More LTE-enabled Chromebooks are on the way

A new Chromebook reference board codename “blacktiplte” hints at wider LTE adoption in Chrome OS. Earlier this year, development started on eSIM support for Chrome OS, signaling the second-coming of LTE Chromebooks after they died out a few years ago. Since then, only two Chromebooks have been seen in development with LTE enabledCheza and Nautilus.

Cheza, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Chromebook, has been heavily tied to eSIM implementation. Unfortunately, Cheza is still in development after more than a year on the public Chromium repository. Codename Nautilus (the development name for the Samsung Chromebook Plus V2) recently got its LTE sibling too, implying that Samsung will be releasing a Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 LTE variant or even the Chromebook Pro V2.

In recent developments, a new board codename “blacktiplte” has arrived on the public Chromium repository. Blacktiplte is based on the Apollo Lake architecture (like the Acer Chromebook Spin 11 2018 or Asus C223NA), and its name tells a story.

The original blacktip board is a “white label” design. ODMs (Original Design Manufacturers) like Quanta create a white label device that brands can purchase and slap their own branding on.

The naming convention of blacktiplte implies that a) it will be a white label device like its namesake and b) LTE – it’s in the name! It’s too early to tell whether blacktiplte will be eSIM or standard SIM, but it would be reasonable to expect eSIM given the timing. Regardless, this signals wider adoption of LTE beyond Nautilus and Cheza.

Given what we know of Nautilus and Cheza, they are sure to command a high price. Less financially fortunate digital nomads can now turn their attention to blacktiplte. It’s likely that this new LTE variant will carry the same standard of hardware as the rest of the blacktip/coral family. The Apollo Lake platform usually sells at the lower-mid range, so we can expect a more palatable price tag for blacktiplte.

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