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Consumer Reports Cautions Against Verizon iPhone 4

The smartphone has too many shortcomings and users are better off waiting until Apple releases the next generation model later this year, according to the venerable consumer magazine.

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Consumer Reports is advising people to hold off buying the iPhone 4 from Verizon Wireless next month, saying the device they'll be getting is a middle-aged smartphone that Apple will likely replace in the summer with a new generation.

The well-respected nonprofit magazine says that in the die-young world of smartphones, the iPhone 4 is already less than the cutting edge. Examples cited include its inability to run on fourth-generation data networks, including Verizon's; and its 3.5-inch screen in an era where a number of smartphones are shipping with 4-inch-plus displays.

Verizon announced this week that it would offer the iPhone 4 to existing customers Feb. 3 and to new customers a week later. That's only a few months before Apple typically releases the next generation of the smartphone, usually in June or July. "This is a transitional phone to tide Verizon through until the summer," Consumer Reports said Tuesday in its Electronics Blog.

The magazine's concerns are worth noting, because buying an iPhone at a carrier's discounted price starting at $199 requires signing a two-year service contract. Breaking the pact by trading in the phone early carries hefty penalties.

Consumer Reports notes that Verizon's customer satisfaction ratings are much higher than AT&T's, while also pointing out shortcomings in Verizon's network. Verizon's CDMA network doesn't allow someone to make a phone call while accessing the Web at the same time. In addition, AT&T's GSM phones can roam with relative ease in much of the world, while CDMA phones can't.

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