2012 will likely go down as the year when LTE became a standard smartphone feature rather than a luxury. Strategy Analytics has put out new research this week showing that the fourth quarter of 2012 “witnessed phenomenal +1100% annual growth for LTE handset volumes, led by Apple (AAPL) and Samsung (005930) in developed markets.” 2012 was certainly a banner year for LTE in the United States after Sprint (S) finally got around to launching its own LTE services and both Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T) continued expanding their LTE networks to cover the majority of major markets throughout the country. With much of the U.S. now covered, carriers’ next big milestone will be deploying Voice over LTE (VoLTE) services that will let users make calls over LTE and thus potentially end the need for separate voice and data plans.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.