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Verizon iPhone preorders are smooth sailing for most

Verizon Wireless clears the first hurdle of iPhone madness without much trouble, as most customers preorder the gadget without a problem.


Verizon Wireless got off to a relatively smooth start today as it began the preorder process for the long-awaited Verizon iPhone.

The company started taking preorders from existing Verizon Wireless customers for the device at 3 a.m. EST. It will be begin selling the device to all consumers online and in retail locations starting next Thursday, February 10.

As many iPhone fans will recall, in June of last year AT&T's Web site was overwhelmed by customers trying to preorder the iPhone 4. Orders couldn't be processed through AT&T, and many customers simply gave up after their purchase attempts timed-out and failed.

Though some customers experienced slow page loading on the Verizon Wireless Web site Thursday, most were able to complete their orders.

"I set the alarm for 2:45 a.m. and didn't expect to be able to get right online," said Kelly Muhlberger of Medford, N.J. "But I did and I was able to order two phones at the same time with two different browsers open. It took about 15 minutes."

Muhlberger, who has been a longtime Verizon Wireless customer using the LG Dare for the past couple of years, said she had been waiting a long time for the Verizon iPhone and didn't want to miss the opportunity. But she said when she checked the Verizon Web site later on Thursday, she said things still seemed to be working well.

"I guess I really didn't have to get up that early," she said.

Lee Evans of Manahawkin, N.J., said he got up at 3 a.m. to preorder the Verizon iPhone because he was afraid Verizon would run out of the devices.

"The only reason I got up early and preordered it was because when the Droid X and HTC Incredible came out last year, I heard there was a seven-month waiting list for the phones, and that was even for people who preordered the phones. So I figured I'd jump on and get one right away."

Evans said he didn't have trouble ordering his new phone either.

But there have been some complaints.

Kate Johnson of Garrison, N.Y., who got up at 2:55 a.m. EST Thursday, said she spent 45 minutes on Verizon Wireless's Web site trying to order her iPhone. Finally, she gave up and went to the Apple Web site, where it took 5 minutes to complete the order.

Brenda Raney, a spokeswoman for Verizon Wireless, said that "most customers have been able to get their orders placed." But she acknowledged that some customers have had a difficult time.

"In instances where customers have experience problems, we have found that the issues tend to be account specific, not system driven," she said in an e-mail. "In all cases, when we are made aware of an issue with a specific customer, we have been working with those customers directly."

Analysts are expecting the iPhone on Verizon Wireless to be very popular. Verizon said during its fourth-quarter conference call last month that it's expecting to sell about 11 million iPhones in 2011, which is the average estimate from financial analysts.

Verizon vs. AT&T
Initial reviews of the iPhone on Verizon's network have been good. CNET Reviews editors Kent German and Jessica Dolcourt gave the device on Verizon's network high marks compared with AT&T when tested in various parts of San Francisco.

The full CNET review, published today, says the Verizon iPhone consistently outperformed the AT&T iPhone in all but two tests. That said, German and Dolcourt warn potential iPhone customers that results may vary depending on a user's exact location.

But in San Francisco, where the AT&T iPhone often suffers from poor network performance and dropped calls, the Verizon iPhone performed very well. For the most part, Verizon blazed through AT&T's upload and download speeds, according to the Root Metrics tool that the reviewers used.

"But more important than the results of a diagnostic tool are the real-world upload and download speeds we conducted using Facebook and, and in these tests AT&T's iPhone fell less behind," the reviewers said.

CNET's review of the Verizon iPhone was comparable to other reviews. Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal noted that the Verizon iPhone had fewer dropped calls than an AT&T iPhone but said the Web surfing was slower on Verizon than on AT&T. David Pogue of The New York Times was happy to note that he could actually make calls while in his house using the Verizon iPhone, something he couldn't do with the AT&T iPhone. And he also noted that while he was on a 30-minute drive around San Francisco, his AT&T iPhone dropped a call four times, while the Verizon iPhone remained connected.

But there are some limitations to the Verizon iPhone. CNET's Dolcourt pointed out "7 things the Verizon iPhone doesn't have." For example, there's no SIM card, no international roaming on GSM networks, and no browsing the Web while on a phone call. Check out her story for more details and comparisons between the AT&T version of the iPhone 4 and the Verizon Wireless version.

Update at 8:20 p.m. PT: Verizon reports it has sold out of pre-orders.