

      @Tigertank -I agree with you TT - give me longer battery life versus faster connections.
      jamboy34
  • Some will apologize the lack of 4G/LTE with anything...

    The main reason currently 4G/LTE sucks in USA is 80% of all infrastructure still remains un-upgraded from over twelve years ago, using now [b][u][i]obsolete[/i][/u][/b] wireless technology. No more upgrades on the CDMA cell towers (or 3G technologies). No more new deployments either...

    So a now common 4G/LTE unit now has to maintain two or more separate radio-transmitter-receivers to switch between whatever best coverage is available at the moment. And that is what takes battery power. Specifically, maintaining multiple RF electronics simultaneously.

    Switch the mobile device to 4G/LTE only, and battery life issues vanish, alongside with the useable coverage in 80% of the USA.

    Give credit to where credit is due. Please.

    And who would give up specs (oh that's right, some do not care about specs, they are too snobbish...) like 100Mbps moving, 1000Mbps stationary throughput afforded by the ITU 4G worldwide standard? Um, worldwide that is...

    Just Google 4G wiki for the full monty.

    [i]~~~~~~~~~~
    All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.
    ~ Mark Twain

    Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
    ~ Mark Twain

    Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.
    ~ Mark Twain

    Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.
    ~ John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963, 35th President of the United States[/i]
    WinTard
  • Typo in the article

    Iphone 4S was released in October 2011, not 2010 as the article states.

    [i]"History then repeated itself in October 2010 when Apple released the iPhone 4S without 4G."[/i]
    condu200
  • size and power are the real reasons

    The real reasons LTE wasn't included in the 4S are simpler: LTE chips are physically larger than 3G chips, and would require a significant engineering redesign, and as many have stated, they require greater power and drain batteries quicker. For the iPad, this is no big deal since the batteries are so much larger, and the interior space can more easily accommodate a larger chip. Apple is waiting for the inevitable engineering advances to produce smaller, more efficient LTE chips before they incorporate them into the iPhone; this will almost surely be the case by the time the iPhone5 is released this fall.
    Sparkadelic
  • RE: Why the iPad 3 will get 4G before the iPhone

    My knowledge about Android is that if you let not-so-desirable [url=http://seznamodkazy.cz/sport,zabava,a,zivotni,styl/kasino,s,87/]stuff[/url] get installed (whether explicitly or unknowingly), you often end-up with abysmal battery life.
    merkury9122