It's finally here. The Verizon iPhone. The announcement today in New York City effectively ends AT&T's three-year exclusivity as the phone's sole U.S. carrier. The Verizon iPhone will go on sale early next month.
Lowell McAdam, Verizon president and COO opened the announcement by touting the strength of the Verizon network. "We've made great broadband the hallmark of our service," he said. "We have a history of pushing the envelope in network innovation." McAdam was then joined on stage by Apple's COO Tim Cook, making the long-awaited partnership official.
The Verizon iPhone will have "all the features you expect" and will work on Verizon's CDMA network, the company's equivalent to 3G. This means the Verizon iPhone won't be taking advantage of the LTE network that the company has been building and that it showcased last week at CES.
Existing Verizon customers will be able to pre-order their iPhones on Feb. 3, and on Feb. 10, everyone will be able to order them - online and in Verizon and Apple stores. The iPhone will cost $199 for the 16 GB version and $299 for the 32 GB phone - and as with AT&T, this will require a two-year contract. Included with the Verizon iPhone, however, will be the ability to generate a mobile hotspot, connecting up to five devices.
That's something that isn't currently available to AT&T iPhone users.
While today's announcement ends the battle between the two carriers over which company can offer the iPhone, it hardly puts an end to their competition. AT&T has long sneered at Verizon's ability to match its data speeds. But AT&T has struggled to keep up with iPhone users' heavy data consumption, and made the decision with the release of the iPhone 4 to restrict new customers to a limited data plan. Verizon, for its part, seems confident enough in its infrastructure that, according to The Wall Street Journal, it plans to offer iPhone customers unlimited data. There was no word at today's press conference, however, about data caps or pricing for data plans.
Verizon says it expects to be able to provide an iPhone to all its customers that want one.
After the long wait for the iPhone, we'll see if Verizon customers - and disgruntled AT&T customers - grab one now, or if they wait just a few more months, when Apple is expected to roll out an iPhone 5.