CNET First Look
Verizon iPhone 4The Verizon iPhone has much in common with its AT&T counterpart, but varying features and differing performance give it enough room to stand apart. It won't vastly change your iPhone experience, but we welcome the consumer choice that it brings.
Hi, I'm Kent German, senior editor for cnet.com. Today, we'll take a first look at the Verizon iPhone 4. Indeed, I was very happy when the Verizon and Apple announced this phone in early January. Sure it's great that AT&T is no longer an exclusive carrier, but I'm more excited that longest cast rumors finally have been put to rest. So, what is the Verizon iPhone? Well, the answer is the Verizon iPhone is almost the same devices of the AT&T counterpart. There is couple of differences and one is pretty important, but it's still the same phone in most regards. I'll start with the one difference in the design. To accommodate the CDMA antenna that bring your switch has to move slightly closer to the volume racker. Also, the gap that's currently on top of the AT&T handset has been moved to the top left side. Apple wouldn't discuss the specifics of the re-design, but in preliminary testing, we didn't encounter death grip that we found on the AT&T iPhone. Unfortunately though, the antenna change means that many current iPhone cases like this here won't fit, so you need to buy new ones. Also, because it runs on CDMA, the Verizon iPhone doesn't have a SIM card slot. Otherwise, the price in handset is exactly the same. You'll find the same controls, camera features, headset and charger jacks, speaker and microphone, and retina display. Verizon will carry the Y iPhone, but we will have no idea when that will be. Last time I heard was sometime in spring. Now, inside the Verizon iPhone is one major difference. Unlike the AT&T handset, the Verizon iPhone can function as a personal hotspot for up to 5 devices. You will need to activate the hotspot functionality with Verizon first, once you do, it will appear in the settings menu. So, after you set a password and you turn on the feature, you can get started. You can connect devices through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and also USB cable. It's really nice you can use all 3 connections types at once. Another difference is the Verizon iPhone currently runs iOS 4.2.6 while in comparison, the AT&T iPhone runs iOS 4.2.1. Apples in 4.2.6 is a version unique to the Verizon handset and the only change it brings are CDMA support and hotspot feature. The other features of the device are exactly the same, so expect to see no changes from the AT&T phone. Of course, there are few things that Verizon iPhone can't do. Unlike AT&T's handset, it can't perform simultaneous voice and data. If you're on Wi-Fi, it does do that, but if you're on the cellular network, no, and it doesn't offer global roaming for GSM networks. Also, the Verizon is growing its LTE 4G network. It's currently Verizon iPhone with top out of 3G. We're still on the midst of testing the device, you'll have read the review for a full performance analysis. Voice quality, however, we notice few differences, but it's a preliminary testing, so I won't emphasize that. Whatever our results though, I have to stress that you shouldn't expect the Verizon iPhone to be a miracle device. You will see differences, no doubt, but don't expect to completely cure your reception loads. You're still using the cellular network that will vary according to your location, interference, and how many people using at one time. The expectations for Verizon iPhone are immensely and ridiculously high and this handset I have to say runs a big risk of not living up it. That's why it's important to keep those hopes and check. Just recognize this is a phone, still gonna have problems once in a while. More importantly though, the latest smart phone landscape is very, very different than it was in 2007 when the first iPhone went on sale. Not only other, many other fantastic smart phones in the market, but also there are a lot of people that are perfectly happy with their non-Apple device and don't wanna buy one. The iPhone is on a new carrier. That's great. There's more customer choice and remains a very good phone, but it remains just one player in a very competitive field. I'm Kent German here with the first look at the Verizon iPhone 4.