Lowell McAdam, President and CEO Verizon Wireless, and Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook took the stage at a New York press conference Monday to announce news that the tech world had been waiting for: Apple's iPhone is coming to Verizon.
The Verizon iPhone goes on sale Feb. 10. Existing Verizon customers can pre-order starting Feb. 3. The phone will be $199 for 16 GB and $299 for 32 GB. It will act as a WiFi hotspot for up to five devices. The phone will be available at the Apple store, alongside the AT&T version, and well as at Verizon Wireless locations. Verizon said it will also sell iPhone via indirect sales channels, but not at launch.
Verizon did not announce monthly pricing plans.
McAdam said his company's relationship with Apple has developed over the past few years, and that in 2008, the two companies talked about bringing iPhone to Verizon's 3G network. He said Verizon has spent a year testing the iPhone. Apple and Verizon have a multi-year non-exclusive agreement for the Verizon version, which uses a wireless technology called CDMA, which differs from AT&T, which uses a wireless technology called GSM.
The non-exclusive agreement could pave the way for an iPhone on Sprint, which also uses CDMA.
The new iPhone will only work on Verizon's existing 3G network and not its new 4G network which promises higher speeds. Cook said making this phone LTE capable would force design compromises Apple was not willing to make and that customers wanted the phone now. Most companies who are making phones to work with Verizon's 4G network plan to release them in summer.
AT&T executives, whose company has had an iPhone exclusive for three years, have already begun to criticize the competition saying that its 3G network is faster than Verizon's, a fact backed up by many studies.
Expect Verizon to strike back, emphasizing that its network has been more reliable. AT&T has finished last in several reliability surveys and iPhone customers have complained so much about connection issues and dropped calls that AT&T has added huge public WiFi hotspots in cities like New York, San Francisco and Charlotte to try to alleviate the problems.
At Monday's news conference, Verizon officials stressed its network was ready to handle new waves of data hungry iPhone customers.
Apple's Cook said the phone was optimized to work on Verizon's network and asked if any changes had been made to iPhone 4's oft-critized antenna, he said "it's going to work great."
One caveat: Verizon's CDMA network does not allow voice calls at the same time as data. So you cannot surf the internet and make calls like on AT&T's version. Cook said "I think people place different emphasis on things. I can tell you that the number one question I've gotten is when will the iPhone work on Verizon. I couldn't be happier to tell people that. They will make these sorts of tradeoffs."
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