It Begins. Verizon Officially Unveils iPhone, Leaves LTE on the Shelf

by Matt Klassen on January 12, 2011

The reality is that Americans have had little reason to envy the mobile market of their Canadian cousins, as the Great White North has always been a relatively backwater mobile locale, with Canadians often having to wait months, if not years, for the same tech readily available south of the border.

But over the past several years there’s no doubt that many disgruntled AT&T iPhone users have looked longingly northward, desperately wishing that they could enjoy the same luxury of choosing between multiple iPhone carriers that Canadians have enjoyed since day one….that is until now.

It truly seems like I’ve been writing about the ongoing speculation, conjecture, and rumours surrounding a potential Verizon iPhone for an eternity, and while its arrival yesterday certainly falls in the Its-About-Time category, with no LTE compatibility and looking distinctly second-class compared to the new Verizon LTE line unveiled at last week’s CES, was it really worth the wait?

There’s no doubt that a Verizon iPhone will offer a much needed reprieve for frustrated AT&T customers, as users will finally enjoy the choice of carriers for their iPhone. But amidst the veritable Verizon adulation bubbling up across the nation, I, for one, am left wanting, as with the recent rollout of Verizon’s LTE network—which the iPhone is not compatible with—it seems this announcement is about six months too late, making the Verizon iPhone very much a thing of the past.

Now don’t get me wrong, having the iPhone available on a network other than AT&T is a necessity, as throughout its exclusivity deal with Apple AT&T demonstrated nothing but incompetence and ineptitude in managing its wireless network and supporting the iPhone’s data needs.

But the reality is that this long overdue announcement comes on the heels of a veritable Verizon LTE bonanza at last week’s CES in Las Vegas, and with the announcement that the iPhone will only be compatible with Verizon’s CDMA network and not its next gen LTE network, suddenly the much sought after Apple phone looks rather plain.

For its part, Verizon recognizes that offering a LTE iPhone would be the ideal scenario, but with LTE very much in its infancy Verizon admitted that the first generation of LTE chipsets “forced design compromises,” and Verizon didn’t want to hold off any longer as “Verizon customers want the iPhone now.”

The reality, however, is that LTE is clearly where Verizon is heading, meaning that this CDMA version of Apple’s phone may be a short-lived afterthought, simply a way to make some money off being the first AT&T alternative carrier; not like that will negatively impact sales though.

So how does the Verizon iPhone compare to its AT&T counterpart? In regards to each phone’s respective hardware specs, things will be virtually identical. The main difference, of course, will be that Verizon’s version will sport a CDMA chip. Beyond that iPhone aficionados may notice that the mute/ringer switch has been lowered slightly to accommodate said CDMA chip, meaning that all current iPhone cases and holders will not quite fit it right.

The next set of pressing questions are, of course, when and where can one purchase this long awaited device? The good news for current Verizon customers is that you’ll get first crack at the phone, with presale starting on February 3rd. Otherwise you’ll have to wait in line with thousands of disgruntled AT&T customers to pick yours up on February 10th, the date of the official Verizon iPhone launch.

But all that aside, for those that love the iPhone and who have desperately wanted the ability to choose their carrier, that day has finally arrived. For those, however, who were naively hoping to see Verizon offer a next gen LTE iPhone, this CDMA version looks decidedly plain. As any number of fashion savvy teenage girls might say, the Verizon iPhone is so last year!

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