iPhone 5: A GSM/CDMA world phone?

iFixit discovered that the Verizon iPhone has a Qualcomm dual-mode GSM/CDMA chip

The teardown kings at iFixit have discovered that Apple's new Verizon CDMA iPhone has a Qualcomm dual-mode GSM/CDMA chip under the hood. That means, as iFixit notes, "Apple could have supported GSM" networks such as AT&T or T-Mobile with the Verizon iPhone. But for whatever reason Apple decided against this strategy and went CDMA-only with its new version of the iPhone 4. But what about the rumored iPhone 5 expected to debut this summer? Could Apple make the iPhone a GSM-CDMA world phone then?

Computerworld Australia: iPhone 5 launch expected on October 7

What iFixit Found

If the Verizon iPhone has a dual-mode chip inside, there must be a way to modify it into a world phone for your trip to Europe this summer right? Sorry to burst your bubble, but no. The first stumbling block for the Verizon iPhone is that it doesn't have a SIM card slot. Without a SIM card there's no way to get access to a GSM network.

But more importantly, the Verizon iPhone's antenna is designed specifically for CDMA networks supporting only two frequency bands -- 800 and 1900MHz. The AT&T/international version of the iPhone, by comparison, supports five frequency bands. Verizon's iPhone is incapable of recognizing most GSM frequencies.

So the Verizon iPhone is not a world phone or even world-phone ready, but what about iPhone 5? Apple clearly has the experience with designing the hardware that can do it, albeit in two different phones.

A world phone would also make it easier (and probably cheaper) to produce just one iPhone model that could handle almost any network.

The one drawback is that a dual-mode GSM/CDMA device would be operating in an increasingly 4G world. In other words, 3G is yesterday's news and the faster so-called 4G networks such as LTE, HSPA+ and WiMax are the future. Verizon is pushing its faster 4G LTE network with new Android phones, and Sprint is pushing forward with its 4G WiMax network. AT&T is also moving forward with plans for an LTE network this year and hopes to be fully operational by 2013. So perhaps what Apple needs isn't a dual-mode 3G phone, but -- as PC World's Mark Sullivan suggested in January -- a triple-mode GSM/CDMA/LTE phone. Now that would truly be a world iPhone.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) and Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Appleconsumer electronicsat&tverizoniPhonePhonesqualcomm

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?