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IPhone -The Verizon iPhone - Yes or No?

January 18, 2011

The Verizon iPhone - Yes or No?

By Lance Whitney
Journalist, IT Consultant, Web Developer

Those of you who’ve been eyeing the iPhone but didn’t want AT&T (News - Alert) as your carrier now have another option as Verizon announced last week that it would begin offering Apple’s (News - Alert) popular device in February. But for IT professionals considering the phone for themselves or their users, what are the pros and cons of opting for the Verizon (News - Alert) iPhone?

Here’s a quick recap of what we know so far.

Verizon’s version of the iPhone 4 will make its retail debut on Feb. 10, though existing Verizon customers will have a chance to pre-order the phone starting Feb. 3. With the standard two-year contract, the phone will cost $199.99 for the 16GB model and $299.99 for the 32GB model.

Verizon’s iPhone (News - Alert) will use CDMA technology, while AT&T’s version runs over its GSM network. One of the limitations of CDMA is that, unlike GSM, it doesn’t support simultaneous voice and data. So you can’t talk and check e-mail or surf the Web at the same time. For people who want to be online while chatting on their mobile phones, Verizon has been promising an upgrade to its CDMA network that would allow simultaneous voice and data, but no definitive word yet on when or if this might actually happen.

Despite initial hopes that Verizon’s first iPhone would be a 4G device, it’s strictly 3G. At last week’s press conference announcing the phone, Apple’s COO Tim Cook explained why. Cook said that creating a 4G device would’ve forced Apple to make certain design changes to the phone and that customers have indicated they want the Verizon iPhone now. Though Verizon did announce a batch of 4G phones at CES (News - Alert) recently, the carrier’s 4G network is just getting off the ground, and those new phones won’t actually hit the market until the middle of the year.

Verizon’s iPhone will also be able to serve as a mobile hotspot. That means you’ll be able to tether up to five different devices to share the phone’s 3G connection in order to hop online.

Okay, so what don’t we know about the Verizon iPhone at this point?

The cost of the data plans is still a mystery. Verizon has so far been coy about how much it would hit up its customers each month for an iPhone data plan. For its current lineup of 3G smartphones, the carrier charges $29.99 per month for unlimited data access and $15 a month for 150MB of data. AT&T, which got rid of unlimited data access last summer, charges its customers $25 a month for 2GB of data and $15 for 200MB. Some reports, including a story in last week’s Wall Street Journal, say that Verizon will offer the $30 unlimited data access package for iPhone users. But the company’s hesitancy to announce iPhone data prices now could mean it’s thinking of upping the charges for accessing data. Either way, we won’t know for sure until Verizon reveals the details.

Apple typically releases its new model iPhones in the summer, so people will be looking for the iPhone 5 to debut on AT&T’s network around June or July. Unveiling the Verizon iPhone in February throws off Apple’s usual scheduling. Does that mean we’ll see the iPhone 5 offered on Verizon’s network at the same time it launches for AT&T or will it make its debut in February 2012?

And though 4G was not in the cards for the first Verizon iPhone, it’s likely to be an option for the next generation iPhone, both for Verizon and AT&T. So people who opt for Verizon’s current 3G version next month may find themselves salivating over a 4G iPhone in a year or even less when their two-year contracts still have a ways to go.

Of course, this is always the fate of technology and technology consumers, both individually and in the enterprise market. You buy something now, and in a few short months, something better and faster and cooler pops up to take its place. Depending on the overall cost and other factors, I’ll probably be among the many smartphone users seriously considering the Verizon iPhone when it debuts next month. But other buyers, especially those in the corporate arena, will certainly want to weigh all their options before determining if the first Verizon iPhone is the right choice for their businesses.

Lance Whitney is a journalist, IT consultant, and Web Developer with almost 20 years of experience in the IT world. To read more of Lance's articles, please visit his columnist page

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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