iPhone 5 is coming to the UK on all networks but it appears only LTE compatible with EE for now.
So the announcements have been made and the dust has settled. This week has seen Everything Everywhere launch a new brand EE to cater for LTE in the UK and commit to bringing the service to the majority of the country by next year. It also seems that the T-Mobile and Orange mobile brands under the Everything Everywhere umbrella will be phased out in the process, although this is likely to take some time and they will all sit side by side for a while yet. Also, unless you were under a rock, you might have heard about a new smartphone from a company called Apple as well.
There’s plenty to talk about but one specification that jumped out at us here at Clove was the supported frequency bands for LTE. As a reseller with international clients we often have to check the compatibility of the devices we sell to ensure our customers don’t receive a device they can’t use on their network. Below is a screen grab from the UK Apple store with the 3 available versions:
We can ignore the CDMA version in the UK so we have GSM models A1428 and A1429, identical except for the LTE bands which relate to frequencies:
EE will be operating LTE on the 1800MHz (Band 3) so will be able to provide LTE service on the iPhone 5 with no issues. They have also sold some of this spectrum to 3 who may choose to use it for LTE however it will take time for EE to make the sold range available and for 3 to get their masts and service operational.
This leaves O2 and Vodafone in the lurch for the time being. The delayed spectrum auction will provide the final 2 major UK operators with the ability to launch an LTE network however the spectrum being offered is in the 800 MHz (Band 20) and 2.6GHz (Band 7) ranges. So iPhone 5 in its current guise will only be LTE compatible on EE and possibly 3 at some point in the future.
This of course wont stop everyone from selling the iPhone 5 however I get the feeling this has the ability to confuse the average consumer and may result in many non EE customers complaining they aren’t receiving 4G or being under the mistaken belief that they are when they’re still on HSPA+. Pricing on 4G data contracts is going to be very interesting to monitor and getting the best deal from the operators is going to make the consumer’s job that much harder in my opinion.
iPhone 5 wont be the only 4G device on the market, EE have already mentioned that there will be LTE compatible versions of the Samsung Galaxy S3, HTC One XL, Nokia Lumia 920 and Huawei Ascend P1 so we can expect the other operators to market these or other LTE compatible devices that are available once their networks are up and running. The kicker though will be the consumer popularity of the iPhone brand and unless Apple provide modified versions for other networks in the future, EE currently have a monopoly on the LTE features of iPhone 5.
Clove do not currently stock any LTE compatible handsets. If we have the ability to obtain LTE versions of current devices once they are released to the market then we will make them available on the main Clove site with a clear indication of the differences between models.