Verizon to offer 'up to' five LTE handsets by next May, Android tablets from HTC and friends

Verizon had already said that it anticipated launching its first LTE handsets in the first half of 2011, but as we're rounding third base toward the launch of Big Red's first commercial 4G markets, it's shedding a little more light on how it thinks this'll all go down. Basically, wireless chief Lowell McAdam says we can expect "up to" five handsets by May of 2011, exactly a year from now -- which could mean anywhere between zero and five, as far as we're concerned -- and that Motorola, LG, HTC, and RIM are all in the running to serve up that first volley of hardware. What's not clear is whether these will make voice calls over CDMA exclusively (a la EVO 4G) or if they'll be compliant with the IMS-based (and GSMA-friendly) voice the company expects to eventually roll out on top of its LTE network, but either way, it's good news.

Turning our attention to Verizon's recent tablet hullabaloo, McAdam says that although "there's no reason [the company] couldn't have an iPad," the first tablets it offers will be Android-based -- yes, "tablets" plural -- and that most of them will launch in the fourth from companies "including Motorola, Samsung and LG." Interestingly, this dovetails rather conveniently with an NVIDIA-powered Motorola tablet with Verizon branding that was briefly (and quietly) shown off at CES this January, so we wouldn't be surprised if that was the unit we ended up getting. None of these devices might end up with the iPad's name recognition, obviously, but an LTE-powered Android tablet with HTC's good design sense certainly can't hurt.