4G iPhone 5 will be immediate hit: Study

Large numbers of people plan to buy or upgrade to the forthcoming 4G iPhone, many of them citing LTE wireless technology as a main reason.

If the results of a new PCWorld/Macworld survey are any guide, the forthcoming iPhone 5 with LTE is going to be a big hit.

Large numbers of people plan to buy or upgrade to the first 4G iPhone, many of them citing the new LTE wireless technology as a main reason, the survey suggests.

Of the Macworld readers asked, 70 percent say they will buy the new device, with 48 percent of those people saying they will preorder it. Far fewer PCWorld readers--15 percent--are already sold on the device. But almost 40 percent of mobile users who read neither PCWorld nor Macworld say they too will buy the iPhone 5.

The PCWorld/Macworld survey was conducted in March among a group of 1248 survey takers: 592 PCWorld readers, 271 Macworld readers, and a panel of 385 smartphone users who read neither publication.

Most of the people who say they plan to buy the new iPhone will likely choose the AT&T version. Among those surveyed, 41 percent say they're likely to buy the AT&T iPhone, while 29 percent say they're likely to own the Verizon version. AT&T is the carrier of choice among 62 percent of Macworld readers, while 36 percent of PCWorld readers prefer Verizon.

New iPhone and "Churn"

Although less than 10 percent of PCWorld and Macworld readers say they are "likely" to switch carriers in the next year, a suprisingly large number of smartphone owners who don't read those publications--about 30 percent--say they are likely to switch. The carriers refer to those people as "churn," and they spend a lot of money each year trying to capture them from competitors. That's why it's crucial to the carriers to offer the latest version of the hugely popular iPhone, and to outfit it with very fast LTE service.

After citing saving money on plans as the most important reason to switch, people responding to the survey identified "network service" as the most important factor causing a carrier switch, so the battle for data speed among the carriers may indeed affect who grabs the most iPhone-using subscribers. A recent PCWorld study showed that AT&T's new LTE service, while now in far fewer places than Verizon's, is the fastest in the land.

Best Carrier for iPhone 5?

Of the non-PCWorld/Macworld reading "switchers," 24 percent say they'd go to AT&T, while 20 percent say they'd go to T-Mobile, 19 percent say they'd go to Sprint, and only 15 percent say they'd go to Verizon. Of PCWorld and Macworld readers who said they were either "unsure" or "likely" to switch carriers, Verizon was the most common choice. Half of the Macworld-reading "switchers" say they would go to Verizon, while 32 percent of the PCWorld readers say they would switch to Verizon.

As it stands today, Verizon and AT&T--which together claim more than 80 percent of US post-paid subscribers--are almost even in customer satisfaction, according to the survey. Sixty-four percent of Verizon customers and 62 percent of AT&T customers say they're extremely or very satisfied.

Expectations, Speculations

While expectations and hype are running high, Apple has released no word on when the new iPhone will appear. And details on the next-generation iPhone remain sparse.

Most analysts believe that the new device will show up in late summer or fall, with a thinner form factor and a Qualcomm chip that lets the phone connect with several flavors of 3G GSM and 4G LTE service.

The carriers and the analysts have been pleasantly surprised by strong sales of the iPhone 4S, which dissappointed many by not coming with a 4G radio inside. If the not-very-revolutionary iPhone 4S can do so well with consumers, the reasoning goes, the LTE-equiped iPhone 5 should sell even better.

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