iPhone 4 HandDespite the increasing success of Apple’s mobile devices — the iPhone and the iPad in particular — I think the Cupertino company would have difficult time maintaing interest in the iPhone 5 and the iPad 3 if neither device features 4G LTE capabilities. Rival handsets have been offering the feature for some time now, and it seems our patience in waiting for Apple to implement it is quickly running out.

It’s no surprise to hear, then, that the company is looking to introduce 4G LTE connectivity to both the iPhone and the iPad for the first time with its next-generation releases. According to a report from the well-respected Japanese publication Nikkei Business, Apple CEO Tim Cook has already met with local carrier NTT DoCoMo to discuss its launch.

The two companies have reached a deal to bring an iPad 3 with 4G LTE capabilities to Japan next summer, according to the report, with a 4G-capable iPhone 5 following shortly after in the fall. Though the report focuses specifically on the deal between Apple and the Japanese carrier, it is expected that the devices will also launch with 4G support for carriers in the U.S.

A lack of 4G data speeds is one of the things holding back the iPhone 4S in South Korea, with Apple one of the last remaining companies to embrace 4G technology. Rival Android devices from the likes of HTC, Motorola, and Samsung have been offering the super speedy connectivity for some time.

However, a statement issued today from NTT DoCoMo denies any deal with Apple:

Thanks for your patronage is NTT DoCoMo’s services and products, Thank you. Today, in some reports, the company Apple “iPhone” and “iPad” There were reports indicating the start of treatment. At the moment, “iPhone” and “iPad” Handling of the fact that no basic agreement with the company Apple. Moreover, at present, “iPhone” and “iPad” regarding the handling of, and there is the fact that concrete negotiations with Apple.

Despite this statement, we still feel there is a little truth in Nikkei’s report. Previous rumors have already claimed Apple would introduce 4G to the next iPhone, and, as TechRadar notes, Nikkei’s track record with previous Apple rumors has been impressive — giving the rumor a little more substance.

Do you think the next iPhone and iPad need 4G capabilities, or can you live without it?

[via TechRadar]