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LTE 4G technology wasn’t mature enough for Apple to implement in the iPhone 4S, but we can expect it in the iPhone 5 when it debuts next year.

Will Strauss, president of market research company Forward Concepts, says that Apple is saving LTE for the iPhone 5, CNet reports. Strauss expects the iPhone 5 to debut next spring, but ultimately it appears that the phone’s release is dependent on the availability of mature LTE chipsets suited for thin smartphones.

At this point, it may seem tough to swallow yet another iPhone 5 rumor after Apple failed to deliver the much-anticipated device yesterday, introducing the iPhone 4S instead. But I have a feeling that many of the iPhone 5 rumors we’ve heard so far aren’t false, they just refer to Apple’s plans for next year.

Earlier this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook said several times that first-generation LTE chipsets would have forced “a lot of design compromises.” The popular LTE-equipped HTC Thunderbolt, for example, requires a power-hungry LTE chip for data and another 3G chip for voice capabilities.

A new LTE chip by Qualcomm, the MDM9615, is expected to be thinner than current solutions and to include voice functions. It will debut in the second or third quarter next year. “Phones based on the MDM9615 will likely increase LTE battery life to reasonable levels rather than what we’ve seen from the first generation of devices,” wrote AnandTech’s Anand Shimpi.

Current LTE chipsets are built with a 45-nanometer process, but next-generation versions due next year are expected to rely on smaller 28nm designs. Shimpi notes that chip manufacturing firms are having trouble with the transition to the smaller design, which likely led some cellphone makers to delay LTE products scheduled for 2011.

iPhone 5 mockup via MacRumors

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