The mythical Verizon iPhone has arrived

Somewhere deep in the heart of the AT&T headquarters, their executives are huddled around holding a vigil to mourn the loss of the exclusive US contract. Likewise, Google execs are probably throwing chairs at the wall screaming “I thought we had something special!”

No longer a mythical unicorn, the much anticipated Verizon iPhone is now a reality. Available February 3 for existing Verizon customers (props to them for that) and then February 10 for everyone else.

The new device is almost exactly like the old one except for some small differences:

  • CDMA radio instead of GSM, this also means a slightly altered external antenna design
  • Support for Verizon Mobile Hotspot, allowing 5 devices to connect to the iPhone and use Verizon’s data service

There are a few of differences with Verizon and AT&T that should be pointed out:

  1. Verizon’s data network is larger, meaning more bars in more places.
  2. AT&T’s data network is faster, meaning when you get service you’re going to cruise faster.
  3. CDMA technology doesn’t allow for simultaneous voice and data usage. If you’re on a call and want to look up on Google Maps where to meet your friend for lunch? Too bad. Gotta wait for your call to end.

The biggest disappointment, but not unexpected, is that the Verizon iPhone will not support LTE technology, which would have allowed for faster data transfers and simultaneous voice and data. However, given that Verizon’s LTE network just started rolling out a few months ago, this isn’t surprising that Apple chose not to support it. It would have also required further alterations to the iPhone.

The unknown right now is what version of iOS this new CDMA iPhone will run. Will the iOS 4.2.1 guts support it? Will it require a 4.2.2 update? Will we get 4.3? Will the GSM and CDMA phones run the same iOS version? Or will it all be some sort of carrier update that doesn’t involve the a new version of iOS?

Last, Apple COO Tim Cook left the door wide open to future networks when he said this contract with Verizon is multi-year but non-exclusive.

Let the Sprint iPhone discussion commence.

(Or T-Mobile, if anyone still cares about them.)

Updated: It seems that the new iOS version will be 4.2.5, via Engadget who got to play with one after the announcement.


Originally published at techvirtuoso.com on January 11, 2011.