Rumors of an “iPhone 5S” cropped up pretty much the instant the iPhone 4S was released. After all, once the precedence is set, what else could Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) conceivably call the the second iteration of its fifth generation of smartphones? Apple’s signature use of taxonomy to help brand its products leads consumers to expect nothing less.
But to the point: the word on the street is that a phone with this moniker is in the works (is anyone surprised?). Apple Insider reports, citing Chinese tech news website EMSOne, that long-time partner Foxconn will be the exclusive manufacturer of the device. The meat of the report, which amounts to a rumor, is that the speculated phone will be compatible with multiple carriers — most notably, China Mobile (NYSE:CHL), which boasts over 700 million total subscribers.
Taking a stroll down speculation lane, the capacity to support multiple carriers could be provided by the newest LTE chipset manufactured by Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM).
“The Qualcomm RF360 Front End Solution, a comprehensive, system-level solution that addresses cellular radio frequency band fragmentation and enables for the first time a single, global 4G LTE design for mobile devices,” the company reported when it announced the chip. “Band fragmentation is the biggest obstacle to designing today’s global LTE devices, with 40 cellular radio bands worldwide.”
Such a chip would certainly solve a whole mess of obstacles for Apple in a single swoop. Getting the iPhone on China Mobile’s network could be a long-needed catalyst for the company’s stock, with or without a 5S, or either of the lower price-point models that have been the subject of recent speculation. That is, one polycarbonate iPhone with a 4.5-inch screen pegged for 2014, and a “cheap edition” indicated in Friday’s report pegged for August of 2013.
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