After conducting a thorough teardown of Apple’s latest iPhone, research company IHS iSuppli concluded that it is the most complicated model yet created by the Cupertino mammoth. The most interesting part is the antenna arrangement, said IHS.
For the first time since the original iPhone was introduced, Apple now supports LTE networking, a fast wireless standard made possible by the inclusion of a high-performance Qualcomm chip, as well as several other hardware additions.
LTE, like any wireless standard, uses radio waves. Radio needs antennas. Of which the iPhone 5 has only two, says IHS. The interesting bit is how the phone manages to switch between the two in a constant manner to make WiFi and cellular data transfers.
“There are only two antennas, but there are lots of ways to switch between the two,” said Wayne Lam, senior analyst for wireless communications at IHS iSuppli
. “I was surprised at the level of engineering they had to go to.”
“This is the most complex radio antenna design that I've seen on any phone I've examined," Lam said in an interview with Computerworld
IHS said Apple was forced to design separate models of the iPhone 5 to cope with the demands for wireless standards across the world. In that respect, the A1428 model supports LTE bands 4 and 17 and works with AT&T’s towers across the United States.
Another model, A1429, works with bands 1, 3 and 5, and supports Verizon and Sprint airwaves.
"It's like a 3-D jigsaw puzzle in there," said Lam. "They've rearranged everything, ironed out the thickness of the battery, and gone with the smaller connector. It all goes along with the design tradition of Apple," he said.
Of the new Lightning connector, Lam said “[it] breaks a lot of compatibility, but it's much more functional.”