LTE iPhone 5 Slated for Mid-2012 via Sprint, Says Taiwan

Cupertino expected to hop aboard the 4G train next year

Industry sources in Taiwan who are familiar with the mobile marketplace are expecting Apple to launch a new iPhone model next year with LTE capabilities that will run on Sprint Nextel’s network.

Citing the usual industry buffs, trade publication Digitimes says the latest chatter in Taiwan says that things are to heat up in the mobile industry as Sprint’s LTE network kicks into full gear in mid-2012.

Looking at Sprint’s roadmap, Taiwanese analysts said the company plans to launch 15 LTE-enabled end devices, of which many will be smartphones.

Of those smartphones “Nokia, Apple, RIM and Sony Ericsson are expected to join the LTE club” said the sources, as nobody wants to be left in a trail of dust, especially the Cupertino, California based Mac maker.

Apple has long been rumored to plan the introduction of an LTE-capable iPhone. It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when the iPhone will gain 4G wireless capabilities, and right now most bets are on the iPhone 5.

The fifth-generation iPhone was in fact expected to arrive this year, but Apple instead decided to release an updated version of the current model adding a faster processor, a better camera, an exclusive software-based personal assistant via iOS 5, and more.

Apple this year not only broke many fan’s hearts by not launching a completely redesigned iPhone, the company also broke its annual tradition of incrementing the iPhone lineup every other summer (or Worldwide Developers Conference).

It remains to be seen whether the Cupertino giant will want to get back on track with that refresh cycle. However, it is reasonable to assume that the next iPhone will be released when the time is right for Apple and not right for competitors, not necessarily when tradition says it should be launched.

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