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Posted at 10:34 AM ET, 02/ 7/2011

Answers to your questions about the Verizon iPhone

By Rob Pegoraro

As you may have heard, Verizon and Apple will start selling a version of the iPhone 4 for that carrier later this week. That seems like a reasonably straightforward bit of news, but there's always room for confusion in the telecom universe.

Here are my attempts to answer some of the questions I've seen and received over the past couple of weeks:

Q. What are the odds that Verizon will have an updated iPhone this summer?

Very good. Apple might like surprises, but there's been little suspense over the pace of its smartphone updates: Over each of the past three years, it's shipped a new iPhone sometime between the middle of June and the middle of July. (In case you were curious, I expect the next iPad to arrive on the same yearly timeline, placing its shipment in early April.)

Q. When will Verizon have a 4G iPhone?

Don't be misled by occasional mispronunciations of Verizon's new device as the "iPhone 4G"; it only runs on the carrier's widespread but older 3G network, not the fourth-generation LTE service it launched in December. Verizon is about to start selling 4G LTE smartphones such as the HTC Thunderbolt, but the iPhone might not join their ranks until at least this summer -- but maybe not until next.

(Hey, didn't I once predict that Verizon wouldn't get the iPhone until it could ship an LTE version? I did, and was completely wrong about that.)

Q. How do we know that Verizon's network won't have the same capacity problems AT&T's has had?

We don't, and we certainly can't tell from early reviews posted before the masses get access to Verizon iPhones. But after all the trash talking from Verizon about AT&T's network -- including a Super Bowl ad spot -- it had better avoid that fate. The carrier does seem prepared to take possibly harsh measures against especially heavy use, including "throttling" back connections and converting downloaded media to smaller, lower-resolution files.

Q. I got a Droid last summer. Should I upgrade to the iPhone now?

What, are you nuts? Not because an iPhone is inferior to a Droid, but because buying a new phone in mid-contract means you won't get any new-or-renewing customer discounts on a new iPhone: Instead of the advertised prices of $199.99 for the 16-gigabyte version and $299.99 for a 32 GB model, you'd pay $649.99 or $749.99.

Also, Google's Android operating system is pretty good in its own right.

Q. Are there any ways I can avoid paying the full, unsubsidized price for an iPhone even if I'm in a contract with Verizon?

Verizon will give current customers the new-or-renewing deal 20 months into a two-year contract. That's a little more generous than Sprint and T-Mobile (which don't offer that deal until 22 months in) but not as lenient as AT&T, which lets many smartphone users trade up at a discounted price 18 months in.

Verizon's own FAQ page notes one other slight exception to this rule: Subscribers who bought and activated "new smartphones, feature phones or certified pre-owned devices" between Nov. 26 and Jan. 10 can get "up to a $200 Visa debit card" if they pay full retail for an iPhone 4 before Feb. 28 and return their almost-new devices.

Q. Can I use a Verizon iPhone overseas?

Generally speaking, no. Few other countries use the CDMA wireless technology adopted by Verizon and Sprint here -- the list of supported roaming areas on Verizon's site is dominated by the Americas but excludes Africa, Australia, almost all of Europe and much of Asia -- while AT&T's GSM standard is nearly universal in comparison. Note, however, that AT&T charges extortionate rates for data use outside the U.S.

Q. I'm moving from AT&T to Verizon. What should I do with my old iPhone?

You can't convert it to run on Verizon. But you may be able to "unlock" the phone for use with other GSM carriers -- for example, cheap pre-paid services for temporary use overseas. Not all combinations of iPhone hardware and software allow this (the iPhone 4, for instance, does not), and the procedure itself is not the easiest. But it is one option.

So is selling the phone or donating it to charity.

Q. When will Sprint or T-Mobile sell the iPhone next?

When Verizon announced its iPhone deal with Apple last month, Apple chief operating officer Tim Cook described as "strategic" but "non-exclusive." So either of those two carriers could get their own flavor of the iPhone now. But I don't expect any movement on that until at least this summer, maybe not until next -- mainly because I'm sure Verizon would have arranged a decent interval in which it could stand alone as the Not AT&T of the iPhone market.

Also, if any new iPhone were to support 4G, a Sprint version of it wouldn't run on the same 4G technology as a Verizon model; where Verizon uses LTE, Sprint got to the 4G market earlier with a different, less-widely-used technology called WiMax.

One thing's for sure: Nextel won't be carrying the iPhone.

What else would you like to know? Post your question in the comments; I'll be updating this post throughout the week.

By Rob Pegoraro  | February 7, 2011; 10:34 AM ET
Categories:  Apple, Mobile, Telecom  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Rumors: iPad 2 may get a preview this week, ship in March
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Comments

Hi!
I've heard some speculation that when Apple announces the iPhone 5 it WON'T be available on Verizon. Instead, they will stagger the introduction of new phones and give them to AT&T first, and then later make them available on Verizon. It seems plausible to me.
What do you think?
Thanks!

Posted by: Dandy24 | February 7, 2011 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Sorry Rob, you need to do some research here. Verizon is not offering any early upgrade option. I know this because my contract expires on 2.22 and I have to wait until then to get the iPhone or I can pay full price now.

Posted by: BFTK | February 7, 2011 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I've heard you can't surf the web and talk on the phone with a Verizon iphone, is this true? Why?

Will Verizon be loading up their iPhone with Bloatware like they have done on other phones which slow them down?

Thanks for the info.

Posted by: gbrown10062003 | February 7, 2011 12:00 PM | Report abuse

@gbrown

You are correct. As long as you are on Verizon Wireless (currently), no phone, not even the iPhone will be able to talk/surf at the same time. Simple answer why? It is because of the type of network Verizon uses.

As for the second question, no. The only thing Verizon (from what I can tell) was able to have put on the iPhone was the hotspot. If Verizon insisted on putting their "bloatware" on the iPhone, Apple would have not allowed them to carry it.

Hope this helps.

Tyler

Posted by: tylerv21 | February 7, 2011 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Q. I'm moving from AT&T to Verizon. What should I do with my old iPhone?

A. Powermax has a great trade-in program for iPhones. You can trade-in in your old phone, and use the money toward a new computer or anything they sell.

http://www.powermax.com/everything_else/trade_in/

Posted by: kellyjcoop | February 7, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I have an AT&T iPhone now which I use all over Europe and Asia. The ability to talk on the phone and surf the web or download other kinds of data concurrently is key for me and my company.

I'm thinking of switching to Verizon. Will the Verizon iPhone give me the same functionality as I currently have with my AT&T iPhone?

Posted by: LSConsulting | February 7, 2011 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if you could offer some advice--I am about to upgrade my phone with Verizon, and I can choose either the Droidx or the new iphone on Feb 10--which do you think is the better choice? I text, take pictures, minimal web surfing, also would use the gps maps for driving with voice commands. I am not sure which phone to use, both are free to me. Thanks!!
Pat

Posted by: bluechip5618 | February 7, 2011 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if you could offer some advice--I am about to upgrade my phone with Verizon, and I can choose either the Droidx or the new iphone on Feb 10--which do you think is the better choice? I text, take pictures, minimal web surfing, also would use the gps maps for driving with voice commands. I am not sure which phone to use, both are free to me. Thanks!!
Pat

Posted by: bluechip5618 | February 7, 2011 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if you could offer some advice--I am about to upgrade my phone with Verizon, and I can choose either the Droidx or the new iphone on Feb 10--which do you think is the better choice? I text, take pictures, minimal web surfing, also would use the gps maps for driving with voice commands. I am not sure which phone to use, both are free to me. Thanks!!
Pat

Posted by: bluechip5618 | February 7, 2011 12:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm a current Verizon customer who's eligible for an upgrade. I'm in no hurry...should I wait for the I-Phone 5?

Posted by: lels | February 7, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm a current Verizon customer who's eligible for an upgrade. I'm in no hurry...should I wait for the I-Phone 5?

Posted by: lels | February 7, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

In your defense, Rob, my instinct is that Apple's original plan was to wait for LTE to support Verizon.

But it saw in the meantime that not being on Verizon was giving Android way too much room to grow in the market. In light of this, they decided to do the interim CDMA version.

I don't recall seeing an Android Super Bowl ad... though I did see two iPhone ads, where there might have been none.

Posted by: rakeshlobster | February 7, 2011 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm curious what the Verizon iPhone means for AT&T going forward. Is this a death blow? What does AT&T have to offer now to keep customers around?

Posted by: tomtildrum | February 7, 2011 3:02 PM | Report abuse


Droid X is far superior to iPhone. It is not even a close contest.

Posted by: screwjob23 | February 7, 2011 5:47 PM | Report abuse

@screwjob,

"It f-ing prints money."

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | February 7, 2011 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Thank you all for your comments...

@Dandy24: Haven't heard any such rumor myself, and it doesn't square with Apple calling its relationship with Verizon "strategic."

@BFTK: That would contradict both the old and upcoming upgrade policies, and Verizon PR didn't think it was right (though they remain unable to point me to a simple page describing said policy). Is that what you see at myverizon.com, or what you were told in a store?

@bluechip5618: Get an Android phone--turn-by-turn navigation and voice input are much better in Android than on the iPhone.

@lels: Sounds like you should wait on that upgrade.

- RP

Posted by: robpegoraro | February 7, 2011 6:35 PM | Report abuse

@BFTK
Rob is 100% correct; he did his research. I'm a current Verizon customer and my 2 year contract is up the 1st of next month. This information is also on Verizon's site. Since I'm within the 20 month renewal period, I happily pre-ordered my iPhone last week at the still staggering amount of $199.99. I get it tomorrow. You can check your eligibility on Verizon or Apple's site - if it shows the full price, then you should call for assistance. Good Luck.

@bluechip5618
Free? Lucky you. Now you're asking an interesting, but loaded question. Both phones do all that, but there are advantages and disadvantages to both and comes down to being above all, a personal decision. There are a number of articles on-line comparing them both - some rather passionate. I suggest you do a search 'droidx vs iphone' and it may help your decision making process. Good Luck

@LSConsulting
No. Stick with AT&T. Verizon iPhone will not work internationally. Bonne Chance!

Posted by: tabuah | February 7, 2011 6:44 PM | Report abuse

I wanted to switch to Verizon from ATT but after checking into the plan options they are not close to competitive in terms of pricing. This is a big disappointment.

Posted by: davidon1138 | February 7, 2011 8:48 PM | Report abuse

There was speculation that Verizon will be changing their plans of unlimited data of 29.99 to 2GB of data per month for 25.00 and there will be overcharge fees if you go over the 2 GB. Is this true? Will Verizon really do that to their customers who have been waiting SO long for this iPhone?

Posted by: joni2 | February 8, 2011 4:35 AM | Report abuse

I had heard that Verizon will offer a big cash prize for the first video that is shot with one of their iPhones which features an ATT executive jumping out of an executive office window that's above the 10 floor of the ATT headquarters building. This is probably just a rumor, but you know how these things spread, and it may account for the crowds the police are said to expect to gather around that office building on the 10th of February.

www.boskolives.wordpress.com

Posted by: jerrywww | February 8, 2011 6:55 PM | Report abuse

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