Apple to take Verizon iPhone pre-orders next week

Unlike last year with AT&T's iPhone 4, opens pre-orders just a day before retail sales start

Apple today said it would begin taking pre-orders for the Verizon iPhone 4 from the general public on Feb. 9, just one day before the smartphone goes on sale at retail.

Existing Verizon customers can pre-order an iPhone starting Thursday at 3 a.m. ET, midnight PT, by using the carrier's Web site or Apple's online store.

In a statement, Apple hinted that supplies could be tight.

"Due to high demand, customer orders will be fulfilled on a first come, first served basis," Apple said.

In the past Apple has opened pre-orders earlier. Last June, for example, Apple and AT&T started taking pre-orders for the iPhone 4 on June 15, nine days before the June 24 retail on-sale date.

Apple did not guarantee that pre-orders made on Feb. 9 would reach customers the next day. Consumers can, however, place a pre-order online Feb. 9 that reserves an iPhone 4 for pick-up at an Apple retail store on Feb. 10.

The company's retail stores will open at 7 a.m. local time to accommodate sales of the CDMA iPhone, matching the practice that Apple used last June when it began selling AT&T's iPhone 4.

Current Verizon customers who pre-order an iPhone 4 will receive their smartphones on or before Feb. 10, Apple said. People who pre-order via Verizon's Web site starting tomorrow may also receive their iPhones before Feb. 10, the carrier said in its own statement.

Also on Wednesday, Verizon confirmed the voice, texting and data plan prices that had been widely reported last week.

Voice plans with unlimited texting start at $60 for 450 minutes and climb to $90 per month with unlimited minutes. The single data plan costs $30 per month, and unlike AT&T's, does not cap the amount of data used.

To take advantage of what Apple calls "Personal Hotspot" -- tethering that lets up to five devices connect to the Internet through an iPhone-generated Wi-Fi access point -- customers must pay $20 per month, with a 2GB monthly data allowance. Each additional gigabyte of data, or a fraction of one, runs another $20.

On Feb. 10, Verizon-compatible iPhones will be sold not only by Apple and Verizon at their retail stores, but also at Best Buy, the electronics chain announced today.

The iPhone 4 for Verizon costs $199 for the 16GB model, $299 for the 32GB device, when customers sign up for a two-year contract with the carrier.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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