That giant yawn you hear is geek reaction to the new fourth-generation Apple iPhone. Why the nerd nonchalance? Because for the first time since the iPhone blew our brains out in June 2007, there's already is a more advanced (and cheaper) phone available — the $200 HTC Sprint EVO 4G.
So when will there be an iPhone 4G? Probably not until 2012. What's the hold-up?
1. Only Sprint currently has a 4G network. And Apple won't do a 4G phone with Sprint because Apple has an exclusive deal with AT&T, reportedly through 2012. Although the exclusivity could be amended, Sprint has the wrong kind of 4G network. Sprint uses a 4G technology called WiMax, available primarily only in the U.S. and South Korea, and Apple wants worldwide domination.
2. Apple is likely waiting for LTE, the 4G technology both Verizon and AT&T will deploy, and which will be most ubiquitous worldwide.
3. AT&T is way behind in deploying a 4G network. It's not just behind Sprint, it's behind Verizon. When the feds auctioned off the analog TV spectrum in 2008, Verizon came away with a block that enables it to create a nationwide 4G network in a single frequency range, something (relatively) easy to implement. AT&T, however, finished second in the spectrum auction and ended up with a patchwork of disparate frequency ranges, which creates network and handset-design complications. As a result, Verizon's LTE network is due to launch first, sometime this year, and AT&T's not until sometime next year.
4. Apple is unlikely to launch a 4G iPhone until either Verizon or AT&T has a large enough 4G footprint to support a mass consumer phone rollout. Both Verizon and AT&T are likely to rollout their 4G networks slowly and will be aimed first at well-heeled business users via USB modem cards.
All of which means it'll probably be 2012 before we see an iPhone 4G.