Apple iPhones with iOS 4.3 Will Receive Personal Hotspot: Report

Apple will give iPhones with iOS 4.3 the same "personal hotspot" capability offered with the upcoming Verizon iPhone.

Apple plans on expanding the new Verizon iPhone 4's "Personal Hotspot" feature to iPhones on other carriers, according to information posted on the Boy Genius Report blog. Verizon's Personal Hotspot connects the smartphone with up to five WiFi-enabled devices.

"According to our source, the personal hotspot feature that debuted on the Verizon iPhone yesterday will, in fact, be making its way to all iPhones in iOS 4.3," read the Boy Genius Report's Jan. 12 posting. "We're sure there will need to be carrier support for this feature, and for AT&T users, it is entirely possible we might not see this right away."

The posting added: "We are told the OS version will be 8F5148b, the baseband will be 04.08.00 and technical acceptance is planned for March."

Apple and Verizon executives unveiled one of the technology world's worst-kept secrets Jan. 11, when they showed off an iPhone 4 capable of running on the carrier's CDMA-based (Code Division Multiple Access-based) network.

The Verizon iPhone 4, slated for general release Feb. 10, will sell for $199 for the 16GB model or $299 for the 32GB model with a two-year contract. That being said, the smartphone will not use the carrier's faster LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network currently going online in a number of cities because of what Apple COO Tim Cook referred to as his company's unwillingness to make compromises in hardware design.

The Verizon iPhone 4 closely resembles the AT&T version in both hardware and software, with some subtle but notable changes to the smartphone's exterior antenna rim. Over the summer, AT&T iPhone 4 purchasers complained that touching that rim with bare skin resulted in signal dampening, a public-relations snafu that Apple tried to combat by offering free rubber bumpers-which covered the rim-to initial customers.

Cook suggested during the Jan. 11 press conference that the Verizon iPhone 4's antenna rim had been optimized for the CDMA network. While different analysts hold different theories, the general consensus seems to be that the iPhone on Verizon will boost device sales for Apple at a time when it finds itself locked in a fierce battle with Google Android smartphones, which have proliferated on the market over the past several quarters.

Although Apple has a history of updating the iPhone every summer, Cook declined to offer any schedule for future releases, or specify whether AT&T and Verizon iPhones would be refreshed at the same time or on a staggered schedule.