Hey Verizon! Can you hear me now?

Ah, the Verizon iPhone. In our bizarre careers as tech journalists, if there’s one question we’ve heard more than “When is Verizon getting the iPhone?” we can’t think of it. Also, outside the original rumors for the iPhone and iPad, we can’t think of another product so heavily teased by those in the know and those not in the know — though mostly by those not in the know.

But then we heard Verizon is having a little get together on Tuesday, which is particularly odd timing because Verizon has a huge presence and a large amount of announcements at this year’s CES. Rumors of the event being a Verizon iPhone announce immediately flared up, but there were still reservations: Apple usually announces its own products at its own corporate campus — why would Verizon be doing the honors in NY?

That’s when the Wall Street Journal swooped in with a confirmation: the Verizon iPhone will be announced on Tuesday, and WSJ’s All Things D even thinks Steve Jobs will be there. So, who is this fly-by-night “Wall Street Journal” publication we speak of? They have one of the best track track records on Apple rumors in the business, and they’ve been leading the Verizon iPhone predictions from day one. Follow after the break as we talk it out.
Back in March the WSJ said that there would be a new iPhone in the summer (not much of a stretch), and that an additional Verizon iPhone would go into production in September. After the iPhone 4 happened, new Verizon rumors started in earnest, with Bloomberg’s crack financial reporters and Apple pundit John Gruber independently citing a January launch date. Then the WSJ followed up in October with some harder facts: again, the VZW iPhone would be in mass production before the end of the year and launch early next year. WSJ also claimed the phone would be running a CDMA chipset from Qualcomm — and we’ve heard similar rumblings from good sources (something that previously seemed unlikely, and a knock against imminent Verizon iPhone potential). The WSJ also said there’s a separate brand-new iPhone in the works as well, which would presumably launch in the summer once again, another thing that we’ve heard around the campfire (and which appeals to our common sense).

Yesterday we saw tweaked iPhone 4 parts with slightly different internals and an altered antenna configuration, adding considerable fuel to the fire — which intensified further when YouTube pulled the video of the parts, presumably due to a “copyright claim from Apple, Inc.”

That leads us to today. WSJ has confidently confirmed an iPhone launch at Verizon’s announced Tuesday event, and considering their track record we have no reason to doubt them.

The biggest question right now seems to be whether or not the Verizon iPhone will have LTE. Obviously, Verizon has launched its LTE network in a big way, with plenty of upcoming devices, but it sounds out of character for Apple to jump on so early — they famously went with EDGE for the original iPhone, despite 3G being a rather mature tech on AT&T at that point. Of course, Qualcomm makes a Gobi chipset that has LTE along with EV-DO backwards compatibility, and there is a SIM slot in those parts photos (LTE requires a SIM, EV-DO doesn’t). It will probably remain a mystery until Tuesday, but our money is on no LTE — there’s always the iPhone 5 launch in the summer to offer an LTE upgradeportunity. Overall we’re probably looking at an iPhone 4 that runs on Verizon, nothing fancier for now. Rumor has it that the phone will begin to ship in February, after this January announce.

Speaking of, a word of warning: in your rush to buy a Verizon iPhone, you might be locking yourself into a contract you’ll be dying to break when the iPhone 5 launches in the summer. Apple typically keeps its product cycles at around a year to avoid this sort of regret, but a Verizon iPhone launching in the middle of the iPhone 4’s lifespan really throws a wrench into those proceedings. Oh, and speaking of contracts, Verizon is about to up its early upgrade policy to 20 months instead of the typical 12 (as in, you have to wait 20 months to get a new fully subsidized phone), so if you recently got a phone on Verizon you might have a bit of a wait before you get a cheap upgrade to the iPhone.