iPhone 4 comes to Verizon (live blog)

Apple joins Verizon Wireless at an event to announce that the iPhone 4 is coming early next month to the carrier.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
10 min read

Editor's note: This live event has concluded. For a brief rundown of what was announced, check out our summary post here. You can also read the transcript of our live blog below or replay our live blog in the Cover It Live module at the end of the transcript.

Today is D-Day for the announcement of the much-anticipated Verizon iPhone, or so hope millions of iPhone fans, who want another carrier option.

Verizon iPhone hands-on (photos)

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Verizon Wireless is holding a press conference in New York on Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET at Lincoln Center (That's 8 a.m. PT.) The company hasn't confirmed that the announcement--scheduled only days after the company announced 10 new devices for its 4G network--is for the iPhone. But sources have told other news agencies that it is indeed the long-awaited Verizon iPhone.

CNET reporters and photographers will be at the event in force with video coverage as well as a live blog of the news.

So far, it's unclear whether the Verizon iPhone might be 4G-compatible or if it will be able to roam onto carrier networks overseas. But what is known is that it is likely to be a huge disruptive force in the market as millions of potential customers in the U.S. now have a choice in a carrier for the iPhone.

AT&T has the exclusive contract in the U.S. to sell the iPhone since it was introduced in 2007. One survey indicates that as many as 23 percent of AT&T's iPhone customers could jump ship from AT&T to Verizon once the phone is on the market. But even without AT&T defectors, the iPhone is likely to be popular on Verizon. With only about 40 percent of wireless subscribers today using a smartphone, there are still millions of U.S. wireless customers ripe for an upgrade to a smartphone. And many will likely choose the Verizon iPhone.

Of course, Apple faces stiff competition at Verizon, as the carrier is also promoting an increasing lineup of Google Android. But if history is any indication of what to expect, the iPhone doesn't follow conventional product trends. And the pent-up demand for the popular iPhone on the Verizon network may be enough to help double sales of the device for Apple in the next year.

If you want to follow the action as it develops at the Verizon press conference Tuesday morning, be sure to check out the CNET live blog in the Cover It Live module below. You can also sign up for an e-mail reminder for the event.

Live blog transcript starts here

10:53 a.m. ET: (from Bonnie Cha) Hey everyone. Maggie and I are in and seated.

10:57 a.m.: (from John Falcone) If you go to http://cnettv.cnet.com/live/, you'll hear our own Natali Morris on the phone, calling in live from the event.

Team CNET: Maggie Reardon (center) and Bonnie Cha (right)

10:59 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) The program is about to begin. Please take your seats. (If you aren't already seated at home.)

10:59 a.m.: (from Bonnie Cha) Lights are dimming. Here we go.

11:00 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) COO of Verizon Lowell McAdam is now on stage. Says that by the looks of things, we are all expecting something big.

Lowell McAdam

11:00 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) If the press writes something long enough and hard enough it comes true, says McAdam.

11:01 a.m.: (from Caroline McCarthy) @Maggie Reardon: REALLY? My job just got so much more exciting.

11:01 a.m. ET: (from Maggie Reardon) McAdam says it was clear from CES that data, broadband, and video is what is driving growth across the entire industry. People want to carry all their digital content from their lives on any device at any time.

11:02 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) Verizon says that its role in this anytime-anywhere world is to bring great content to devices anywhere. And the network is the key to doing that.

Lowell McAdam

11:03 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) McAdam is talking up the investment that Verizon has made in its network, both its fiber network and wireless network.

The Fios infrastructure is the only infrastructure that is truly future-proof.

11:04 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) Now he is talking about the wireless network, claiming it's the most reliable 3G network.

McAdam makes a crack about the 4G hype and says that Verizon considered calling their LTE network 6G. McAdam has a sense of humor.

11:05 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) Collaboration is the key to Verizon's innovation, McAdam says. He says they don't just settle for procuring products but forming partnerships.

He keeps talking up LTE. Will this iPhone be LTE? I really don't think so, but it would be interesting to be surprised.

11:06 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) OK, here we go. He officially announces the latest partner is the tech giant Apple.

11:06 a.m.: (from Caroline McCarthy) WOOOOOOO

Screenshot of Verizon's Web site. Screenshot by CNET

Verizon's Lowell McAdam (left) and Apple's Tim Cook

11:08 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) The strategic relationship started over two years ago. In 2008, they talked about bringing an iPhone to the CDMA network. And they designed and tested to make sure it would come up to the standards of Verizon.

Early next month the iPhone 4 will be part of the Verizon portfolio of products. McAdam says he is more excited about the partnership than the device itself.

11:08 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) McAdam introduces Tim Cook, COO of Apple. The two shake hands.

11:10 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) Cook says that the iPhone has been a huge success since 2007 when it was launched. And he says he is incredibly happy and very excited to bring the iPhone to Verizon's 93 million customers and new customers who want to use the iPhone 4 on Verizon.

He says that he is pleased to give Verizon customers the choice they've been looking for.

The iPhone 4 has all the same features that the AT&T version has. It connects to the CDMA network. No mention of LTE, as I suspected.

11:10 a.m.: (from Bonnie Cha) It has all the features you would expect: FaceTime, retina display, 5-megapixel camera with LED flash and HD video camera, and Apple's A4 chip.

Tim Cook talks about the iPhone on Verizon.

11:12 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) Cook says he has enormous respect for Verizon and its team and the hard-earned loyalty they have won. And this is just the beginning of a great relationship.

My guess is that an LTE phone is certainly in the future. When? Not sure but they are paving the way.

Cook hands off the stage to Dan Mead, Verizon Wireless CEO.

Tim Cook (left) introduces Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead.

11:13 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) Wireless customers in the U.S. have a choice they've never had before: the world's first CDMA iPhone 4.

11:13 a.m.: (from Bonnie Cha) Verizon will offer the iPhone to new and existing customers.

11:14 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) Mead talks about getting the operations ready to go. The company will be training employees this week. And has already been scaling back room systems to handle the demand for the new device. And merchandising is ready to go in Verizon and Apple stores.

Mead is now talking about the robustness of the network. He says Verizon has more than enough capacity. He says Verizon always keeps customers top of mind. He says that he is very pleased with the drive tests of the device on the network.

11:15 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) He says that Verizon has been building capacity in the network to get ready for this launch. He says they monitored the network from the ground up to make sure they will provide a great experience.

11:15 a.m.: (from Caroline McCarthy) $199.99 for 16GB with a 2-year contract, per Verizon Wireless Web site.

Verizon Wireless chief Dan Mead

11:16 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) The spectrum and fiber in the ground to the cell sites is what will keep them up to speed. Mead says that Verizon is committed to continue building out capacity as the company moves forward.

11:17 a.m.: (from Caroline McCarthy) Existing VZW customers will be able to "get an iPhone 4 from our reserved quantity before they're available to everyone else," according to Web site.

11:17 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) On Feb. 3 existing VZ customers will have opportunity to preorder the phone. And one week later will launch to everyone on Verizon online and at stores. The price will be $199 for 16GB and $299 for 32GB.

It will also offer the hot-spot capability and allow up to 5 devices to connect to the hot spot.

11:17 a.m.: (from Kent German) Remember that Verizon launched their LTE network just last month. Apple will wait for Verizon's LTE network to be available to more cities (it's not nearly nationwide right now) and fully tested by smartphone users (only laptop users get it right now).

11:18 a.m.: (from Caroline McCarthy) http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/splash/iphone.jsp

11:18 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) So far no discussion of the antenna issues with the iPhone 4. Not sure if bumpers are included in the new pricing.

11:19 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) Now Tim Cook is coming back to the stage. And the Verizon Wireless CEO and Tim Cook, COO of Apple, will take questions.

Verizon Wireless' Dan Mead (left) and Apple's Tim Cook take questions.

First question: How many CDMA iPhones can they manufacture in the first quarter?

Cook says that he can't get into the forecast. However, he says Apple is incredibly excited to bring the experience to Verizon's 93 million customers and the others that will come to the network.

Mead says that they can't go into details about manufacturing.

11:21 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) Will the CDMA phone be on a one-year upgrade cycle? Cook says that he can't comment on product road maps.

11:21 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) Why isn't this a 4G LTE phone? Why CDMA?

11:22 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) Cook says two key reasons, the first generation of LTE chipsets forced some design compromises. And secondly, Verizon customers want the iPhone now. I can't tell you the number of times I have been asked over this incredible success run of iPhone when will the iPhone work on Verizon's network.

11:23 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) Mead says that Verizon has the best network in the country and wants to make sure that customers can take advantage of the network. And he said looking at the road map it was the right thing to do now.

11:23 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) Will the CDMA iPhone be exclusive to the Verizon network?

Cook says it's a multiyear deal with Verizon but it's not exclusive. He won't comment on any other details of the deal.

Tim Cook

11:23 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) What changes had to be made to the antenna? Have you done anything different to the antenna?

Cook says that it has to be optimized to work on the CDMA network. Mead says that Verizon has gone through very robust testing and he feels extremely confident that there are no issues.

11:25 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) What happens when using data connection and you get a phone call?

Mead says it's consistent with other CDMA phones. It's the same experience you get on CDMA now. Which means you can't use voice and data at the same time.

11:25 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) Is there an extra charge for tethering?

Mead says he won't talk about pricing for the network connectivity.

11:26 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) The additional feature is the personal hot spot, which can connect up to 5 Wi-Fi devices.

11:26 a.m.: (from Bonnie Cha) Though they're not talking about pricing, really happy to see that the Verizon iPhone can be used as a mobile hot spot.

11:26 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) When will we see an LTE iPhone? And are there any caps on the plan like AT&T?

11:26 a.m.: (from Kent German) Note that the CDMA Development Group has announced that simultaneous voice and data on CDMA is coming the first half of this year. That's all we know right now.

11:27 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) Cook says he can't comment on unannounced products. And Mead says that he isn't commenting on the data plans.

Tim Cook

11:28 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) The iPhone 4 will be available in indirect sales channels. This phone will be available in key distribution partners. Mead isn't announcing dates but says there will be broader availability a few weeks after it's launched.

11:28 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) Someone asking again about the data and voice issue. He asked Cook to describe the experience of switching between the two on a CDMA iPhone.

11:29 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) Cook isn't really answering the question. But reiterates that the most frequently asked question he has heard is when the iPhone is coming to Verizon.

Dan Mead and Tim Cook

11:30 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) Mead says there will be demonstrations. And a bunch of people who will be here to help us all with the demos.

11:30 a.m.: (from Bonnie Cha) I'll be heading over to the demo station, so I'll try to get some of those unanswered questions answered.

11:30 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) The executives shook hands and that's it. The iPhone 4 will soon be on Verizon's network.

11:31 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) No big surprises. No one at CNET thought the phone would be LTE. And it doesn't support LTE, just CDMA.

It has all the same features as the iPhone 4 available on GSM networks, plus it will have the Wi-Fi hot-spot capability.

11:33 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) The one disappointment is that Verizon is not announcing data service pricing. What do they have up their sleeve?

11:35 a.m.: (from Caroline McCarthy) Thanks to all 20,000 of you who joined us today! We're going to shut the live blog down now because the announcement is over. But stay tuned for video, audio, blog posts, commentary, analysis, photo galleries, and far too much else from CNET all day today. Happy Tuesday!

11:35 a.m.: (from reader Marc) I'm interested in the international roaming too on VZ's iPhone--be lame if it did not have the capability

11:35 a.m.: (from Maggie Reardon) That is one thing they did not mention. There was no mention of this phone also having GSM for international roaming. I will ask the folks at the demo, but since it wasn't highlighted my guess is that it doesn't have a GSM chip in it.

Editors' note: The original pre-event version of this story was published January 10 at 3:02 p.m. PT.