Verizon starts selling the iPhone

The long wait is nearly over. The Apple iPhone, which for four years was available exclusively on the AT&T network, is now being sold to Verizon customers.

Many current Verizon customers have ordered their phones and are waiting for the delivery truck to pull up sometime on, or before, Feb. 10. That’s the day anyone looking to become a new Verizon customer can buy the iPhone, either online or at a Verizon or Apple store.

My wife, who has been a Verizon customer for several years, ordered her new iPhone today. Yes, we have a mixed marriage. I’m using AT&T and she’s on Verizon. Long story short, her family is on the East Coast, and almost all using Verizon. My family is primarily in the West and Midwest, and most use AT&T. It works.

I haven’t tested the new Verizon iPhone 4 yet. But some other tech writers (those on the "A" list) have been dialing and Web surfing with them for several weeks. Reviews are trickling in and the consensus is that the Verizon version is stabler as a phone, dropping far fewer calls in areas that are typically weak on AT&T’s network.

There are distinct differences in the services the iPhone carriers provide. The new Verizon iPhone uses technology called code division multiple access, which prevents simultaneous voice calls and data usage. That means you can’t talk on the phone and surf the Web at the same time.

The AT&T network uses global system for mobile communications technology, which does allow simultaneous talk and Web use. GSM technology is used in 220 countries; CDMA is used in 36 countries.

At first glance, the Verizon and AT&T versions of the iPhone 4 look alike. But subtle differences prevent some accessories designed for the AT&T version from working on the Version version. For example, the mute switch and volume buttons are in slightly different locations, so Verizon customers need to be sure any cases they’re considering for their new phones are built specifically for the Verizon version.

Another difference is the Verizon version’s ability to work as a wireless hot spot for laptops and other Wi-Fi devices. It’s a cool feature, but it comes at a high price — 2 gigabytes of data transfer cost $20 per month. That’s not a lot of data transfer, especially if several devices are sharing the connection. It’s one place to watch, because $10 per GB of overage charges can add up quickly.

I’m eager to see how Verizon handles the demands the iPhone customers will put on its network. Will more calls be dropped? Will Web surfing get slower? We’ll know more in a week or two.

I’m sticking with AT&T for now.

I’ll have more on the Verizon iPhone and the consternation some customers are feeling in my Sunday column. I’ll also share more about the Verizon iPhone after my wife starts using hers.

For a thorough review of the Verizon iPhone, read David Pogue’s report in The New York Times:
For iPhone, almost heaven

The view on the Verizon iPhone ordering page.

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