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Apple's next iPhone expected to launch in October with Qualcomm LTE chip

Even if Apple did want to launch its sixth-generation iPhone before October of this year, supply issues with Qualcomm LTE chips would still cause the next iPhone to launch a full year after the iPhone 4S.

Analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray revealed in a note to investors on Thursday that Qualcomm is facing supply issues for its 28-nanometer LTE baseband. He believes that will assure that the next iPhone will launch in October of this year.

But he expects that Qualcomm, based on increased capital spending this year from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, will have the capacity to support a fourth-quarter launch of a new iPhone with LTE 4G connectivity.

"It is more likely the phone launches in October given Qualcomm commentary around 28nm chip supply," he said. "We believe Apple will include LTE in the iPhone 5 as an important feature in the product update."

Regardless, the timing of the launch of the next iPhone is "irrelevant," Munster believes. All that matters is that Apple's next iPhone is a "compelling" upgrade, a requirement that he believes the company will meet with connectivity to high-speed long-term evolution data networks.

Last month, it was said that Apple is expected to utilize Qualcomm's "MDM9615" LTE chip, which supports both voice and data connections on high-speed 4G LTE networks. It was said in March that Apple was in the midst of testing and evaluating potential components for the next iPhone.

The rumored Qualcomm LTE chip would be a change from the new iPad, which features the company's "MDM9600" modem. That chip only offers data connections over 4G LTE, and not voice, as the iPad cannot be used to place phone calls.

Rumors surrounding the next iPhone have generally agreed that it will launch in the fall of 2012, about a year after the iPhone 4S debuted. Last year's iPhone launch was uncharacteristic for Apple, which had previously introduced new handsets at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

Instead, last year Apple opted to show off iOS 5 at WWDC in San Francisco, Calif. If the company sticks to that same schedule for 2012, the company would then introduce the next major update to iOS at this year's show in early June.