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Verizon iPhone to go on sale in early February, company announces

By Rob Pegoraro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 11, 2011; 3:15 PM

NEW YORK - Smartphone users waiting for a Verizon version of the iPhone will finally be able to buy one early next month, company president Lowell McAdam announced during a press event Tuesday morning.

Verizon customers will be able to pre-order Apple's iPhone 4 on Feb. 3, new customers on Feb. 10, for $199 for a 16-gigabyte version, $299 for the 32 GB model. The phone will include a "personal hotspot" feature allowing connection to five devices.

"We have enormous respect for the company this team has built and the hard-won loyalty they've won from their customers," said Apple chief operating officer Tim Cook, who joined McAdam onstage at Lincoln Center. "This is just the beginning of a great relationship between Apple and Verizon."

Verizon will be among only two providers of the popular iPhone, breaking into the market held solely by AT&T, which had an exclusive deal with Apple since the first iPhone was introduced five years ago. Cook said the deal with Verizon was nonexclusive.

The Verizon version will be a CDMA/EVDO model, which does not support 4G or allow simultaneous voice and data calls, as with other CDMA phones.

Asked why Apple will not be offering an LTE model, Cook said that first-generation 4G chips "force some design compromises that we wouldn't make." He added that Verizon customers were eager to have an iPhone version soon.

McAdam did not mention service plans for the model. But later on Tuesday, company spokeswoman Brenda Rainey strongly promoted the advantages of Verizon Wireless's $29.99/unlimited plan for smartphones, adding to speculation that the iPhone will follow suit.

The news marks the end of AT&T's exclusive contract to carry the Apple smartphone and has sparked back-and-forth jabs between the two companies.

AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel downplayed the deal and faulted Verizon for not enabling customers to make calls while using apps.

"For iPhone users who want the fastest speeds, the ability to talk and use apps at the same time, and unsurpassed global coverage, the only choice is AT&T," Siegal said.

AT&T also said that CDMA does not allow for phone calling in most of Europe and Asia and uses more cellphone battery juice than AT&T's GSM technology.

Verizon Wireless spokesman Jeffrey Nelson, however, pointed to the competitor's two-year struggle to have its network keep up with iPhone users' high usage.

"The AT&T network can't handle AT&T calls," he said. "AT&T iPhone customers should come on over. We have built a network that will ensure their calls go through. What a nice change for iPhone lovers."

Verizon customers have long complained about the company's lack of an iPhone option. Excitement over rumors and reports of an Apple-Verizon partnership soared last week when Verizon sent out press invitations for Tuesday's event.

Onstage just before the announcement Tuesday, McAdam welcomed the press, saying, "It looks that you all are expecting a big announcement today." He then poked fun at competitors for rebranding upgraded 3G services as 4G (a reference to AT&T and T-Mobile), joking that Verizon considered calling its new 4G LTE network "6G."

Cook said the iPhone "has completely changed the expectation of what you carry in your pocket" and that "all of Apple is incredibly excited" to bring it to Verizon.

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