iPhone 4 hits Verizon, the good, the bad

As expected Apple's iPhone 4 is coming to Verizon following (it was revealed) a two-year strategic consultation between the firms, and there's good -- and bad -- news in this reality. iOS developers meanwhile should get ready to party as the iPhone economy is about to go "boom" all over again.

While it missed a CES launch, iPhone was introduced by Lowell McAdam, president and chief operating officer of Verizon and also by Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer. (Steve was elsewhere).

The big bad? I had expected the Verizon device would be a 'world phone', but it seems it is not. You can use the iPhone for voice and text in just 40 countries and access data services in just 20 countries. I've filed a request for clarification on this with Verizon PR, meanwhile here's a list of countries with CDMA support.

This is because the iPhone 4 is CDMA, not LTE. Cook said this was because LTE chipsets "forced design changes" Apple couldn't make in the iPhone 4, and also because Verizon customers said they wanted the iPhone "now".

This means if you are an iPhone user visiting Europe you'll be off the grid, as CDMA is not supported in most networks there -- or anywhere else.

This also means you can't make a voice call and access data at the same time. If you're making a data call and someone tries to call you they will be diverted immediately to voice mail. And there's one more caveat -- you can't make a Facetime call on this device using CDMA, though you'll be able to make these using Wi-Fi. AT&T's network is also theoretically faster (when it works).

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Commenting on this, "For iPhone users who want the fastest speeds, the ability to talk and use apps at the same time and unsurpassed global coverage, the only choice is AT&T," said an AT&T spokeswoman in an e-mail sent to TheStreet shortly after Verizon's iPhone announcement.

The new iPhone 4 is functionally identical to the existing AT&T/GSM iPhone 4, but has a changed antenna, with an extra break in the casing, as was leaked in a video this week.

Will there be an iPhone running LTE this year? Tim Bejarin, president of Creative Strategies doesn't think it is likely, he told Barron's.

In the event of high demand for the iPhone, Verizon will accept in-store orders and customers can expect their device to be shipped to them at home.

We know there's going to be high demand, Wall Street consensus is around 9-10 million unit sales this year. Verizon confirmed it has been building in network capacity to handle the anticipated iPhone surge in demand.

A brief recap of some of what we learned today:

  • iPhone 4 will be available on pre-order (online only) to existing Verizon customers from February 3.
  • Everyone else will be able to pick one up from Feb 10.
  • There's no price hike to use Verizon, on the new network the 16GB model will cost $199.99 and the 32GB model $299.99 with a two year contract. That's the same basic price offered by AT&T -- albeit with a 99-cent mark-up.
  • With that in mind, Verizon hasn't said much about its service plans, which we should also review for a fair price comparison. Though Macworld has made an attempt at conjecture based on existing plans here (clue: they work out about the same). Though we don't know how much the MiFi/Wi-Fi will cost.
  • Verizon will let you use your iPhone as a mobile hotspot for up to five devices.
  • Verizon and Apple have agreed that iTunes should continue to supply the App Store --- it has been previously thought Verizon wanted to run its own such store.
  • Verizon will release VZ Navigator and V CAST Media Manager via the App Store.
  • If you visit the US and have an existing iPhone, you can only use AT&T (if you get an AT&T SIM) as your carrier while visiting.
  • Through iTunes, you can transfer all your existing AT&T iPhone's music, videos, and apps to a Verizon iPhone, if you decide to switch networks.
  • Additional FAQ notes for US customers hoping to ditch AT&T are in this document on Verizon's website.
  • We must wait and see if the iPhone on Verizon will impact Android sales. As far as I can tell, Apple's been forced to make some limitations here which may impact consequences, as noted here.
I'll be updating this post during the day with more reaction and product-specific details. Do check back.

Are you pleased there's a Verizon iPhone? Will you be getting one, or are the limitations of CDMA a deal-breaker? Or will you wait until iPhone 5 (iPhone HD?) Please let me know in comments below. Please do follow me on Twitter so I can let you know when new posts appear here first on Computerworld.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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