Release of 'Verizon iPhone' set for early February

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The original iPhone 4

In a Tuesday media event, Verizon Wireless announced it had reached an agreement with Apple Inc. and would begin selling a CDMA version of the iPhone 4 beginning early February. The move means the end of rival company AT&T's status as the only official US carrier of the iPhone, a status it held since the first iPhone debuted in 2007.

The press conference, held in New York City, was hosted by Verizon's president, Lowell McAdam, Apple's chief operating officer, Tim Cook, and Verizon Wireless' chief executive officer, Dan Mead. Neither Verizon Communications CEO Ivan Seidenberg nor Apple CEO Steve Jobs attended the conference. During the event, McAdam said, "If the press writes something long enough and hard enough, it eventually comes true. We're bringing the fruit of our labor with a giant partner, and that's Apple." Such a partnership had been rumored for years, and the amount of speculation grew over the past few months.

iPhone 4 pre-orders for current Verizon users begin February 3, and a public release is scheduled for February 10. The "Verizon iPhone," as it has been dubbed for months, has been altered from the original iPhone 4 so it can utilize Verizon's 3G CDMA (code division multiple access) network. This means, however, that Verizon iPhone users will not be able to use the company's 4G LTE (long term evolution) network, and will thus be unable to make calls and access the Internet at the same time. Cook told the audience that the LTE hardware was not ready yet, saying, "The first generation LTE chip sets force some design compromises, some of which we would not make. Secondly—and most importantly—Verizon Wireless customers have told us they want the iPhone now." However, Verizon's iPhone 4 allows the user to create a personal Wi-Fi hotspot, which means up to five other wireless devices can connect to the Internet through the phone.

Pricing was announced as US$199 for a 16 GB version and US$299 for a 32 GB version, both requiring two-year contracts—the same cost for an AT&T iPhone 4. However, Verizon said it would not mention the cost of data plans at this time, with Mead saying, "We talked about the device pricing, but we're not going to talk about the pricing for the network for that connectivity."