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Apple iPhone 5 vs. Android 4G duel set up at Verizon

Once the iPhone 5 arrives with LTE, the battle with Android will really get interesting.

4G LTE is keeping Android device sales humming.

Verizon continues to sell more Droid devices than Apple iPhones largely due to 4G LTE capability. The Apple-Android duel will be become a lot more interesting when the iPhone 5 launches with LTE. 

The iPhone 5 is still a few months away, but analysts are already upbeat. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster argued in a research note that 80 million iPhone 5 units are in the bag. Munster said:

Our recent survey of 400 consumers confirms our belief that the iPhone will take share over the next few years. In our survey, 65% of phone owners said that their next phone is expected to be an iPhone, which compared to 52% total iPhone ownership in the survey. We also note that the re-buy rate of iPhone users increased slightly y/y to 94% from 93%. Most importantly, 51% of consumers that planned on making the iPhone their next smartphone (whether current iPhone users or not) said they were waiting for the iPhone 5. We believe this suggests that as much as 50% of our estimated iPhone units for FY13 are in the bag (~170 million iPhone users x 94% re-buy x 51% iPhone 5 planned purchase).

Now let's connect a few 4G dots. Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said that the wireless giant activated 2.7 million Apple iPhone devices in the second quarter and 2.9 million Android phones. Of those Android devices, 2.5 million were 4G LTE capable. 

In other words, 4G is driving Android sales as customers opt for bandwidth. Meanwhile, upgrades were a continuing question on Verizon's conference call. Referring to upgrade fluctuations, Shammo said:

There is always that rumor mill out there with a new phone coming out in the fourth quarter, and so people may be waiting.

That new phone is the iPhone 5. If you play the second half out for Verizon, it will have LTE iPhones as well as Android devices. Then the battle between the two dominant mobile platforms will really be enjoined. 

Surely, some of the Android 4G customers will go with the iPhone in the future. The big unknown is how many go iOS over Android. One thing is clear, the iOS vs. Android market share statistics may be in play once both sides are on the same 4G LTE footing at Verizon and other carriers, notably AT&T.