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Wednesday, October 05, 2011, 12:06 am PT (03:06 am ET)

Analyst: Apple saving 'iPhone 5' name for 4G LTE version in 2012

Apple's newly-announced iPhone 4S is an incremental stopgap while the company prepares a phone branded as the "iPhone 5" with 4G Long-Term Evolution data speeds for next spring, one analyst claims.

Analyst Will Strauss, president of wireless chip market research firm Forward Concepts, explained to CNet his belief on why Apple showed off an iPhone 4S and not the rumored "iPhone 5" on Tuesday. The new device features the A5 processor, an improved camera, a redesigned antenna and an integrated voice recognition feature called Siri.

"They're saving iPhone 5 for the LTE version and that won't be out until next spring," he said. Strauss tracks companies such as Qualcomm that provide the chips for 3G and 4G mobile technologies. However, given that the report does not indicate the source of his information, Strauss' prediction should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism.

"There's no way they could come out with LTE now," he continued, noting that the LTE-capable Thunderbolt smartphone from rival HTC requires a two chip solution: an LTE baseband chip and a second one from Qualcomm for 3G voice connections.

Strauss' comments do align with earlier reports that Apple would release an iPhone 4S as an "interim upgrade" in preparation for an LTE device in 2012.

Meanwhile, Anand Shimpi of AnandTech reports that the MDM9615, a chip capable of LTE voice and data that would fit Apple's iPhone specifications, should arrive early next year, with the first smartphones powered by it likely to arrive in the second quarter of 2012. He believes the MDM9615 could solve some of the battery life issues that device makers are seeing.

Shimpi went on to suggest that stumbling blocks in the transition to 28nm chips have caught a number of handset makers off guard. "I suspect that an aggressive 28nm roadmap that didn't pan out probably caught a lot of SoC and smartphone vendors in a position where they couldn't ship what they wanted to in 2011," he wrote.

"While I don't like participating in the rumor garbage, if I were to guess at the release date of the rumored iPhone 5 I'd say early Q3 2012," he added.

Though Apple has shown interest in LTE, even going so far as to purchase a batch of patents related to the technology, the company had said it wasn't willing to make the necessary sacrifices to include it in this year's iPhone.

"The first generation of LTE chipsets force a lot of design compromises with the handset, and some of those we are just not willing to make," Apple executive Tim Cook said earlier this year.

Initial response to the iPhone 4S has been mixed. Though some have expressed excitement about the new Siri voice activation functionality, others criticized the device as being too incremental to justify the 16-month period between iPhone releases.

According to Penn Olson, the reactions of Chinese netizens on the Weibo micro-blogging service have been overwhelmingly negative. A backlash from Chinese customers could prove costly to Apple, which has said that its iPhone focus has been on China.

“‘If we can’t show off with it, what’s the point of buying one?’ The iPhone 4S’s design has no major difference from the iPhone 4, is this a major reason why the 4S won’t be welcomed in China? Vain people don’t care about features, they care about how it looks,” the translation of one post read.

For its part, Wall Street has remained relatively optimistic about the device. Some analysts believe Apple will continue its impressive growth on the strength of an accelerated international rollout and new carrier partners.