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Verizon will launch its first 4G phone at CES and it won’t be the iPhone

ThunderboltVerizon will be announcing something at CES next week, and it’s probably not going to be iPhone availability. The carrier recently announced it was launching its 4G service, and previous statements by CEO Ivan Seidenberg have led some to believe that the addition of this technology was appealing enough for Apple to finally break its exclusivity with AT&T. So when word about a Verizon debut at CES started circulating, wishful thinkers thought it could be the long-awaited Verizon iPhone.

Well, it’s probably not. Instead, new reports are suggesting that Verizon will indeed be premiering its first 4G capable smartphone, but that it’s going to be an HTC creation. Verizon announced yesterday that on January 6 it will introduce “a sneak peek of Android-based 4G LTE consumer devices” in a news conference. What exactly those devices are, Verizon wouldn’t say – but the Android blog, Droid Life, did. The blog claims Verizon will show off the HTC Thunderbolt, which is reminiscent of Sprint’s 4G phone, the HTC Evo.

Verizon 4G

The Thunderbolt will feature Verizon’s LTE 4G network, a 4.3-inch screen, and a kickstand, which are the only specs to be mentioned at this point. But HTC is also indicating its involvement in the release, as it features a promo on its site boasting that come January 6 it will be “The first to 4G, again.” Add to that a few more leaked (or purposefully revealed) images of a new HTC device (code-named “Mecha”) that appear to be very similar to our first look at the Thunderbolt, and it’s safe to say we’ve got a good idea what we’ll be seeing from Verizon on January 6.

Verizon’s 4G network began operations on December 5, but the only devices released with the technology were USB modems primarily marketed for businesses. Now, the carrier looks ready to reach out to a wider demographic. Despite any hype surrounding Verizon’s release, there is sure to be some letdown when or if there is no iPhone announcement from the carrier at CES. ReadWriteWeb is willing to say that it will be “one of the biggest tech disappointments of 2011.” A considerable amount of attention surrounded the possibility this fall, when the Wall Street Journal reported that the Verizon iPhone was imminent, but it’s looking like fans of the partnership will have to be patient.