Verizon iPhone: How important is 4G LTE capability?

Verizon iPhone:

How important is 4G LTE capability?

By Larry Dignan | January 9, 2011, 1:26pm PST

Verizon Wireless will launch its iPhone on Tuesday and the tech industry is abuzzabout the possibilities.

The most interesting item of the Verizon iPhone launch may revolve around support for Long-Term Evolution connectivity.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the iPhone will be available at Verizon about the end of January. Others are busy handicapping whether Apple CEO Steve Jobs will be at the Verizon launch. The iPhonewill have unlimited data plans on Verizon, a big difference from AT&T, according to the Journal.

For me, the Verizon iPhone launch really boils down to three letters: LTE. Here’s my situation:

  • Contract at Verizon Wireless has expired.
  • I’ve basically drooled over an iPhone on Verizon for three years.
  • I have kind of gotten over the iPhone thing and would be fine with an Android phone.
  • First phone to LTE—perhaps the Motorola Bionic at right—wins.
  • I have no desire to sign a two-year contract and restrict myself to 3G.
  • Also note that I don’t need LTE coverage today, but want the option when 4G fires up for smartphones.

The other wild-card here is I want an LTE phone that can act as a hotspot for my laptop. Bonus if I can carry a second battery since LTE will burn through a lot of juice.

In a dream world on Tuesday, I’d want to hear that the Verizon iPhone is LTE ready. And since Verizon’s network is so swell you can tether or use it as a Mi-Fi for an extra charge.

The chances of me hearing those items are slim and none. If Apple had an LTE capable iPhone it would be holding its own event.

Now this calculus will be irrelevant for most folks—there is so much pent-up demand for a Verizon iPhone that Apple will move millions of devices in the first quarter alone. My hang-up is that I have been holding out for LTE speeds. If the Verizon iPhone only does CDMA as expected, then my decision matrix goes like this:

  • Wait for iPhone 5 and see if there’s LTE.
  • Go with a Motorola, Samsung or HTC LTE phone in March.
  • Cave and sign up for another two years of 3G, but look a lot cooler on the commute to New York City.

That last one isn’t going to happen: It’s hard for me to ever look cool and I’m not restricting myself to 3G. In a nutshell, the iPhone will be quite welcome at Verizon Wireless, but LTE may be a hang-up for a few techie types.