iPhone 4 on Verizon: how, when, where, and whether to buy it

By Chris Ziegler/Engadget.com

The day of destiny is nearly upon us: on February 10th, you’ll finally be able to get an iPhone that works on Verizon. For us in the tech media, that’s one blown-out, seemingly never-ending rumor that we never have to write about again — whew! — but for you, this could very well mark the beginning of a magical journey. Of course, there are many, many things to consider that’ll influence your decision to buy: what carrier are you on currently? Do you already have an iPhone? How much traveling do you do? Are you a vegetarian? The list goes on and on — and we intend to help you figure it all out in time for launch day. What’s more, we’ll take a look at some of your best alternatives, too, because let’s be honest: just because the Verizon iPhone is here doesn’t mean that it’s right for everyone. So without further ado, let’s dive in and get this figured out.

The basics

With the amount of buzz this device has endured, you might think that it’s the obvious choice over its AT&T counterpart. Well, that’s not exactly true: turns out there are compelling reasons to buy both versions — or an entirely different device altogether. Your circumstances will vary, of course; something as simple as wireless coverage in your neighborhood might be the ultimate deciding factor, for example, but in this guide we’re hoping to break down some of the key reasons why you might be leaning Red or Blue in this smartphone election cycle.

As you might expect, the iPhone 4 on Verizon is very similar to the iPhone 4 that’s already been deployed around the world since last June: same overall design, same gorgeous display, same fast processor, same memory, same storage capacity options, and same color choices (which, for the moment, is still just black). There are a few key exceptions, however. The biggest change is that the Verizon model uses a CDMA cellular radio in place of the existing handset’s GSM radio, which means you can use it on Verizon’s nationwide 3G network along with a few slivers of legacy 2G coverage here and there. Verizon’s 2G network isn’t great — calls you receive will go straight to voicemail while you’re using data services, for example, and it’s very slow for a device like the iPhone that thrives on high-bandwidth connections — but the good news is that you should very rarely encounter it. The carrier frequently touts the overwhelming size of its 3G footprint, and the claims are pretty legitimate.

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