Allow us to bring you up to speed in case you missed it — Verizon Wireless just announced that it will finally begin carrying the iPhone 4 starting on February 10th. It’s kind of a big deal. There are definitely plenty of positives tied to the Verizon iPhone, of course. For starters, choice is always a good thing and the fact that AT&T finally lost iPhone exclusivity will benefit consumers in a big way. And there are plenty more benefits as well — for example, there’s a redesigned antenna that might reduce the effects of the death grip, and a mobile hotspot option that AT&T iPhone users have been wishing for since Android first popularized the feature. But it’s not all double rainbows and jazz hands, we’re afraid. There are definitely some areas where Verizon’s upcoming iPhone 4 is sorely lacking, and we’ve listed a few of the main missteps after the break.
This was covered in our feature yesterday entitled Why I’m not switching to the Verizon iPhone: Need for speed. Verizon’s 3G network, while sturdier than the Great Wall of China, is slower than your great grandmother driving a Cadillac on the highway. Ok, it’s really not that slow and it’s more than quick enough to handle basic functions like Web browsing, email and use of basic apps. But this is 2011 and data speeds should be increasing, not decreasing. If heavier usage is your cup of tea — streaming media, data-gulping apps and so on — Verizon’s 3G service crawls.
Those who jump ship from AT&T could be in for a rude awakening in this department. Then again, they also might finally be able to make phone calls.
No simultaneous voice and data
There was an off chance that Verizon Wireless would finally announce a solution for simultaneous voice and data over its CDMA network, but it didn’t happen. We’ll just have to wait for the LTE-enabled version of the iPhone to drop in 2012. In the meantime, if you want to talk and receive emails on your iPhone 4 at the same time, you’ll need AT&T. After all, where would we be without young professionals traipsing through our city streets with their faces buried in smartphones while they bark at their Bluetooth headsets?
Roam or get off the pot
Roamers may have a tough time finding ways to travel internationally with their Verizon iPhones. Well, they can travel anywhere they want with their iPhones as long as they don’t need to talk or use cellular data. Verizon’s iPhone 4 will only operate on CDMA networks and the rest of the world, for the most part, uses GSM. There are some countries where Verizon iPhone users will be able to roam on CDMA, but service won’t be great in many cases — and prepare to sell some organs a month later when your bill arrives.
To be fair, however, AT&T iPhone users may have to cough up the deeds to their houses as well if they roam internationally. It’s not cheap. Less expensive options used to be just a jailbreak, an unlock and a prepaid local SIM away, but the iPhone 4 complicates matters thanks to its Micro-SIM. Average users definitely won’t be hacking up foreign a SIM card to perform a Micro-SIM-ectomy, so international roamers are basically screwed in either camp.
Verizon’s entire presence at CES last week was focused on one thing and one thing alone: 4G. Its LTE network is now live in 38 markets and a flurry of 4G phones will launch in the coming months. But the iPhone… the smartphone millions of Verizon Wireless subscribers have been dying for… is a 3G device.
We knew Verizon’s iPhone 4 would be a CDMA phone for a number of reasons, but 3G is so 2010. Sprint launched its first 4G phone with minimal WiMAX coverage and it ended up being the fastest-selling phone in the carrier’s history. Now, we won’t see a 4G iPhone from Verizon until 2012. That means while millions of Android phones are surfing Verizon’s 4G airwaves later this year, iPhones will still be puttering along at EVDO speeds.
UPDATE: Post updated to remove a reference to FaceTime over 3G, which will not be available on Verizon’s iPhone 4.