Three Reasons to Skip the Verizon iPhone

Last Updated Jan 11, 2011 12:36 PM EST

Well, it's official: the iPhone 4 is coming to Verizon early next month. It'll have all the goodies found in AT&T's version -- FaceTime, Retina display, 5-megapixel camera, etc. -- and the same price tags: $199 and $299 for the 16GB and 32GB models, respectively.

Verizon has yet to announce pricing for its data packages, but did note that Mobile Hotspot will be included. That means you'll be able to use your iPhone as a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to five devices. Nice.

Needless to say, this is huge news for the legions of prospective iPhone customers who were unwilling (or unable, due to contract restrictions) to switch to AT&T.

However, before you set your alarm for an early wake-up on Feb. 3 (the date you can pre-order), take a breath. Not everything about the Verizon iPhone is ideal. Here are three reasons you might just want to skip it:

It doesn't work overseas The Verizon iPhone relies on CDMA technology. If you routinely travel outside North America, you'll encounter many networks that use GSM -- meaning your phone won't work, period. Some CMDA phones include a GSM chip for international roaming, but Verizon made no mention of one here. You'll be able to get voice service in about 40 countries (including, notably, China and India) and data in 20, but that's it.

It doesn't multitask well Another CDMA limitation is that you can't use voice and data connections at the same time. Thus, if you're on a call and need to, say, look something up in Google Maps, you can't. Simultaneous voice and data is in the works for CDMA, but I don't know if this model iPhone will be able to take advantage of it.

It's not the only game in town During the past year, the mad clamoring for a Verizon iPhone took a nosedive. Why? Because competitors finally got in the game. Now you can take your pick from any number of super-cool Android-powered phones, many of which match or even exceed the iPhone's capabilities. My two cents: Apple waited a year too long to bring Verizon into the fold.

Of course, all this might be mitigated by one thing: coverage. AT&T's positively sucks in some places, while Verizon's is widely regarded as excellent.


If you're still undecided, your best bet might be to wait. Rumor has it Verizon plans to offer unlimited data, meaning AT&T might respond soon after with a similar plan and/or lower pricing. What's more, Apple typically refreshes the iPhone in June, so there might be an iPhone 5 just around the corner.

Head to the comments and let me know your thoughts on the Verizon iPhone!

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.