Verizon iPhone 4: Should You Get One Now?

Verizon iPhone 4

Verizon iPhone 4

“Should I get a Verizon iPhone 4?” is the number one question I’ve been asked this week in person, via email, on the web, via smoke signals and by carrier pigeon. The short answer is, no. The long answer is, if you love your existing iPhone 4 but really, really hate AT&T, then yes — but otherwise, no. Here’s why:

Verizon’s iPhone 4 is going to be almost exactly the same as AT&T’s iPhone 4. The key difference is the network.

AT&T uses a GSM (Global System for Mobile) network and Verizon uses a CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) network. This is ignorable geek speak except for one fact: you will not be able to browse the web while you are engaged in a voice telephone call on a Verizon iPhone 4.

Because these phones are substantially identical, you may be tempted to immediately switch from AT&T to Verizon. After all, advertising and propaganda aside, the Verizon Network is known to be the best, most far-reaching mobile network and it rarely drops calls.

But, here’s what you need to consider:

1) AT&T is not letting you out of your contract without an early termination fee. AT&T’s wireless customer agreement says the fee is $325 minus $10 for each month of service paid for. The AT&T iPhone 4 came out at the end of June 2010, so do the math.

2) The aftermarket for your existing AT&T iPhone is going to be non-existent, so you will also be eating the cost of your $200-$300 iPhone 4.

3) Your Verizon iPhone 4 is going to set you back $200-$300 depending upon which one you select.

4) You must make a two-year commitment to Verizon — and this is the big one – REMEMBER — the Verizon iPhone 4 is a3G, EVDO, CDMA device. This means that is will work on the existing Verizon 3G network, but it is not 4G compatible.

Verizon has been busy shouting as loud as it can about LTE (Long Term Evolution), its new 4G network. It will not be long before Verizon starts to offer 4G mobile devices, like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 4G, Motorola’s Xoom, any number of Android smartphones and a ton of other 4G LTE stuff.

Which begs for the question: With 4G around the corner, why would you commit to a two-year contract in February 2011 for a 3G device? It makes no sense at all.

If Apple continues its MO of one new iPhone per year, you can expect the iPhone 5 to debut this spring/summer. Will it be a 4G LTE compatible device? I hope so. If it isn’t, it will have no chance competing with the Samsung, HTC, Moto and other 4G LTE devices that will be everywhere by then.

When you look at the cost of switching, the cost of the commitment to 3G and the sunk cost of purchasing two iPhones that are obsolete, switching is not a great idea and signing up for a new Verizon iPhone 4 is, well … dumb.

For those of you who are still not convinced that you should sit this one out, here are a few facts you need to know:

1) A Verizon version of Apple’s iPhone 4 will be available for pre-order on February 3, 2011

3) The Verizon iPhone will act as a five device mobile hotspot. It’s like having a MiFi 2200 WiFi hotspot built into your phone. Awesome feature!

4) Pricing. The 16GB model is expected to cost $200, the 32GB model is expected to cost $300 (Both require a 2-year contract).

5) You cannot take your AT&T iPhone, walk into Verizon and ask them to switch it over, you must purchase a new Verizon iPhone.

6) If you switch, all of your apps will still work. Apps are a function of the iPhone and have nothing to do with the network. If you cancel your AT&T iPhone and purchase a new Verizon iPhone, iTunes will just restore your apps to your new Verizon iPhone. Shelly Palmer




Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is Managing Director, Digital Media Group at Landmark Ventures/ShellyPalmer a technology focused Investment Banking & Advisory practice specializing in M&A, Financings, Strategic Partnerships and Innovation Access. He is Fox 5 New York's On-air Tech Expert and well known for his work on Fox Television's Shelly Palmer Digital Living as well as his daily radio report on United Stations Radio Networks. For more information, visit


  1. Doug says:

    Of course, few of these facts matter to those of us who have been waiting to get our first iPhone (because we wanted reliable service). A lot of pent-up demand out here, regardless of the naysaying among unhappy present-day users.

  2. Dandapani says:

    But in the end, you still have an iPhone, plus or minus. That’s why I have an HTC Droid on Verizon. I have the flexibility of Android, the ubiquity of Verizon, and the lower cost of 3G data rather than high cost of LTE/4G which Verizon plans on sticking it to their 4G data intensive customers.

    No, I don’t eat at the Apple trough.

  3. mike crosby says:

    I wish my wife would wait for the next generation iPhone from Verizon. But she’s determined. She is really excited and when the next generation phone does come out, she’s buying that too.

    Her phone is her life. She’s been keeping her Blackberry taped together waiting for this moment. Just like Verizon’s new commercial.

  4. Jay says:

    4G? Like every carrier will suddenly have a magical nationwide 4G network. There are good reasons NOT to get a Verizom iPhone or to wait for v5, but that ain’t one of them.

  5. Parad E. Makewater says:

    I’ve been an AT&T customer for many years and gaze in wide-eyed wonder at the bombs thrown at AT&T for supposedly bad service, dropped calls, etc. Having lived and traveled all over the country during my time with AT&T I’ve only experienced one problem with dropped calls, that was from a tower damaged by a utility truck, and that was quickly fixed. I laughed at my parents and siblings who had other carriers but couldn’t get reception at my parents house, yet my supposedly inferior AT&T carrier provided a rock solid signal. Even indoors! Mom has since switched to AT&T and is finally happy with these new fangled cell phones!

    I’m willing to change carriers, my contract expires in March, yet no one can really provide me with any evidence that other carriers are substantially better than AT&T. Other than the sour grapes “AT&T sux!” apparently because their carrier wasn’t savvy enough to sign on with Apple when they came out with the Iphone. I know, I know, there are supposed unbiased reviews and polls about cell service that shows that, yup, without a doubt, no question, AT&T sux big ones. But my (and friends) personal experience shows otherwise.

  6. O.R. says:

    Thanks for a very informative column, Mr. Palmer. I can think of one additional reason for an exiting iPhone user to rush into the arms of Verizon immediately; it would be good to see if all those bandwidth-hungry iPhones will cause the same problems to the Verizon network as they do to ATT&T’s.

    I have to pull out my red pencil on one thing you wrote: “Which begs for the question….” Ah, no. To “beg the question” is to make a certain kind of logical fallacy in an argument; essentially, a circular argument. To “beg FOR the question” means nothing at all. The phrase you’re looking for is just good ol’ fashioned “raises the question”.

  7. Alex says:

    Great article. The issue about the new iPhone not being compatible with 4G is suprising and I don’t think most people were aware or even understand too look for that.

    For what it’s worth, for many AT&T users, myself included, the network experience was so terrible that switching to Verizon despite the issues may still be worth it. I gave up on iPhone all together because the AT&T network issues and switched to an Evo on Sprint– and I feel like a 3G iPhone to Verizon would be a more palatable switch for most people.

    Thanks for the break down Shelly.

  8. Allen says:

    All the critics out there are telling consumers not to bother with Verizon’s iPhone 4.

    Tech bloggers already have smartphones and are already tied to contracts, so for some reason they seem to believe everyone else is to. There are plenty of people out there who aren’t tied to contracts and want new phones now and not wait 6 months for the new iPhone that ISN’T EVEN GUARANTEED TO COME OUT. What could this new iPhone possibly have other than 4G compatibility that would blow the iPhone 4 out of the water?

    My views are different. I have a dumbphone and the screen just died. I’m not on a contract. I’ve been lusting after and iPhone for years, but never had the money to purchase one until recently.

    Why should I wait 5 months for a phone that MIGHT come out and is only going to be marginally better? I’m not going to be streaming porn to 5 computers, so I don’t exactly need 4G. I don’t care about a slight camera improvement. Tell me, what is going to be so special about the 4G that we all need to stop buying phones for the next half year?

    In short: unless you demand the absolute top of the line product the moment in comes out, why wait on something that is uncertain and isn’t going to be a groundbreaking new phone?

    • Brandon N says:

      ok i am already a verizon wireless customer, so i dont have to switch services or anything. My girlfriend wants to buy the Verizon Iphone4, and she wont get herself one without getting me one also. That way i shouldnt have any reason to bitch at her (i can still always find something…lol) BUt my Dielma lies here, i think it is stupid for her to go buy them because we r both already in are contract so she is buying them at full retail price. Which with the new Iphone5 comin here in like June its not really the greatest idea, i dont think. So i guess what i need is someone to kinda put my mind to ease and say that the Iphone 4 is not a horrible idea, because she wants to do it this weekend and will not wait another week let alone 3 plus months. Unless i can get some just damnig news which i can use as proof/evidence to stop her from making a mistake…….thanks

      • Diane says:

        If she/you wants the instant gratification of getting a Verizon iPhone now but worry that the iPhone 5, whenever it actually hits the shelves might be irresistible, you could do what I just did. I bought an iPhone 4, brand new, on Ebay for $480.00, and plan to sell it when the iPhone 5 is released, then use my free upgrade with Verizon to sign a new 2-yr. contract this summer/fall. I’ll lose a little $$ selling after the new version comes out, but the Craigslist and eBay iPhone market is surprisingly strong, even for older models, as long as they’re in new condition. If you go that route, make sure to clear the MEID with Verizon before buying, and keep the temporary phone and all its packaging in pristine condition.

  9. wayne ritzman says:

    1) A Verizon version of Apple’s iPhone 4 will be available for pre-order on February 3, 2010

    do you mean 2011?

  10. Carol says:

    I really don’t care what this alleged ‘guru’ calls me. I want an iPhone, been wanting one for several years, use my iTouch more than myphone and want the features of the iTouch AND my phone in one package, so call me dumb for being able to afford an iPhone, I really don’t care, but you shouldn’t be so dismissive and condescending to those that have been waiting for verizon to release it. Do I care it’s a 3G compatible phone? NO. It will be bought and paid for, and when and if the iPhone 5 is released, you can bet your smart a$$ blog I’ll be getting one. Why? Because I can. So call it unnecessary or dumb if you want, but this consumer knows what she wants, and you’ll just have to have some sour grapes on the sidelines. Go pout with your Android phone and leave us iPhone users alone already.

  11. Chris says:

    There is little to no chance that iPhone 5 will come out for Verizon with LTE just 4 months after the initial release of the iPhone on Verizon. If an LTE Verizon iPhone was doable by June/July, it would be in the best interest of both Apple and Verizon to wait until then to launch.

    For Apple, they would have to spend so much money to develop an iPhone 4 with a CDMA antenna only to render it obsolete in 4 months. That’s a device with a useful life less than it’s development time.

    For Verizon, a June/July release with LTE (4g) causes even more buzz (I know, hard to believe), and entices even more ATT subscribers to switch.


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