Verizon Gives Us Choice on iPhone
As you might expect, people ask me a lot of questions. Because I review a myriad of cameras, printers and cell phones, I always get questions about these devices. For the past six months, the two questions that I have been asked the most are: "Will Verizon get the iPhone?" and "When will Verizon get the iPhone?"
My answers have been: "Yes" and "Sometime this year." This week proved my answers correct. Verizon just announced that it will be selling the iPhone starting Feb. 10, with existing Verizon customers able to start pre-ordering Feb. 3.
Those of you who were waiting for this announcement can immediately start cheering. There is, no doubt, a pent-up demand for the iPhone on a carrier other than AT&T. This is especially true in our area, where AT&T service is slow and spotty. So if you are thinking about getting an iPhone from Verizon, here's what you need to know.
The Verizon iPhone uses a different underlying cellular technology. AT&T uses the GSM technology, while Verizon uses a technology called CDMA. You really don't have to worry about the underlying technology except to know that the AT&T iPhone has a SIM card, while the Verizon iPhone does not.
Since GSM is the technology that is used worldwide, but CDMA is not, the AT&T iPhone has world-roaming capabilities, but the Verizon iPhone will have extremely limited capabilities for world travelers.
Because of the differing technologies, an iPhone that was purchased from AT&T cannot be used on the Verizon network. In reverse, if you purchase a Verizon iPhone it will not be able to be used on the AT&T network in the future.
In the Verizon iPhone, Apple also rearranged the antennas to improve reception. Because of this, the volume rocker switch has been moved slightly. You may not even notice the difference, but if you have an iPhone case that had a cutout for the switches, even the AT&T iPhone case may not work with the new Verizon iPhone.
However, the iPhone 4, which is the current version for both AT&T and Verizon, will pretty much look and act the same. They look almost identical, with Apple's slick, thin high-tech appearance.
They will both have the 940-by-640-pixel retina display, five-megapixel camera with HD video capture and FaceTime. If you have purchased apps from iTunes for an AT&T iPhone, all of those apps can be used on your Verizon iPhone.
The actual price of the iPhone will be the same at AT&T and Verizon. Both are charging$199 for the 16GB iPhone and $299 for 32GB iPhone.
To get the iPhone to work, in addition to your cellular talk and text costs, you must also purchase a monthly data plan. This is true with all smart phones on all cellular networks. AT&T charges new customers $15 a month for 200MB and $25 for 2GB. Verizon has not made iPhone data pricing information available yet, but the company's data plans for other smart phones are $15 a month for 150MB and $29.99 for unlimited.
One other difference between the two iPhones is that the new Verizon iPhone will be able to act as a hotspot, meaning that with an addition monthly fee to Verizon, you will be able to use your Verizon iPhone to get up to five other devices such as laptop computers on the Internet. This, however, is not a big drawback for the AT&T iPhone since it is scheduled to get the same capability with a software update that will be available soon.
This brings us to another important point - iPhone updates. The iPhone has gone through four generations, with each new generation coming with a major release of the iOS operating system, which runs the iPhone. Each of these was introduced in June.
Each generation ushered in huge changes. These included things such as the 3G cellular network capabilities, a compass, the ability to take video, a second camera, and a higher-resolution display.
This leaves everyone wondering if they should jump on that Verizon iPhone now or wait until this summer to see if a new version appears. The other question that is being asked is if the Verizon network is strong enough to withstand millions of new Verizon iPhone users. Although Verizon says that they are prepared for this, it obviously depends on how many iPhones Verizon sells and how much people use their voice and data network.
In any case, this is a win-win situation for consumers. Those of us who want an iPhone now have a choice of carriers, and more competition between the carriers is good for the consumer.
Send your computer-related questions for publication in this column to Sandy Berger at Computer Living Corp., P.O. Box 5895, Pinehurst N.C. 28374; or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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