Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Verizon iPhone 4 announced; should users buy now or wait for the summer's iPhone 5?

John Oliver, representing "The Daily Show" at the Verizon iPhone event, expressed the feelings of many U.S. consumers just prior to the event. He said, or rather shouted, "F*ck yeah! Thank you! Oh, thank God! Thank you!"

Indeed, as expected, Verizon announced that the iPhone was coming to the Verizon network. Also as expected, it's the iPhone 4. And, finally, also as expected, there was no sign of Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Instead, Apple COO Tim Cook was in attendance.

Since it's the iPhone 4, in terms of the hardware, the only difference is the CDMA chipset, as opposed to the GSM chipset in the AT&T version. Although this event was about the Verizon iPhone, it should be noted that other CDMA networks exist globally so it's likely they will be supported as well, since it is a non-exclusive deal, they said.

In terms of the voice / data call issue with CDMA (CDMA does not support both voice and data at the same time), there have been no changes to allow that with the iPhone 4. There is a modification to the CDMA spec, SVDO, that allows simultaneous voice and data, but it hasn't been adopted by any carrier yet, and it appears the Verizon iPhone won't be the first, either.

Pricing is the same as on AT&T's network: $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, but Verizon will include its mobile hotspot service, which will support up to 5 devices. Pre-orders begin Feb. 3 for existing Verizon only, with devices in retail on Feb. 10, and online orders opening up for all.

Potential Verizon iPhone buyers may need to think a little, before jumping on the bandwagon. As we've pointed out before, a new version of the iPhone, most likely including a CDMA version, will appear in the summer. Should buyers hop onto this phone now, they will then be unable to upgrade to the iPhone 5 (or whatever it's called).

Also, a CDMA version of the iPhone 4 will be significantly slower than the iPhone 4 on AT&T, as several have already noted with real-life testing. That said, in areas of the country where congestion on AT&T's network don't allow full-speed, it is assumed that Verizon's network will be more capable of handling the load, and being able to connect, and not drop calls, is an attraction.

No ability to use voice / data simultaneously may surprise people, but as Tim Cook said during the press conference, people will adjust.

On the plus side, the 5-device mobile hotspot is huge. There was no pricing information given, but other devices on Verizon's network require an extra fee for hotspot use, so the iPhone will almost certainly have it as well.

Finally, users will be able to have an unlimited data plan on the iPhone 4 on Verizon. That's not possible on AT&T, at least unless a user was "grandfathered in."

Will you move from AT&T for the Verizon iPhone? Will you upgrade your Verizon phone to an iPhone 4? Comment below.

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