If there’s one thing Apple’s mobile products have taken a lot of criticism for recently, it’s their lack of LTE support. The company released a new tablet and handset last year — neither of which contained the popular 4G technology.

While nearly every Android partner has implemented LTE into their products, Apple has continued to ignore the tech in favor of battery life and reliability. But they may not have a choice in the matter in future Verizon-bound products…

CNET is reporting that Verizon has announced a “hard requirement” for future smartphones, tablets, and other devices to contain the LTE technology. This appears to be a firm strategy for the carrier moving forward, but there will be some exceptions:

“From now on, nearly every smartphone, wireless hot spot, tablet, and netbook that Verizon offers will come with LTE guns-a-blazing. Yes, Virginia, that includes Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices, too. There will be the occasional exception, however. For instance, phones on Verizon’s push-to-talk network are 3G-only for now, and will remain that way until further notice.”

Will Apple follow Verizon’s new requirement? No. That doesn’t mean that its next round of iOS devices won’t feature LTE technology, it just means it won’t implement it just because Verizon says so. Apple is one of the few companies that has enough clout to stand up to large carriers, and it has a history of ignoring their rules. Notice how the iPhone doesn’t sport carrier logos on its hardware or come with pre-installed bloatware.

That being said, this could just be the year that Apple decides to hop on the LTE train. Not only are smaller, more advanced LTE chipsets starting to surface, but buildout has really increased. Almost 2/3 of the US is blanked by LTE networks.

[MacRumors]