To support 4G LTE bands in various countries across the world, Apple as been forced to manufacture three separate models of the iPhone 5.
Two of these models are GSM models, with the third being a CDMA compatible model.
Oddly the CDMA model appears to be the global version of the device. It not only has the support for the most LTE bands (including Japan, Korea’s and some of Europe’s 4G bands along with Verizon and Sprint, it also has support for global GSM and HSPA+ frequencies.
The two GSM models aren’t just regionally focused, one is targeted specifically at AT&T. The LTE bands in one GSM version line up exactly with AT&T’s 4G networks, a configuration that no other operator in the world uses (though half of its bands will also support Canada’s LTE networks). The other GSM model appears to be targeted at Asian carriers, but has additional support for the 1800 MHz bands used by UK’s Everything Everywhere and a few other European operators. All of those bands are supported in the CDMA version, but Apple is likely looking to cut down on its radio components cost by targeting this phone specifically at particular regions.
A number of European carriers’ LTE frequencies have not been supported in any of these iPhone 5 variants, leaving them helpless, without a competitive edge.
The exact frequencies supported by the three variants are:
- GSM model A1428*: UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); LTE (Bands 4 and 17)
- CDMA model A1429*: CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1900, 2100 MHz); UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); LTE (Bands 1, 3, 5, 13, 25)
- GSM model A1429*: UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); LTE (Bands 1, 3, 5)
When Verizon first hopped on to the iPhone bandwagon, Apple had to manufacture a separate CDMA model to support the carrier’s network. However, with the iPhone 4S upgrade, Apple unified the iPhone line to a single world phone compatible with both CDMA and GSM networks. If this is any indication, we can expect future iPhone releases to be compatible across a various carriers’ 4G LTE networks without being split into separate variations.
More details about the iPhone 5’s technical specifications can be found on Apple’s website.