When Samsung unveiled its Galaxy S4 LTE-Advanced variant of its flagship device last week, it called it the “world’s first commercially available LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) smartphone.” It may not be the only such device to be available for very long though. The Korea Times reports that SK reached to Apple to work together on an LTE-A-enabled version of the upcoming iPhone 5S. According to an SK Telecom executive who asked to remain anonymous, “SK Telecom is approaching Apple to put our LTE-A technology on the upcoming iPhone 5S. We are in the middle of negotiations.”
The work needed to modify the iPhone 5S to support LTE-A is not expected to be significant. Should the iPhone 5S variant use the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor as Samsung chose for its LTE-A model as the report suggests, it’s likely that most technological hurdles (assuming there were any) were solved during the development of the Samsung smartphone. “Thanks to the Qualcomm technology, Apple can release i-devices globally without the time gap. This is a win-win strategy,” added another SK Telecom source.
The report adds that SK Telecom is hoping to have as many as seven LTE-A devices available by the end of the year.
LTE-Advanced promises download speeds twice as high as those of LTE thanks to carrier aggregation, an approach that combines different frequencies and uses them as one. While many LTE devices already support several LTE channels, they can only download from one at a time. Aggregation allows them to use two more LTE channels simultaneously, thereby increasing download speeds.
LTE-A is only supported in a handful of global markets at this time. It is expected to launch in the US with some carriers later this year with more markets to follow next year.