As predicted, Verizon finally announced at a press conference today that it will be offering an iPhone of its own to compete with AT&T starting Feb. 10. Here are nine things you need to know about the hotly anticipated new smartphone option:
1. You can't use your existing AT&T iPhone with Verizon
Angry AT&T iPhone users can't simply switch their phones over to Verizon next month. AT&T iPhones aren't compatible with Verizon's CDMA network.
2. The Verizon iPhone is comparably priced
The phone will cost the same as AT&T models: $199 for 16GB and $299 for 32GB. Those prices require a two-year contract with Verizon, which has yet to announce how much it will charge for its voice and data plans. Pricing "could give the carrier an advantage over AT&T," says Daniel Ionescu at PCWorld. Verizon will also reportedly offer unlimited data plans, something AT&T no longer does.
3. It has a different antenna
The Verizon iPhone has a different antenna design than the troubled iPhone AT&T distributes, but that doesn't mean reception will be much improved, say tech commentators. The new design "doesn't necessarily correspond to any difference in performance," says Wilson Rothman at MSNBC, who adds that "thorough testing" will be required.
4. Verizon's data network has limitations
While Verizon's CDMA network "should give you greater calling reliability," it won't work as well for data as AT&T's, says Tim Siglin at Streaming Media. Users won't be able to make a phone call and look up something online at the same time — basically "all the stuff that Apple shows in its ads" — and the data rates will be slower. Really, "Apple's releasing an iPhone that is a step backwards from its global status quo."
5. It's not a good traveler
The CDMA Verizon iPhone will only work in about 40 countries, and it lacks a GSM chip for "true worldwide roaming." By comparison, GSM-based AT&T iPhones can reportedly offer 3G roaming in more than 130 countries, data coverage in more than 200, and voice in more than 220. "If you travel often, you would be better off with an AT&T iPhone," says Ionescu.
6. It doesn't come with a free case
Apple offered free bumpers for all iPhone 4 customers, though only through the end of September. Verizon iPhone users will have to spring for their own cases.
7. And cases for AT&T iPhones probably won't fit
There are some "minor physical differences" on the Verizon iPhone — in addition to the tweaked antenna design, the ring/silent switch has been moved down a bit. There's a "good chance" that the openings on cases for the original iPhone 4 won't correspond, says Dan Frakes at Macworld.com.
8. Also, it's not white (yet)
The possibility of a white iPhone 4 has become a fixation for Apple zealots. AT&T versions come only in black, and the official line from Verizon is that a white model won't be on offer next month. Think spring, says Apple.
9. But, the Verizon version is a total hotspot
The Verizon iPhone will function as a versatile mobile hotspot, allowing users to connect as many as five devices to it, taking advantage of its internet connection. AT&T users can only tether a single device to their iPhones.