Verizon's iPhone: How it affects my upgrade calculus

Verizon's iPhone: How it affects my upgrade calculus

Summary: Verizon's iPhone launch is just enough to force this existing customer into the same waiting game we've been playing.

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Verizon's iPhone launch is just enough to force this existing customer into the same waiting game we've been playing. Verizon Wireless finally launched its own version of the iPhone---a 3G network device with a slightly different antenna and the ability to be a personal hotspot.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that the iPhone is still 3G device that arrives weeks before Verizon launches 4G, or speedier Long-Term Evolution smartphones.

All you need to know: Coverage as it happened, Verizon's FAQ, Techmeme, Verizon statement, event gallery, all incoming Verizon iPhone coverage

Now if you're an existing Verizon customer with a contract that's up---like me---the iPhone launch is a mixed bag. Sure you can scoop up an iPhone 4 Feb. 10, but you could quickly have buyer's remorse. My buying calculus looks like this:

  • My contract is up and I have a BlackBerry Storm (gasp!) that's on its last legs.
  • I've been holding out for a 4G device.
  • To go to an iPhone on Verizon I wanted a 4G capable and personal hotspot functionality. I got half of that.
  • I'm too cheap to pay an early termination fee in the name of having a swell smartphone so I better pick the right device.

All of these moving parts are complicated by the fact Apple is likely to launch an iPhone 5 this summer. If I've waited this long why not hang out a bit more to see if the iPhone 5 will be 4G capable? Play this to the extreme and I may never get a new smartphone.

Given that Android devices are about to be 4G capable in March or so on Verizon Wireless, the first inclination is to go with one of those devices. However, you're only looking at a few weeks to see if the iPhone 5 will be 4G ready.

Simply put, if you've been playing the waiting game at Verizon Wireless you may be compelled to wait just a bit longer. Following the Verizon iPhone press conference I'm left to conclude:

  • AT&T will be safe for a bit.
  • Verizon Wireless will still move a lot of iPhones.
  • A few folks will wait for 4G.
  • Android will remain a big option at Verizon, but AT&T will cannibalize Droid sales a bit.
  • Verizon's network will truly be tested by the iPhone. At stake is its reputation and AT&T's on network quality. If Verizon stumbles AT&T will look better.

Why is this so difficult? Two-year contracts

Perhaps my biggest gripe with this iPhone vs. Android buying decision and silly acronyms like CDMA and LTE is the fact that you're locked into a two-year contract.

If I had a one-year contract without termination fees, the decision would be much easier. You wouldn't have to worry about lock-in and future-proofed networks. The reality is that you're married to your smartphone for two years.

Bottom line: The smartphone industry is moving way too quickly for two-year contracts. We're in a fast-moving industry with tired subscription models. We need something new.

Related:

Topics: iPhone, Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones, Verizon, Wi-Fi

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34 comments
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  • should've been 4g out the doot

    Unless there was a deal that allows AT&T to release the first 4g iPhone, there is no reason Verizon shouldn't have waited a month for the Apple Dev Conference and announced a 4g model. Are they going to sell lots of 3g models? Absolutely. However it should have been 4g and had 1080p, not 720p.
    robertjm123
    • RE: Verizon's iPhone: How it affects my upgrade calculus

      @robertjm123: Err, why?

      I ask this because, outside of NYC and SFO (and perhaps Los Angeles), LTE/4G is going to take awhile to get to {insert random town here}. Even here in PDX, I could buy a 4G phone, but not be able to use it for 1/2 to 3/4 of the contract period... so, err, what would be the point? Bragging rights (and a bigger bill) over something that I can't use yet?

      Coming out with 4G phones this soon before the networks are even halfway close to catching up? It only guarantees an easy means of winnowing out the ignorant and the suckers. ;)
      Random_Walk
  • RE: Verizon's iPhone: How it affects my upgrade calculus

    think its a bad business venture for verizon. They are doing well with the android devices and coming out with a whole new line up that will run on the the LTE 4g network. With this company today its all about beating AT&T. They need to be taking care of there workers who got them #1
    SnowMan2010
  • How about paying more for a 1 year contract?

    I can't find any data on this right now, but my sister gets verizon android phones on a 1-year contract by paying $150 more up front. I remember seeing it, but can't find it now. Maybe they stopped offering it, not sure.
    bstringy
    • RE: Verizon's iPhone: How it affects my upgrade calculus

      @bstringy You can still only do a 1 year contract with Verizon but like you said you pay more for the phone up front. For example if I purchase a Droid Pro on a 2 year contract it's $180 but on a 1 year contract it's $250. Both prices are after a $100 mail in rebate.<br><br>Go to Verizon's site and shop by phones. Click the phone you want and you can choose a 1 or 2 year contract on the right. You can even choose to purchase it with no contract. You don't have to be locked into a 2 year contract unless you really want to be.
      mike.celone@...
  • &quot;4G&quot;/LTE will be very spotty and pricy for two years

    So, no, <b>absense of LTE support does not mean much.</b>
    DDERSSS
    • RE: Verizon's iPhone: How it affects my upgrade calculus

      @denisrs : I'm in one of the launch markets. Granted, it won't always be available when I travel - but within the major markets it is available. And with a 2-year contract, coverage will only improve during the life of the phone.

      As to price: care to share the pricing you seem to know is coming? The only pricing I see released so far is on their aircard devices, which currently have identical pricing to their 3G aircard data plans.
      DBEvans
  • i believe Tim Cook..

    Apple waited for 2nd gen chips for iPhone 3G as well.. same deal the 1st gen chips chewed up battery as well.. not to mention that the networks are yet rolled out to any great extent and 4G pricing and data caps suck right now.. data needs to get lots cheaper for 4G to really matter..

    i bet Apple releases a dual core device, then the next go round goes for 4G.. 4G is just not fully baked and Apple's history is that it waits for it to be solid before it jumps on it..
    doctorSpoc
    • RE: Verizon's iPhone: How it affects my upgrade calculus

      @doctorSpoc : The pricing and data caps on the 4G aircards are currently identical to the pricing for Verizon's 3G aircards. I can only assume that if you feel 4G is too pricey to be able to use, then you must also feel the same about 3G. So, are you still on 2G?
      DBEvans
      • think why someone would want 4G? at least mass consumers..

        @DBEvans.. 3G is fine except when you to move around big files.. want video streaming etc.. but as you say, the plans are basically the same as 3G plans.. meaning caps of 3-5GBs.. but a "large file" for me is 2GB plus.. meaning that given the plans available 4G still doesn't allow me do the thing that i want to do with it.. not because of tech but because of pricing.. i want a 4G plan with at least 15GB.. 25GB+would be ideal.. with caps of 3-GB 4G is completely useless to me.. whats the point.. i still can't move big files, still can't stream video.. might as well just be using 3G.. there's no point to it for me..
        doctorSpoc
  • RE: Verizon's iPhone: How it affects my upgrade calculus

    [i]Bottom line: The smartphone industry is moving way too quickly for two-year contracts. We?re in a fast-moving industry with tired subscription models. We need something new.[/i]

    That is the best thing I've read in the last 2 days about this whole AT&T vs. Verizon mess.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Verizon's iPhone: How it affects my upgrade calculus

      @Loverock Davidson
      This is the second time I've agreed with you in a week.
      Sunspots?
      Olderdan
      • RE: Verizon's iPhone: How it affects my upgrade calculus

        @Olderdan

        No, Lovey has not thought it through again. The length of the contract relates to the subsidy provided by the phone company. You could buy a phone for full price and have total flexibility on contract. It is easy to calculate if you add up how much you will pay over two years and compare to the discount the phone company if offering.

        Just pay up front and hope you can sell your iPhone 4 when the iPhone 5 comes out.
        jorjitop
  • RE: Verizon's iPhone: How it affects my upgrade calculus

    Someone help decipher the differences (features & benefits) of the iPhone and the other Smart Phones for a non-geek still using a basic flip phone. I have an upgrade available and trying to understand the techno babble so that I can make the right choice. Considering the Droid 2 Global or the Droid R2D2 so please help me understand and compare! Thanks to all who reply in plain clear terms and explanations for non-techie!! (Like having a physical keyboard)
    ngrmn
    • RE: Verizon's iPhone: How it affects my upgrade calculus

      @ngrmn : Try them in a store if you can, or ask to be shown whatever ones your friends have available. No matter what others tell you, no one can say which is right for you except for yourself. All the latest smartphones are really pretty darn good; although each has their plusses and minuses. Which one is best for one person may not be best for the next person.

      Ask a store clerk to walk you through how to perform basic functions (making a call, reviewing contacts, sending a text message, and browsing to a website), then after trying a few different ones, decide which seems to work best for you.
      DBEvans
    • It's really simple.

      @ngrmn

      A Roid device is a pain in the butt and owns you. An iPhone is enjoyable and you own it.

      If you are a tweaker-geek and ejoy a device that you have to constantly tweak, modify, babysit, etc., then go with a Roid. If you are an average person, you want to buy safe apps and you don't care to spend hours messing with settings and hacks, then get an iPhone. If you want the biggest selection of Apps, then go with the iPhone (300K). The Roid store has less than 130K apps and none of then have gone thgrough any quality testing and many are developer duplicates (so 130K is fictional at best).
      i8thecat
      • Good Lord...

        @i8thecat

        At least be courteous enough to offer him some Kool-Aid to wash down all the BS you're feeding him.
        SonofaSailor
      • RE: Verizon's iPhone: How it affects my upgrade calculus

        @i8thecat Yea your a huge Fanboi. You don't have to tweak Android at all. You jsut DL a task killer and away you go. Everything is straight forward and easy to setup, there are no issues. Everything has multitasking, there are tons of great apps, and the 300k apps on the App store is bs. There are tons of fart apps, book apps (yes many books are their own app, now imagine that), developer duplicate apps, facebook app plugin apps, etc. Android has less of the trash, more of the major stuff. Eventually it will reach the # that Apple has, but it will have tons of crap apps just like the App store does.
        Also when you own a iPhone, you don't actually own it, Apple owns you, as is clearly displayed here.
        Jimster480
      • Is that you Loverock? :-)

        @i8thecat

        Oops! My apologies to Loverock, I did not mean to harm you... by comparing to this clueless guy.

        1. Not tweaks - probably, I am getting older. ;-)
        2. >200K of apps

        Happy Sprint camper with a five HTC EVO 4G family plan.

        @ngrmn
        Listen to DBEvans - his advice is mature, do not listen to i8thecat, he is a troll. :-(
        Solid Water
    • NGRMN, if you're looking for a non-biased answer...

      @ngrmn

      You're at the wrong place.

      For instance, you may read on this site that "you own the iPhone." That's a matter of perspective; research an article from Jason Perlow about having certain apps [i]pulled[/i] from his iPhone after Apple decided to remove them from the app store.

      You will hear that Apple apps are "safe". not so. Certainly not any "safer" than Droid apps. Have a look: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704694004576020083703574602.html?KEYWORDS=iphone+apps

      You will also hear that Apple sotre has 300k apps, while Droid apps only has 130k, and alot of those are duplicates. What you aren't told by those people with an agenda, is that the Apple app store has the same duplicity of apps as the Droid store does. Actually, more duplication, that's [b]why[/b] Apple has more apps.

      Oh, but what you won't hear are things that iPhone can't do, for instance...I'm sure your flip phone has the ability to delete a single call from the call log, without having to delete the entire call log. iPhone cannot do this. unless you jailbreak it (not recommended for a self-described non-techie), which Apple has made it all but impossible to jailbreak the iPhone...which brings us back to who really "owns" the device. (ahem, i8thecat?)

      Friend, you would be better served to do some reading up, and never ask a question on this site and expect to get an honest answer...well, DBEvans provides one, but it's very rare.
      SonofaSailor