Update: Etisalat must have gotten some cranky calls from Apple's carrier relations team, because the company has officially denied any mention of an upcoming iPhone model. SaudiMac reports that a blog post from the carrier now insists "At no point did Etisalat confirm that any new iPhone device will be launched in 2011." Thanks to @mazmohad and @khaled for the heads-up.
Dubai's Gulf News is reporting that United Arab Emirates-based carrier Etisalat is in talks with Apple to sell a 4G iPhone 5 later this year. Ali Al Ahmad, Chief Corporate Communication Officer of Etisalat told the Gulf News, "Yes, we are in talks with most smartphone manufacturers including Apple on the rollout of the 4G handset, iPhone 5 later this year. As the first telecom organization to roll out the 4G network, LTE, in the Middle East, we have already started talking to them for the handsets and chipsets in them."
However, despite Ahmad's assertion on an LTE iPhone 5 later this year, readers should approach this news with caution. Right now there are no solid facts about the next iPhone. The next iPhone will be the fifth-generation iPhone, but no one can even agree on its name, let alone the telecommunications technology it will have.
Some say the fifth generation iPhone will be called the "iPhone 4S," while others say it will be known as the "iPhone 5." However, regardless of the name, there are rumors that the iPhone won't see 4G LTE until the sixth generation iPhone (which could very well be called the "iPhone 5"). It's entirely possible that carrier executives like Ahmad could be confusing the version and name with associated telecommunications technology.
But at the risk of fanning the flames, it's also possible that Apple could roll out a 4G LTE-equipped iPhone in the fall. The company is pushing back the new iPhone hardware launch later this year than in the past and the extra time could provide the wiggle room to wait until there are enough 4G chips ready in a slim enough form factor to fit the next generation iPhone without compromising its design -- something current 4G chips can't do.