Resolved Why isn't an LTE radio in more laptops?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Scarpad, Aug 10, 2016.

  1. Scarpad macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
    Not just MacBooks but laptops in general why mot include LTE , certainly could be useful
  2. boston04and07 macrumors 65816


    May 13, 2008
    I totally agree. I don't know why more laptops haven't added it at this point, but my guess is that it's because only fairly recently has cellular data become fast enough for what most people expect on a laptop. Prices are an issue too I'm sure, but personally I'd love for the option of buying a laptop with built in LTE (like you get when you buy an iPad), as I am someone who would gladly pay the extra price for the option.

    As far as Mac laptops are concerned, I know Apple has been working on their embedded Apple SIM technology for a few years now, and it's only been within the past year or so (I think) that most recent iPads have shipped with these new SIMs built in. Since we haven't seen a major MacBook Pro refresh in that time, maybe they do have plans to add it at some point but just haven't yet since no new models have come out. I would love it if they did - something like that could really work well in laptops, IMO. I know some tech blogs I read have run articles within the last few months about Apple patenting things related to putting SIM cards in MacBooks - I can't remember exactly where I read that, but if I do I'll post it. Of course, Apple patents mean next to nothing in terms of predicting what will be released, but still, it shows they've at least been considering it.
  3. xb2003 macrumors 6502


    Jan 18, 2016
    I don't think it would be something THAT many people would use, although many businesses could greatly benefit from it.

    But less and less consumers are carrying laptops every day.

    And the thing is, while fast, 4G and LTE are a fairly unreliable Internet connections. Businesses that demand reliability will still look at more robust solutions.

    It's definitely a cool idea.. I just don't see it being that big of a seller. I use my laptop on the go quite often, and I surely wouldn't pay for it. Tethering is just too easy.
  4. mtneer macrumors 68030


    Sep 15, 2012
    I have owned multiple Windows PC's over the past 10 years or so with a SIM tray - but I have never bothered to get cellular data due to cost. LTE, at least in the US, is still heavily metered and even the biggest plans top out around 20 - 25GB per month for hundreds of dollars. With more capabilities at their disposal when compared to a smartphone, a laptop user will expect to use a lot more data. Until US telephone companies get out of the smartphone mindset and deploy data for general purpose, I don't foresee laptops carrying LTE. I think AT&T still does not let you have a data only SIM card with a phone - they will force a voice plan on..
  5. Exile714 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 14, 2015
    I just don't see a scenario where internet data would be necessary but WiFi not available for a device as large as a laptop.

    First, what do you need data for? It couldn't be anything too big because LTE data isn't cheap (at least in the U.S. anyway). If it's something you have to download and you know you'll be away from WiFi, how hard would it be to pre-download them? If it's an upload, why can't you just wait to get back to WiFi?

    The only places I ever use LTE are in the wilderness/when exercising outside, in the car where I use music and maps, and on the go like in a mall or at the dentist. There's no place I can imagine needing data on a laptop and not having WiFi. I'm not taking my laptop on a hike, or carrying it around at the mall.

    And in those .001% of situations where my laptop would need data, tethering is acceptable. Considering the cost and engineering drawbacks, I can't see an LTE/wireless data radio in a laptop until 5G networks become common.
  6. boston04and07 macrumors 65816


    May 13, 2008
    So it does sound like your usage patterns don't require LTE in your laptop, and that's fine, but it seems as though you're envisioning the general need for data in the context of your own daily needs, which doesn't necessarily represent other users.

    As far as my needs are concerned, I am on the go a lot and heavily prefer a laptop over an iPad for what I need to do. I'm not going to get into detail as to exactly what I do for work, but it does require things that I can't just "pre-download" - to answer your question, it would be very hard if not impossible for me to pre download things that I work with, such as websites and emails and messages. Sure, all those things can be acquired on my iPhone, but when I have my laptop right in front of me, having to use my small phone screen is not only kind of silly but also cumbersome. And yes, I do tether, but for my uses its not ideal at all. Whenever I tether, I pretty much have to choose whether I want to drain my iPhone's battery (my 6s drains remarkably fast when tethering), or drain my MacBook Pro more than I need to in order to maintain my iPhone's battery, or try to find a public (and hopefully secure, but maybe not) wifi spot (which isn't all that easy even in the major US city I live in), or just go without data and potentially impacting productivity. Not great choices, especially considering my iPhone is the sole data connection I have - if that goes, I'm out of luck. I see plenty of other people using laptops out and about during my day. Tethering is absolutely a great option for people who don't need to use it all the time, like you, but for those of us who do need it more often, it can be kind of a clunky option for the reasons I outlined, and having the option of built in data would be so much nicer. Again, not for everyone, and just like how iPads give you the option of adding LTE I think Macs should make this optional too.

    You might be right in that the minority of people would need/want this, but who knows. Plenty of people buy LTE iPads and I wonder how many of them would choose a laptop instead if given the chance.
  7. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Because the LTE networks just aren't up to that sort of computer use on them and when they have been included they haven't sold well.
  8. pmau macrumors 65816

    Nov 9, 2010
    The LTE networks are not the issue. The peering costs for the carriers are.
    They don't want to give you bandwidth because they need to pay when the data leaves their network.
    Since pricing went down so much, no one is willing to pay for data. So they have to limit your use.

    But regarding LTE capable Laptops. Just consider WiFi with a shared spectrum because of the signal limitations.
    LTE must be able to serve more clients, because the cells have to be bigger.

    It would be better to use a mobile WiFi Hotspot if you have multiple clients in a small area. With LTE upstream.
    This is why having 10000 LTE capable devices in one cell is not useful.
  9. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    I have wifi at home, at work, in the bus, in the train, at the cafe - In those extreme few cases where people need cellular connectivity when sitting outside in a grass field surrounded by trolls and unicorns, then they likely have a phone they can use as a modem.
  10. Cybbe macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2004
    In the real working world, there are a multitude of locations where you will not have access to wifi. It could be a meeting or conference outside of your workplace, for instance, or it could be that the crappy public wifi you rely on simply isn't up to the task. I have a modem in my work laptop, and appreciate the times I have to access the Internet outside of my office.
  11. willmtaylor macrumors G3


    Oct 31, 2009
    A Natural State
    Probably bc LTE USB adaptors for cellular providers are so ubiquitous.
  12. jerryk macrumors 68040

    Nov 3, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    When I need LTE I just turn on the wifi hotspot built into my phone
  13. maxsix Suspended


    Jun 28, 2015
    Western Hemisphere
    My workstation class ThinkPads have had built in cellular connectivity for many years. It's highly useful for mobile professionals all over the globe.

    Apple has always ignored wireless connectivity until the competition forced them to become contemporary.

    Android had wireless updates long before iPhone. Tethered to iTunes, tethered to an old school charger, Apple makes a fortune off expensive proprietary cables. Apple's greed keeps them fat and happy.
  14. Steve121178 macrumors 601


    Apr 13, 2010
    Bedfordshire, UK
    It's included in most higher-end business laptops (ThinkPads etc). You won't ever find it in consumer oriented notebooks and I include MacBooks in that.
  15. bootz macrumors member

    Jan 7, 2014
    Exactly...because hotspot.
  16. boston04and07 macrumors 65816


    May 13, 2008
    I'm happy for you that you have access to wifi in so many places. You are clearly very fortunate.

    As I mentioned in my post upthread, I simply don't have that where I live. And no, I am not out sitting in the grass surrounded by trolls and unicorns. I am out working in fairly crowded and mundane places, and wifi access is still always a crapshoot. Take a look at my post upthread regarding why just using my phone as a modem is really very far from ideal for me. I do it now, since I have no other options, but all in all it sucks for regular usage.

    It seems like you're generalizing everyone's needs based on your own experiences, when everyone's needs are very different. LTE access would certainly be an optional add on, so if you'd never buy it anyway, why argue against its optional availability for people who could really use it? I don't get that. There are plenty of things that other people want in the next MBP's that I would never see myself needing, but I don't argue against their inclusion for everyone, especially if they'd be optional and I wouldn't be forced to pay for them if I didn't want to. Clearly there will be plenty of people, probably most, who would never need cellular in a laptop, but that doesn't mean that the reasons that some of us do need it are stupid or inadequate. Again, everyone's needs are different, and it would just be nice if the option were there so that each user can decide for themselves.
  17. Exile714 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 14, 2015
    It sounds like you're in a very small minority here. 1) most people find WiFi fairly ubiquitous, 2) many people don't have much reason to connect their laptops for work use outside WiFi, and 3) in the rare cases where WiFi is unavailable AND data is necessary, a tethered phone or LTE USB are sufficient.

    For these reasons, the added cost and engineering compromises make LTE in laptops undesirable for enough people that Apple probably won't add it to the MacBook Pro. You might argue that they could simply have an LTE version and another without, but the version without would have a hole engineered in it where the LTE would go and that would be more compromise than it's worth for the few like you who need it.
  18. baypharm macrumors 65816


    Nov 15, 2007
    I for sure would love to have LTE built into my MBP. Public WIFI is hit or miss, it can be very slow or fast. The problem I have is the shear numbers of WIFI sniffers out there in places like Starbucks, Panera Bread, public airports, etc. It seems worse in college towns and airports. We developed a series of programs to detect these intrusions by these innocent looking college kids (girls and boys). I can't tell you how many times the alarm has gone off when they tried to grab my systems' settings. These kids are smart. So I for one for one would pay anything to have LTE data built-in as in a SIM card.
  19. poorcody macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2013
    I agree I am loath to use a lot of public Wifi spots these days.

    I used to want cellular access in a laptop. But not since Instant Hotspot came around, because that to me is actually a better solution, since it's quick, easy, and doesn't require giving the cellular carrier another monthly fee.
  20. TechZeke macrumors 68020


    Jul 29, 2012
    Rialto, CA

    The hotspot features works fairly reliably with my 6S Plus on both my rMBP and SP4. I see no need in paying extra money just to have built-in LTE.
  21. Samuel Bradshaw macrumors member

    Jun 10, 2014
    I would love this feature as well. If I had a data connection directly on my computer then I wouldn't need a cell phone, or at least not an expensive smart phone.

    EDIT: Hmm, maybe Apple's smart to not include this feature. If they start adding cellular data in computers, people wouldn't buy as many iPhones and iPads... :)
  22. jerryk macrumors 68040

    Nov 3, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    That is smart. Too often these free hotspots are used by hackers to get data packets from your system. Hopefully people use https instead of http for end to end encryption when it is available.

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