US-based iPhone fans are rejoicing the rumour that has finally come true: Verizon on Tuesday announced that it would offer Apple's iconic iPhone 4 on its network, becoming the second carrier in the US to offer the smartphone after AT&T.
The smartphone will run on Verizon's 3G EV-DO network, and will become available early next month, said Tim Cook, Apple's chief operating officer, at a Verizon launch event in New York.
"All of Apple is very very happy to bring the iPhone to Verizon's 93 million customers," he said.
While the launch comes at a time when Verizon is ramping up the rollout of its LTE network, the new phone does not run on the faster network. That fact will surely disappoint hopeful customers. The phone is compatible with Verizon's 3G EV-DO network, which promises download speeds of 600 Kbps to 1.4 Mbps.
That makes the iPhone 4 on AT&T capable of faster download speeds. Many reviewers report typical throughput of around 3 Mbps on the iPhone 4. However, even though that's faster than Verizon's EV-DO network, current iPhone users tend to complain about network coverage and availability. It doesn't matter how fast a network is if the user can't connect to it.
AT&T has been the only carrier offering the iPhone in the US since its launch in June 2007; while Apple originally went with O2 as the sole UK supplier, it long since moved to a multi-carrier strategy. UK-based iPhone owners can now choose a contratfrom a range of carriers including Vodafone, O2, Orange, or Three - or purchase the iPhone 4 unlocked to work with any carrier.
Many US users have complained about the performance on AT&T's network and believe they'd have better luck on Verizon's network. Rumors of a Verizon iPhone have been persistent nearly since the initial launch of the phone over three years ago.
Verizon began talking to Apple in 2008 about bringing to phone to its network, said Lowell McAdam, president and chief operating officer of Verizon. They started testing it in 2009.
The specifications of the phone appear to be similar to the original iPhone 4 that starting shipping in June last year. It comes with a 3.5-inch “Retina” screen that displays images at a 960 by 640 resolution.
The phone will include an Apple-developed A4 chip.
It remains to be seen how the availability of the iPhone from Verizon may impact AT&T. ComScore recently said that as of November, Apple had 25 percent of the U.S. smartphone market. That amounts to a significant number of phones on AT&T's network. In the third quarter of last year alone, AT&T reported it activated 5.2 million iPhones.
However, just last week, a Consumer Reports customer satisfaction survey ranked AT&T last among mobile operators. Over half of the 58,000 respondents who were AT&T customers used iPhones. Still, in order to switch to Verizon, an existing iPhone user will have to buy a new phone and potentially either wait out or pay to break their contract with AT&T.