At a press event today Verizon Wireless, the largest cellular carrier in the U.S., announced that it will offer a CDMA version of the iPhone 4 beginning next month. The availability of a Verizon iPhone has been speculated for years and hinged on the end of AT&T’s exclusive arrangement to carry the incredibly popular handset in the U.S.
Touting the reliability and superiority of its network, Verizon’s President and Chief Operating Officer Lowell McAdam described the company’s most recent strategic partnership with Apple at the start of the event. McAdam stated that Verizon began talks with Apple in 2008 and tested a CDMA iPhone for a year before bringing the device to market.
Tim Cook, Apple’s Chief Operating Officer, joined McAdam on stage to provide more details on the iPhone for Verizon, essentially describing the current iPhone 4 model available on GSM carriers with the exception of its CMDA network compatibility and Wi-Fi hotspot capability.
Verizon will begin selling the iPhone 4 to existing Verizon Wireless customers on February 3 and to new customers on February 10. The 16GB iPhone 4 will cost $199 and the 32GB iPhone 4 will cost $299, each with a 2-year contract. Differentiating itself from AT&T, Verizon will allow its iPhone 4 to act as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 5 devices. Comparatively, the iPhone on AT&T offers internet tethering to a single device via USB or Bluetooth, a feature which commands a $20 premium tacked on to the most expensive data plan offered.
In the Q&A following the announcement, a few additional details emerged. Of note, Verizon’s iPhone 4, like other CDMA devices, will not be able to handle a voice call and data transmission at the same time, which means that an incoming or outgoing call will halt any data transmission in progress. AT&T’s 3G network is capable of maintaining data transmission during an active voice call.
Also revealed during the Q&A is that Verizon has a multi-year agreement with Apple to offer the iPhone though it is not an exclusive deal, which opens the possibility of Sprint and other CDMA carriers offering the device as well.
No information on plan pricing was provided at the event. Those interested in the Verizon iPhone can sign up to receive additional information as it becomes available on Verizon’s site here.