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iPhone 4 redesigned antenna: What does the Verizon launch mean for Brits?

There's a new Apple iPhone in the US, but what does the slightly altered antenna design mean for us Brits?

There's now more than one network offering the Apple iPhone in the US. Verizon will sell the iPhone 4 from 3 February, breaking AT&T's monopoly on the phone. And, when it does, the phone will be redesigned -- specifically the controversial and much-maligned antenna. Not only that, it'll be running the next update to the operating system, which means iOS 4.2.5 could arrive in February.

The Verizon iPhone 4 is the first CDMA iPhone. CDMA is a mobile-phone signal standard mainly used in the US, while we use GSM. AT&T's GSM network meant that its iPhone was the same design as the GSM iPhone sold here and in Europe, but the new CDMA Verizon iPhone needs a different antenna. Have a squizz at our picture, above, and you'll see new seams in the silver surround at the top of the phone.

The question is whether Apple has used the opportunity to also fix the antenna problems that blighted the iPhone 4 launch. The antennas are built into the metal surround of the handset and holding the phone in a certain way -- the 'death grip' -- kills your signal. While the bonnet was popped on the phone, Apple may have had a crack at the problem: could we see different antennas on new iPhones, or are we too close to the next version's expected summer launch to bother? 

Verizon's iPhone offers the ability to transmit Wi-Fi to laptops and other devices: to act as a hotspot, in other words. We're pretty sure this means we'll get this in the UK with the update to iOS 4.2.5. You'll have to pay extra for it, as you do now with Bluetooth and USB tethering, but the functionality should be there.

Another tiny tweak to the design is that the mute button in a slightly different place, which means original iPhone 4 cases won't fit. Our US colleagues are pawing the VeriPhone as we speak, so we'll let you know what they think very soon.

Readers! Whether you're American or British, does the antenna redesign allay your fears about the death grip? And would you commit to a two-year contract when a new iPhone model is expected in just a few short months? iPhone thoughts in the usual place, please.