Report: Verizon to get smaller iPhone in 2010

Rumors of a slightly different iPhone coming to Verizon Wireless have flared up again, this time with an analyst pegging its arrival for Q3 of next year.

The report by OTR Global, as reported by AppleInsider, says the new iPhone will be a “worldwide” model, using a hybrid chip from Qualcomm that can support both Verizon’s CDMA2000 network and the UTMS 3G network used by AT&T, T-Mobile and other carriers around the globe.

OTR’s research note says the new iPhone will have a 2.8-inch screen, compared to the current model’s 3.5-inch display, though no other details on the phone were specified. Component photos that appeared last summer (pictured) show a smaller phone, and it’s believed that the new iPhone will be lighter as well.

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I wouldn’t put too much stock in this report quite yet. Talk of an iPhone Nano has been around for a while, including one report from DigiTimes last January and another from iDeals China in late 2008. Both reports suggested that a smaller iPhone would launch in 2009, but that seems unlikely now. In April, BusinessWeek reported that an “iPhone Lite” was in the works and on the way to Verizon, along with a larger media-centric device (the rumored Apple tablet, likely, though more recent reports say this device is sticking with AT&T).

Other analysts have foretold the end of AT&T’s iPhone exclusivity in 2010, and even AT&T chief executive Ralph De La Vega acknowledged that the company’s deal with Apple would eventually end. What I don’t understand is why Verizon — or anyone else for that matter — be interested in a considerably smaller device. Most smartphones without a physical keyboard on the face have screens of three to four inches, so a 2.8-inch iPhone screen would seem tiny by comparison. Besides, the extra real estate comes in handy for gaming and other apps.

There might be a niche that is interested in a smaller iPhone, but I think Verizon would be wise to pick up the full-sized device as well.