Apple plans to sell a 4G version of its iPad 3 for Verizon and AT&T, hinting at an LTE iPhone 5 in the works to stay ahead of the competition.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based company’s third iteration of its popular tablet will feature the Gobi 4000 LTE chip, according to the Wall Street Journal, making it the first device from the company to support the next-generation data speeds on Verizon and AT&T.
Details are unavailable on the iPad 3′s support of T-Mobile or Sprint’s networks.
The company’s decision to include LTE in the iPad 3 will all but guarantee the iPhone 5 will also feature the technology. The smartphone market is burgeoning with LTE-capable devices and excluding the technology in the next iPhone would risk severely hampering sales.
Apple’s experimentation with LTE in the iPad 3 is likely a dress rehearsal for the introduction of an iPhone later this year that houses the same technology.
In the past, Apple let competitors experiment with new technology and features before perfecting and adding them to later versions of its products. However, as the clear-cut market leader in tablets, the iPad maker is adopting LTE in hopes of dominating AT&T and Verizon’s high-end market, as networks mature to give users faster data speeds.
LTE offers speeds that rival a broadband connection, but analysts’ had criticized the technology for draining the battery performance in smartphones. Even the most popular LTE phones — like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and HTC — suffered customer complaints for fast battery drain with LTE service turned on.
However, LTE won’t likely affect the iPad 3′s power consumption. Battery life was a defining features of iPad and iPad 2, and Apple won’t sacrifice performance to add a new feature to its already dominant tablet.
IPad 3 prototype photos suggested Apple planned to engineering the device to allow for a larger battery, perhaps to combat the taxing demands of extensive LTE use.
Adding LTE technology to the iPad brings the fastest possible data speeds to a tablet that most analysts already consider the best in the market, putting Apple in position to further dominate the market in 2012.