As the "iPhone's coming to Verizon in 2011" rumor mill heats up — with both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal lending creedence to the scuttlebutt — the latest question is "will the vPhone be a 4G phone?" Mind you, we're not talking about the physical phone itself — at this point, it's a given it'll follow the form factor of the iPhone 4. No, we're talking about the data network itself. Both Verizon and AT&T have announced plans to implement their own 4G networks, both based on the Long-Term Evolution (or LTE) standard, in 2011 as well.
Now here's where things get, in the words of Arte Johnson, verrrrry interesting…
According to TechCrunch, the first Verizon/CDMA iPhone will not support LTE. Now the kicker: sources say that the iPhone will be refreshed in mid-'11…and it STILL won't support LTE. Instead, Apple will roll out a dual-mode iPhone that supports both CDMA and GSM protocols, meaning it will work on both Verizon and AT&T's networks.
Apple apparently feels — and based on historical data, rightly so — that any cell carrier rolling out a full LTE 4G network will take longer, and hit more speed bumps, than expected. Remember, 3G networks were up and running back in 2007, but the House of Jobs originally hedged their bets and unveiled the iPhone as an AT&T EDGE-network-compliant phone, waiting until the Death Star got all the kinks out of 3G. (And yes, some would argue they're STILL working on it. [Rim-shot…]) In the same way, Apple feels that an incremental phone upgrade that wrings every last drop of performance out of the current network standard will tide everyone concerned over until the next-gen upgrade puts the "work" in "network…"