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Jon Gruber of Daring Fireball said Wednesday that "a few little birdies" told him that a CDMA variant of the iPhone is just two steps away from production. According to the report, the device is in the EVT (engineering verification test) phase, one step below DVT (device verification test).
DVT status, which takes place right before production, is best known as the status of the iPhone 4 test unit that was "lost" in a bar by an Apple engineer in April.
In addition to Gruber's unidentified sources, the report cites several suppliers that have added to recent rumors of a CDMA iPhone. One rumor claimed Qualcomm is set to manufacture millions of CDMA chips for a Verizon iPhone in December. Another report points to Pegatron as a supplier for the CDMA iPhone.
While a CDMA iPhone could work on a number of networks, Verizon, which is the largest wireless provider in the U.S., seems the most likely candidate. A June report by Bloomberg mentioned January 2011 as the target for a Verizon-compatible iPhone launch. According to Gruber, a product currently in EVT would be on track for a January 2011 release.
On Monday, AT&T warned that some of its smartphone exclusivity agreements will soon expire. The news, filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, set off a fresh round of speculation about the expansion of the iPhone to other U.S. carriers. Steven Fox, an analyst with CLSA, cites the new exclusivity references as evidence that Apple could add Verizon as a U.S. carrier by early 2011.