Wednesday, 12 January 2011 14:52

VeriPhone zone: Verizon gets iPhone 4 at last

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As predicted by all and sundry, Verizon has finally been granted access to the iPhone 4, but questions still remain.

With the iPhone 4 now having finally arrived on Verizon's CDMA network, AT&T's 'multi-year' iPhone exclusivity has finally come to an end.

Although countries such as Australia launched with the iPhone 3G on multiple carriers, the US features both GSM/3G/UMTS and CDMA networks, as well as new 'next-gen' LTE networks, and with Apple's iPhone only being available on GSM/3G/UMTS, plenty of consumers were unable to get the iPhone, whether through poor 3G coverage through AT&T, or because they were on a contract with Verizon and didn't want to change.

Now, the new iPhone release changes that, and all those who longed for an iPhone to be available on Verizon's CDMA network finally get their wish, with Verizon no doubt eagerly awaiting sales and subscriber figures to see whether reports of consumer demand end up matching with today's new reality.

Verizon's iPhone also features a 'Wi-Fi' hotspot, allowing Verizon iPhone 4 customers to share their iPhone's net connection with up to five Wi-Fi devices, be they an iPad, another smartphone, their portable PCs, game devices or anything else that can connect via Wi-Fi.

Questions have emerged as to whether AT&T will offer the same capability, with rumours suggesting that an upcoming iOS 4.3 update will deliver an inbuilt Wi-Fi hotspot capability.

This has led to further questions over whether AT&T will support any such capability, even if Apple technically allows it, given AT&T's sluggishness over switching on MMS and tethering support, even though previous iOS versions made it possible.

Even more questions now surround the impending release of the iPhone 5 and the iPad 2. Will these devices feature 3G and CDMA support in the same device, allowing Apple to ship a single 'world'-compatible iDevice?

More questions emerge on page two, sleuth on over!


There's also questions over support for LTE, with Apple's Tim Cook saying at the Verizon launch that first-generation LTE chipsets meant compromises in design that Apple was unwilling to make.

Whether any suitable second-generation LTE chipsets will be available in time for the iPhone 5 and the iPad 2 is in question - the world might have to wait for the iPhone 6 and the iPad 3 for this to become a reality.

Still, the Verizon iPhone 4 is a development that is most welcome for US customers who have long wanted an alternative to AT&T's famously shoddy network, even if a CDMA-based iPhone 4 means that voice and data calls cannot take place at the same time, as is possible on the current 3G iPhone 4.

There is one way around that particularly sticky problem - it is possible to surf the web or use other data-based apps on a Verizon iPhone 4 while making a phone call, and that is if that iPhone 4 is connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Given the benefits of being able to talk and use data at the same time, this might mean a surge in sales of portable Wi-Fi hotspot devices to Verizon iPhone 4 customers who want to talk and surf, thus bringing more dollars Verizon's way.

Still, with the iPhone 5 theoretically less than 6 months away, those stuck on contracts might be forcing themselves to wait and see what the iPhone 5 brings, rather than splash down their cash now for an iPhone 4 that might soon be going out the discount door once the iPhone 5 goes live.

Whatever the case may eventually be on the iPhone 5 front, the iPhone 4 on Verizon finally levels the playing field between the two major phone networks in the US, and removes the 'Android advantage' of Android OS-powered handsets being more widely available, even if some of the newest Android handsets showcased at CES operate on fledgling LTE networks which the iPhone doesn't yet support.

So, with the Verizon iPhone 4 now behind us, all eyes are now on the iPhone 5 - and Apple's forthcoming iPad 2.

 

 


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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