Verizon's iPhone news: Is it a dealbreaker without 4G?

Verizon's iPhone news: Is it a dealbreaker without 4G?

Summary: It's official. iPhone comes to Verizon - but in 3G, not 4G LTE.

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The dust hasn't even settled at the Verizon iPhone event in New York City and I can already hear the groans from techies across the country: What? No LTE for the Verizon iPhone?

It appears to be true, folks. The iPhone is finally coming to Verizon Wireless - and just days after Verizon Wireless made a huge splash at CES over the wonders of a blazing fast LTE 4G network, it appears that the world's most popular smartphone won't be running on it.

Here are the details you need to know: The CDMA iPhone for Verizon Wireless will be available on Feb. 10, though existing customers can pre-order beginning Feb. 3. Pricing is set at $200 for a 16 GB model and $300 for the 32 GB device and you'll have to sign a two-year contract.

They call it the iPhone 4 - just like what's available on the AT&T network now. But I'm already seeing tweets from people calling it iPhone 4G. Let's not confuse the two, folks. This is a 3G device.

More reports:

Sigh. I'm feeling very "Day Late and Dollar Short" on this one. Maybe if Verizon hadn't been talking up LTE so much during CES, I might be a bit more pumped up about this. Interestingly enough, when asked about why the device isn't 4G, Apple's Tim Cook says that Verizon customers have been saying that they want iPhone now, not later.

But Verizon customers have been saying that for years. Suddenly, they're listening? Now? When we're on the cusp of a major shift in mobile broadband networks? Could the timing be any worse?

Certainly, Apple and Verizon will sell millions of these devices and people will brave winter blizzards to be the first in line to get one a month from now. Cook didn't say much about the product roadmap - such as when iPhone 5 with 4G LTE technology might become available. And that just might be enough to keep some folks from jumping ship - whether that's a jump from AT&T or a jump from Android - in the early days.

While I've already declared that I will stay faithful to Android - and am already looking forward to the Thunderbolt on LTE - this pretty much drives the final nail into any hesitation that might surfaced with today's news announcement.

Still, it's time for iPhone-envious Verizon customers and AT&T-hating iPhone owners across the land to rejoice. You got what you've been asking for. It's too bad that what you wanted has actually changed since you first started asking.

[poll id="160"]

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

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128 comments
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  • For a tiny percentage, sure

    for most people, not at all.
    John Zern
    • Given the Bionic was very flakey at CES.

      @John Zern

      Waiting is a good idea. Make sure all the bugs are gone, code and HW are solid. Battery performance is well understood.

      For most, it is a non-issue since CDMA is fairly fast (not HSPA but good enough for most).
      Bruizer
      • No argument. I'm just basing it on

        the amount of people who will buy it just to "have an iPhone" whether it's the best choice or not for what they're looking for, as many don't understand or really consider the purchase from a technical aspect.
        John Zern
      • RE: Verizon's iPhone news: Is it a dealbreaker without 4G?

        @Bruizer <br>Yep, waiting is the key here. Considering that apple has been working on this deal with Verizon fro about a year or so now, 4G LTE wasn't on the table as and option. If it were, it would have been 4G ready.<br><br>Wait until iPhone 5 (the true iPhone 4g phone) for at&t hits when on at&t's 4g LTE network goes live as early as March and as late as August of 2011. at&t has been advertising 4g lately on TV.
        Free Webapps
      • RE: Verizon's iPhone news: Is it a dealbreaker without 4G?

        @Free Webapps AT&T's "4G" ads are initially for their HSPA+ network, which, as everyone knows, is last-generation 3G, not the pre-4G of LTE or WiMax.

        That could easily bite them, too... particularly given that the HSPA+ devices aren't necessarily LTE compatible, yet, folks are going to be tricked into buying "4G" for the next two years, without actually getting that.
        Hazydave
    • Correct: iPhone's *much* better screen and battery life is the dealmaker

      @John Zern: also, iPhone 4 still has the best camera aside of specilized cameraphones, and the widest choice of applications, and the widest media library, and AirPlay possibility.<br><br>Also <b>outer construction of antenna, according to AnandTech testing, is 6.7 times (8 dB) more sensitive than regular internal antenna.</b><br><br>With presence of Wi-Fi spots everywhere, spottiness and expensiveness of LTE for the coming couple of years, iPhone 4 is by far more reasonable choice than that huge Bionic with worse screen, worse battery life, worse photos, worse antenna sensitivity, less polished OS, less choice of applications, much lesser media library, no Airplay possiblity.<br><br>And yes, double cores now are just marketing stunt since there is no software for that to be useful. When/if Apple releases double-core iPhone 5 this summer, then only major software developers will actually care to produce serious applications for that power.
      DDERSSS
      • denisrs, you left out the part where an outer construction

        antenna is also way more sensitive to distortion and signal interfearence/loss when touched, which is the primary flaw with the iphone 4 design.
        John Zern
      • Yes, iPhone 4 antenna has pluses and minuses

        @johnzern: you are right. Still, in common case ability to keep lower signal is more important than occasional death-grip -- if registered (<b>people will less sweaty hands like David Pogue may not see the death grip effect no matter how much they try</b>) -- which can be immediately avoided just by readjusting the way one holds the phone.
        DDERSSS
      • wifi hotspot use may be more complicated

        @denisrs
        My iphone automatically connects to most wifi hotspots (starbucks, mcD's, many hotels and other wayport locations) without any interaction because those are at&t controlled. Wife's VZW smartphone has to negotiate on the splash page for acceptable use, etc and often gets refused without a paid ID. Folks switching from att to vzw might not realize that.
        dbgreen53
      • That could be true, but iOS support non-annoying Wi-Fi tracking

        @dbgreen53: lets see how it will go.
        DDERSSS
      • RE: Verizon's iPhone news: Is it a dealbreaker without 4G?

        @denisrs <br>The phone in Samsung Focus is better over iPhone. I have iPhone 4, EVO 4G and Focus and Focus camera experience and quality is much better than iPhone 4.
        Ram U
      • Impossible, since Focu's sensor is not backslide illuminated

        @Rama.NET: (megapixels quantity is the same)
        DDERSSS
      • Not as sensitive as you might think

        @John Zern: I purchased an iPhone 4 only two weeks ago and have actively tried to cause it to fail while I waited for a protective cover on order. At worst, I was able to make it lose one single signal bar out of three where I live and outside of traveling to one of several dead spots I know, have not managed to lose a single call since purchase.

        Before you say I'm buying the cover to 'hide' the antenna, let me correct you now. I prefer to add protection from drops and dirt that my phones naturally collect when riding in my shirt pockets. I also happen to like the more secure grip I get with the rubbery latex around the edges. Besides, it also helps me individualize my phone when you consider my wife and I each have one and it's harder to confuse with other people's phones. If you think I buy an iPhone for the 'status symbol' it supposedly offers, the cover I use mostly hides the Apple logo, so the only way someone will know for sure is if they look at it closely.
        Vulpinemac
      • RE: Verizon's iPhone news: Is it a dealbreaker without 4G?

        @denisrs There's no way the external iPhone antenna is more sensitive than most internal antennas... not to mention that most high-end cellphones have multiple diversity or MIMO antennas -- a single antenna of any sensitivity fails if you have your hand over it.

        And that's also not what any of the AnandTech articles suggested.. their comparisons were limited, and produced mixed results. Sometimes the iPhone 4 did better, sometimes it didn't. And they didn't carefully document 850MHz vs. 1900MHz performance, an issue for AT&T, not for the Nexus One on T-Mobile (the one non-Apple phone analyzed in their first two articles).

        Not to mention how antennas actually work... if you really have that much gain in antenna (impossible given their geometries, but let's pretend), you're adding directionality. A pure omnidirectional antenna has 0dBi gain... the sensitivity looks like a perfect sphere. You can bend and stretch that sphere in any direction, but you can't change the volume... gain in one direction means loss in another. That's a great idea for a fixed antenna... you can find 20+dBi Yagi antennas. But for a moving cellphone, you don't want any extra gain... unless there's more than one antenna. Otherwise, you'll have just as much loss, if the orientation of the antenna is wrong.

        As for dual-core...well, sure, every other high-end smart phone is going dual core now. Expect Apple to release a new iPad in the later Winter/early Spring, and the new iPhone may well have that SOC.... probably another stripped-down version of whatever Samsung's putting in their own phones, just as the "A4" was.

        Also realize that, all things being equal, LTE will give you better battery life, not worse, than 3G protocols. All of the 3G protocols use OFDM modulation, which has a very high creating factor on the RF signal. In simple terms, this means that, for example, if the average signal is 27dBm out (1/2W), the peak may well be 35dBm or more (depending on the exact protocol)... several watts. The power amplifier design has to suffice for the power peaks, regardless of the average... any signal compression will kill the link.

        Older "4G" (well, close) protocols like WiMax still use OFDM, and as many Sprint customers can attest, the power drain on the mobile devices go up when you go to 4G. This is also the case jumping from HSPA to HSPA+... the higher speed protocols add multiple carriers. Modern OFDM protocols can have well over 1000 carriers in a single signal. The cresting factor issues come when they all line up.

        LTE solves this used SC-FDMA... a single carrier protocol, which works like a linear precoded OFDM scheme, for uplink. The PAPR (peak to average power requirement) is much lower, thus, dramatic savings in the power needed for the portable unit's power amplifier.
        Hazydave
      • RE: Verizon's iPhone news: Is it a dealbreaker without 4G?

        @denisrs You're an idiot if you actually believe the hogwash you're spouting. Single core or dual core or even Quad core Soc does Not require any more work for developers or present apps to run on them. That's already in kernel of the OS and it's API's and how they interact with hardware fool. I don't need a completely different OS to take advantage of multi-cores, when Android and Linux already multitask without the phony excuse for multitasking iOS4 employs.<br><br>Go read up on the projections for Android on both phones and slates. It will still kill CrApple's call dropping glass breaking junk!!! ;) .....oh and Samsung alone is in the #2 spot now. Only Nokia to beat now with their devices going on all US carriers with your choice of devices and Operating Systems. Eat your heart out you CrApplenoid suckers!!!
        i2fun
    • RE: Verizon's iPhone news: Is it a dealbreaker without 4G?

      Wow... CNET Editors have been whining for years about not having the iPhone on Verizon, now that it's hear you're gonna whine about LTE? Really? <br><br>Of course they are not going to have 4G on the first Verizon iPhone. Millions of people will buy it for the next six months and will not care or want to wait any longer.<br><br>For those who must have the latest and greatest technology, they'll wait and presumably this summer Apple will release the next iPhone (iPhone 4G or iPhone 5) this summer which will hopefully be LTE and then millions more will but it.<br><br>Sounds like a good marketing strategy.
      Masari.Jones
      • RE: Verizon's iPhone news: Is it a dealbreaker without 4G?

        @Masari.Jones I think it could be a marketing/money thing too. If they release the iPhone 4 now with 3G then people rush out and get it. How many of those will feel the need to rush out and get the new one with 4G when they release it? Also, if they throw it out there before the 2 year contract is up, people will have to pay the full price. So I have a feeling that's at least part of it.

        And is 4G a battery hog? Sure, it may be, but every device I've seen lets you toggle it off to preserve battery life... so why is that even an issue?
        nakedtaco
      • @nakedtaco: Exactly right, Apple is doing this one right for them

        [i]If they release the iPhone 4 now with 3G then people rush out and get it. How many of those will feel the need to rush out and get the new one with 4G when they release it?[/i]

        Part of Apple's business strategy is to ensure that Apple consumers upgrade [b]far[/b] more frequently than other consumers. Apple makes [b]far[/b] more money if you upgrade once a year instead of once every 2 or 3 years.
        NonZealot
      • RE: Verizon's iPhone news: Is it a dealbreaker without 4G?

        @Masari.Jones Sprint's WiMax "4G" is definitely a battery hog, and always will be. T-Mobile and AT&T's last-generation 3G, HSPA+ (which is being marketed as "4G" or at "4G speeds"), similarly, uses more power than previous protocols.

        LTE, on the other, will be substantially lower in power. We many not see this at first, or not in every LTE phone at least, since there's going to be a need for more signal processing power. But that gets lower in power fast.

        The big thing you can't get rid of in any wireless protocol is uplink power... you need a power amplifier, at up to a Watt or so (depending on the phone), to link back to a cell tower. If you've always used your smart phone in a city with very good cell coverage, you may not notice this being a big deal. That's because it's actually the cell tower that directs the PA output level on your phone. But take your phone to a fringe area, and even the cell ping (the phone has to ping the cell every so often to tell the cell it's still there) will wear down your phone's battery fast.

        LTE's uplink protocol actually allows a much lower power PA than HSPA, HSPA+, EvDO, WiMax, or other 3G+ protocols. That's the big reason WiMax did have much success (it's only Sprint/Clear/Comcast -- they're all the same network -- in the USA on any scale), and LTE is being adopted, in time anyway, by everyone else.
        Hazydave
    • poll

      @John Zern there needs to be a fourth option. 4g is important to me and i'm going to stick with my current phone until the 4g iPhone become available.. just saying
      webdevtj