Jan. 11, 2011 at 11:06 AM ET
Today, Lowell McAdam, president and COO of Verizon, took to the stage at Lincoln Center in New York, to voice something sweet to many phone lovers' ears: Verizon Wireless would indeed be carrying the iPhone 4, after years of speculation, rumors and outright pleas. It is coming "early next month."
Pre-orders start Feb. 3 for existing Verizon customers. On Feb. 10, it will sell to everyone at Verizon and Apple stores. The price will be $199 for 16GB device, $299 for 32GB model, both with 2-year plans. There will be tethering plans, to make the iPhone a hot spot for up to five devices. Verizon did not yet outline the phone and data plan pricing, which will be announced "in the future."
In 2008, Verizon began to have technical discussions with Apple, and they spent "nearly a year" designing and testing the product. "Their team has been just terrific," said McAdam.
Apple COO Tim Cook joined McAdam on stage to share the announcement. "We've been looking forward to today for a long time," he said. "We've designed an iPhone 4 to run on Verizon's CDMA network, and it has all of the features you'd expect," he said. He mentioned FaceTime, the fabulous "retina" display, the 5-megapixel camera, and the A4 chip, then went on to brag about the integrated customer experience of Apple's ecosystem: iTunes, the App Store, etc.
After Cook's intro, Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead came out to explain how much they've bolstered and built out the network. "We have designed this network for customers to have the optimum experience," he said. Getting an iPhone is a gamble for Verizon, as the object of desire is nonetheless ridiculed as an actual telephone. Mead seems to acknowledge this, and says the company is ready.
When asked why the iPhone wouldn't run on Verizon's brand new 4G LTE network, Apple's Cook explained that the first generation of LTE chips would "force design changes" that Apple wasn't prepared to make, given the immediacy of the demand for the iPhone on the Verizon network. There are some design modifications, however, including a different antenna. Whether that is an improvement over the current iPhone 4 on AT&T, or simply a necessary difference, remains to be seen.
To say this is overdue is putting it mildly. Ever since the iPhone was announced in January 2007, Verizon customers and people dissatisfied with AT&T's network have yearned for it. There have been rumors every year, owing to the fact that nobody really knew the details of AT&T's exclusivity agreement with Apple. What was clear was that AT&T was paying Apple to keep the phone away from other U.S. carriers. This is no longer the case.
Some questions remain unanswered: Will the antenna issues that plagued the iPhone 4's AT&T launch last summer also be a problem on Verizon's network? Will the differences in the AT&T and Verizon networks mean differences for iPhone users?
Photos and additional reporting by Matthew Rivera in New York