Is an LTE iPhone coming this year?

A 4G LTE iPhone is on the way, one site says. The catch: It may not be a 4G LTE iPhone 5.

An LTE iPhone is on the way, according to one new report.

Apple is in the process of testing 4G LTE technology on its phones, according to a new dispatch from the tech site Boy Genius Report. If the gents at Boy Genius Report are right – and they have a good track record – that could mean that the next couple generations of iPhones will work with the Verizon and AT&T 4G networks, a major improvement over the current 3G networks. So will the iPhone 5 be LTE-powered? Well, not so fast.

"BGR has obtained evidence of an internal iOS test build from one of Apple’s major carrier partners, and buried in the firmware is a property list (.plist file) for LTE," Jonathan S. Geller of BGR writes today. "This doesn’t necessarily mean every Apple device that’s about to be released will feature an embedded 4G LTE modem, but it certainly means Apple isn’t sitting on the sidelines as 4G LTE networks continue to roll out around the world."

What does this tell us about Apple's lineup? LTE is coming, but maybe not this year. Remember that Apple has an odd history with new standards. It champions some immediately (Thunderbolt), abandons others prematurely (Flash), and only embraces them on Apple's terms. The original iPhone didn't have 3G, even though 3G networks blanketed the US at the time.

Last we heard on the iPhone 5 front, the (as-of-yet) mythical device had entered the final stage of testing, and was already being hauled around by "high level Apple and carrier executives." The iPhone 5 – which maybe will resemble the current iPhone, or maybe will look totally different – is now expected to hit shelves next month, in plenty of time for the start of the holiday shopping season.

A September release date, of course, would be late for Apple, which tends to reliably refresh its product lines every year. Over at Wired, Christina Bonnington wonders if the delay has to do with increased testing – possibly in order "to avoid something like last year’s Antennagate fiasco (which really, in the scheme of things, was not that big of a deal)."

Our theory has always been a little simpler: the white iPhone 4 released late, and Apple didn't want to step on its own toes.

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