Verizon iPhone hits shelves Feb 10

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The wait is over.  Verizon Wireless announced Tuesday that the carrier will begin selling the iPhone next month.

Verizon customers can begin pre-ordering the iPhone 4 on Feb. 3, while the world’s most popular phone will actually hit the shelves in Verizon and Apple stores a week later, on Feb. 10.

“If the press writes something long enough and hard enough, it eventually comes true,” said Verizon President Lowell McAdam at Tuesday’s press conference.

The Verizon issued iPhone 4 will almost duplicate the AT&T model, with the Verizon version slightly modified to operate on a CDMA network. Like AT&T, the Verizon iPhone will run $199 for 16GB and $299 for 32GB with the signing of a two-year contract.

While Verizon’s network will drop fewer calls, the CDMA network means the Verizon iPhone won’t be capable of simultaneous phone and web use.  Verizon is currently developing their LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network, which would fit the new generation of smart phones perfectly, but those who jump ship from AT&T’s GSM/UMTS network will be sacrificing perks that the CDMA technology can’t quite deliver.

According to Apple COO Tim Cook, using the unproven LTE network right out of the gate would, “force some design compromises … Most importantly, Verizon Wireless customers have told us they want the iPhone now.”

No word yet on if or when a 4G iPhone will hit the shelves, but Verizon did announce at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that four of their phones will operate on the 4G network by mid-year.

In addition to not being able to talk and surf at the same time, Verizon customers will be using a slower 3G network, possibly sacrifice international use, and be lacking a sim card, meaning swapping out iPhones got that much more time consuming.

One impressive option that the Verizon iPhone will have on the AT&T version is the ability to be used as a wireless hotspot.  Up to five devices will be able to connect to the web using the Verizon iPhone for WiFi.

AT&T has carried the iPhone exclusively since the product launched in the Summer of 2007.  For users still under an AT&T contract, moving to Verizon will mean eating a cancellation fee, which could cost you as much as $325.

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