R2-D2's best feature? NFL Mobile

The iPhone has been rumored to be coming to Verizon Wireless for many years now and it looks like it may finally happen in 2011. Anyone who's read these pages more than a couples times know that I'm partial to Verizon for my wireless service because it just works better where I live.

The iPhone has been rumored to be coming to Verizon Wireless for many years now and it looks like it may finally happen in 2011. Anyone who's read these pages more than a couples times know that I'm partial to Verizon for my wireless service because it just works better where I live.

I've been testing the new Droid R2-D2 handset ($249 from Verizon Wireless) which is essentially a Droid 2 with a cool paint job to look like the lovable android from the Star Wars franchise.

In addition to the white and silver color scheme, R2-D2 ships with exclusive content licensed from Lucasfilm including R2-D2 notifications and ringtones, live wallpapers, clock widget, an official lightsaber app (curiously called "Lightsword"), a funky Star Wars ESB Binoculars app and a short “Best of R2-D2” video set to the original Cantina music.

I definitely like some the capabilities and that "wild west" feeling of Android, but I've found another reason to prefer Verizon -- it has the exclusive rights to NFL Mobile on wireless devices for the next four years, a deal the WSJ values at $720 million. This means that if you want to watch the NFL on your smartphone, it will need to have the "Verizon" silkscreened on it.

Don't get me wrong, a 3 or 4-inch screen will never replace watching NFL football on a large panel sitting on a comfy couch, but if you travel on Sunday's and can't stand missing games while in transit - it's a viable option. Having the NFL on my phone is undeniably convenient, in fact I watched tonight's Sunday Night NFL game and it was very watchable with only an occasional audio drop-out or video hang. On Wi-Fi the quality was even better.

Through the exclusive deal Verizon Wireless customers get live streaming video of Thursday and Sunday Night Football games, NFL RedZone, NFL Network and some other football goodies. Viewing NFL video requires a $10/month VCAST Video On Demand subscription but you can listen to in-game audio for free.

Sure, there are several ways to get limited football coverage on the iPhone, (including PlusMo, Sportacular and their ilk) but nothing beats having live NFL audio and video on my phone. I can't wait for the iPhone to come to Verizon...