Rumorville: Verizon iPhone to be LTE-capable after all?

By Ben Patterson ben Patterson – Mon Dec 13, 4:07 pm ET
Just about every report we've seen in the last few months claiming that an iPhone for Verizon is on the way has specifically stated that the iPhone would support only Verizon's 3G network, not its just-launched 4G LTE network. One Apple rumor site, however, begs to differ.
Citing but a single source whom "we believe to be credible" (so make sure you've got a grain of salt handy, preferably a big one), MacDailyNews claims that the rumored [COLOR=#366388 !important][COLOR=#366388 !important]Verizon[/COLOR][/COLOR] iPhone — which, of course, has yet to be confirmed yet — will be "LTE-capable," and that the carrier plans on marketing it as the only "LTE iPhone" around.
MacDailyNews' source claims that Verizon has been busy training staffers on the new iPhone, which could be announced "right after" Christmas — apparently to give AT&T a little breathing room for holiday iPhone sales.
Verizon launched its new 4G LTE network barely a week ago, with coverage in 38 cities including Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, [COLOR=#366388 !important][COLOR=#366388 !important]San [COLOR=#366388 !important]Francisco[/COLOR][/COLOR][/COLOR] and Seattle.
For now, Verizon is selling a single LTE device, a Pantech USB modem, with a second modem from LG slated to arrive shortly. The carrier says it will have LTE-compatible smartphones on sale by the middle of next year, but it hasn't tipped its hand on which LTE smartphones will come first.
One of the biggest reasons that many observers — myself included — figure that the first Verizon iPhone would be 3G-only is because Verizon's LTE network offers such limited coverage at the moment.
But MacDailyNews claims that the rumored LTE iPhone would be backward-compatible with Verizon's existing 3G network, which blankets most of the country.
Another interesting but unconfirmed tidbit in the MacDailyNews post is that Apple's original plan was to have a next-generation, LTE-only iPhone 5 ready for next summer, but that [COLOR=#366388 !important][COLOR=#366388 !important]Steve [COLOR=#366388 !important]Jobs[/COLOR][/COLOR][/COLOR] is "upset" that the various U.S. carriers "cannot seem to get their LTE act together more quickly."
Enticing stuff, but even the bloggers at MacDailyNews admit that they "cannot independently confirm the information at this time" — and frankly, I simply don't believe the rumor.
Why not? Consider the very first iPhone, which arrived as an EDGE-only handset at a time (mid-2007) when there were already several 3G-enabled smartphones on the market (like the Motorola Q, the [COLOR=#366388 !important][COLOR=#366388 !important]Palm [COLOR=#366388 !important]Treo[/COLOR][/COLOR][/COLOR] 700p and the HTC Touch, to name a few.) The reason, according to Jobs: Existing 3G chipsets were "not low-power enough" and "took up too much physical space."
If Apple is indeed prepping an [COLOR=#366388 !important][COLOR=#366388 !important]iPhone [COLOR=#366388 !important]for [/COLOR][COLOR=#366388 !important]Verizon[/COLOR][/COLOR][/COLOR] (and remember, Apple has yet to confirm it) my guess is that [COLOR=#366388 !important][COLOR=#366388 !important]Cupertino[/COLOR][/COLOR] would follow the same pattern that it did with the original iPhone, sticking with tried-and-true data technology first before taking the leap to a next-generation network down the road, after the kinks (like this one) have been ironed out.
That's not to say Apple's strategy is the right one, by the way — it's just what Apple's done before, and I bet they'll do it again.
So that's my non-insider prediction: a 3G-only Verizon iPhone early next year, with an LTE version later in 2011 or (more likely) 2012.
But hey — I've been wrong before.
What do you think: Will the rumored Verizon iPhone work on the carrier's LTE network? Or will Apple play it safe and wait before going the LTE way?