Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Fragmentation Comes to the iPhone

Alexandra Chang writes for Wired magazine’s Gadget Lab:

Apple has finally made its latest iPhone compatible with LTE networks. But it’s not all good news for the company’s customers. Due to 4G LTE fragmentation, Apple has had to make three different models of the iPhone 5. Where the iPhone 4S was a dual GSM/CDMA device, meaning one model for all carriers, the LTE-enabled iPhone 5 comes in two separate GSM models and one CDMA model. This means that consumers will have fewer choices when switching carriers, and that LTE access will be limited when traveling abroad.

I touched on this yesterday, but I didn’t entirely realize how complicated it is. There are something like two dozen LTE bands, and trying to implement all of them in one phone would be an engineering nightmare. For a similar reason, the CDMA model for Verizon and Sprint won’t support simultaneous use of voice and data.

The iPhone 5 also features Apple’s first change of data connector in nearly a decade of ultra-portable products, and obviously a taller display. This is genuinely the first example of true fragmentation on the iOS side.