Apple Delays 4G LTE iPhone to 2012

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Apple's ( AAPL) Verizon iPhone -- the one you've been waiting for -- will keep you waiting another year.

The iPhone 5, due out sometime this summer, will not be an LTE 4G phone, says Telecom Pragmatics analyst Sam Greenholtz, who has talked with people close to the matter.

"The next iPhone -- the iPhone 6 -- is an LTE version under development now with production aimed for a June/July launch next year," Greenholtz said, citing his sources. Checks with several industry insiders and analysts also support Greenholtz' information. Apple did not comment, and Verizon ( VZ) said it had "nothing to announce."

The news comes as speculation heats up on Wall Street Thursday around the possibility of an iPhone 5 launch at AT&T ( T) this summer and a separate iPhone 5 launch at Verizon later this year or next, according to a note from a supply channel research shop.

Not only will the lack of a 4G Verizon iPhone likely disappoint everyone who passed on the iPhone 4 in hopes of buying one that would run on Verizon's fastest network, it also keeps Apple in the middle of the pack behind more muscular Google ( GOOG) Android phones. Motorola ( MMI), HTC and LG are all prepping 4G LTE Android phones, which are among the 10 LTE devices coming to Verizon as early as this spring.

"I don't think Apple saw this level of hardware competition when they locked in iPhone 5 specs," says MKM Partners analyst Tero Kuittinen, referring to Apple's component decisions.

The iPhone 5 is expected to be a world phone designed to work on European networks, the HSDPA-Plus network that AT&T ( T) has dubbed 4G, and on Verizon's 3G network.

Other improvements include a possibly bigger 4-inch screen, a dual-core processor and, as we first reported last year, an 8-megapixel Sony ( SNE) camera.

"They are basically playing catch up," says Rodman Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar, referring to the features that are, or have been, common to phones from top-tier rivals.

The news comes as Apple prepares to launch a new version of its tablet, the iPad 2, next week. CEO Steve Jobs, who is out indefinitely due to illness, is not likely to be the master of ceremonies. And his absence from the event will once again revive questions of how the company can continue its phenomenal success streak without him.

The delayed LTE iPhone may be the first big test of acting-chief COO Tim Cook's persuasiveness.

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To some analysts, though, the lack of LTE in the iPhone 5 isn't a huge problem.

"It's too early to push LTE now; it's too much cost and too much of a sacrifice on battery life and it doesn't give you any great advantage at this point," says independent analyst Chris Umiastowski, formerly with TD Newcrest.

Still, for Apple fans who must have the latest and greatest, the LTE 4G delay will not come as pleasant news. And unlike Jobs, who would somehow find a way to turn this news positive, Cook could have a harder time smoothing it over.

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.

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