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The Verizon iPhone Revisited: Survey Says…Maybe

at 2011.01.14

Well, while everyone is still in a frenzy over the announcement Tuesday that Verizon is finally getting the iPhone, we thought we’d take a look at the benefits of getting one.New Verizon iPhone 4 to be released Feb 10Prompted by Gizmodo taking the lead on questioning the wisdom of running out on February 10th to snatch up one of the Verizon iPhones, we decided to look into it a little further, and here’s what we found:

The biggest two drawbacks that have been circulating and percolating on the ‘net is that the iPhone 4 is already almost a year old, and will be old and dated by the time that Apple gives their routine annual announcement of a new, improved, super-sexy and desirable iPhone in early June, only 5 months after Verizon gets iPhones into customers’ hands. The other point of contention is the choice of the CDMA chipset, infamous in phone-tech circles for not allowing data and voice packets through at the same time. Put simply, you can’t call someone and check your email simultaneously. Both of these arguments sound valid, except they aren’t. Not completely, anyway.

Big Fish, Flawed Chips

Before we get into a heated debate about Apple’s release cycle, lets take a look at the technical limitations. Yes, CDMA is about half a generation behind GSM technology, and yes it has some technical flaws. Apple said that they did not want to use first-gen LTE, the hot new technology powering Verizon’s burgeoning 4G network, because it would delay the release of the Verizon iPhone and force design compromises that Apple was not prepared to make. We can’t say what those compromises might have been, but I’m going to speculate that letting the phone make actual phone calls was one of them and the engineers at Apple simply couldn’t have that (I kid, actually the phone has a redesigned antenna that should allay the ‘holding the phone wrong’ dropped calls”. They also pointed out that Verizon customers simply did not want to wait any longer and wanted the phone out now. This sounds a little forced. I have a feeling that more than the fans, Verizon didn’t want to wait any longer on stealing AT&T’s customers and getting in on the masses of people rushing to drop their old carriers and sign with VZW.

As far as the CDMA issue goes, this too shall pass. In a press release sent out last August, the CDMA Development Group(CDG) has revealed  multiple changes that will both enhance and expand the voice capacity of CDMA technology, and introduce a new feature dubbed SVDO that will finally allow the network to host simultaneous voice and data transmissions. So while the Verizon iPhone might not come out of the gate with the same ability to talk and browse as the AT&T model, it can be reasonably assumed that by spring of 2011, the two phones should function almost identically in this regard. And when combined with the CDG’s claims to have enhanced power management abilities with the new update, the Verizon iPhone 4 might have a slightly longer battery life that that of its arch-rival.

Chasing Your Tail, For Fun and Profit

The other big argument against getting a new iPhone is probably even more ludicrous than the technology issue. The basic postulate goes like this: Don’t bother getting the iPhone 4 because in 6 months Apple will release a new, improved iPhone 5 and you’ll be stuck in a 2-year contract. Which makes about as much sense as “Don’t buy the new iPhone 5 the day it’s released, because in exactly a year, apple will release the new iPhone 6 and you’ll be locked into a 2-year contract.” Which ultimately makes about as much sense as “Don’t buy any new piece of technology, because with development and production cycles as fast as they are these days, anything you buy will be obsolete before you’re done paying for it.”

Lets face it, Apple has released a new iPhone every year since the original came out. Some generational gaps have been bigger than others, but none except the jump from 3 to 3G have been all that significant. If you sit around waiting for the be all and end all gadget that won’t be improved, updated, revised, enhanced, or completely dropped after a year, you may as well resign yourself to living in a cave and using stone tools. New phones are coming out from some companies at the rate of one every 6 months, and putting off purchasing an upgrade because you don’t want to miss the next best thing is beyond pointless. You can’t possibly win.

The Bottom Line

The VZW iPhone 4 has it’s flaws, as does any phone ever released. It also has quite a few up-sides: the ability to set up a mobile hot-spot for up to 5 devices, the best phone camera among current-gen products, and all the other goodness that we’ve come to expect from the iPhone. Is the next iPhone to be released this July going to be better? Of course. Will it be better enough that it will be a fundamental leap in technology? Very doubtful. So if your contract is up, or will be up before February, I can’t think of a good reason not to go out and get a Verizon iPhone. Especially if you’re looking to switch from AT&T and their restrictive bandwidth and data transfer caps to Verizon’s unlimited data plan.  If your contract isn’t up, though, don’t bother paying the hefty cancellation fee to jump ship. Wait it out and see what Apple has in store this summer.