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Verizon iPhone 4 pre-sales started early this morning and the carrier says it is seeing "unprecedented" demand for Apple's smartphone; early reviews of the device are mostly positive.
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Beginning today at 3 a.m. Eastern time, existing Verizon customers are able to use either the Verizon Wireless Web site or Apple Web site to pre-order the iPhone 4 before it goes on sale to the general public on February 10.
The device costs $199 and $299 for the 16GB and 32GB models, respectively. Verizon Wireless is requiring a minimum voice plan of 450 minutes, which costs $39.99 per month. It is also requiring a mobile Web and Data plan, which costs $30 per month. Messaging features cost extra.
Current Verizon Wireless customers who pre-order the iPhone 4 today will receive it on or before February 10. Apple will allow the general public to pre-order the Verizon iPhone starting February 9. Apple and Verizon Wireless retail stores will open at 7 a.m. on February 10 for the device's launch. People who reserve the device through Apple's reservation system will be able to pick them up on the 10th. Verizon Wireless said that the device will be available on a first-come, first-served basis on the 10th when its stores open.
Verizon has seen such high demand for the device that it has taken several steps to make sure that customers are able to get one. According to a leaked memo published by AppleInsider, Verizon has asked its employees (and their relatives) to wait before buying an iPhone for themselves.
Verizon Wireless Chief Operating Officer John Stratton wrote in an email to its retail managers, "Customers and non-customers alike have waited for years to see this product on America's most reliable wireless network. Demand will be unprecedented. To help ensure we meet customer demand for iPhones, Verizon is urging employees and their families to postpone purchases of the popular smartphone, whether online or in retail stores, for the time being."
"I know customers aren't the only ones who are excited -- employees are, too. While I share your excitement, over the coming weeks we all need to do our part to meet our customers' needs -- this means putting our customers first."
Based on early reviews of the Verizon iPhone 4, there are at least a few reasons to be excited about the device. Tech pundits Walter Mossberg, David Pogue, and Ed Baig all reported similar experiences with the Verizon iPhone: fewer dropped calls.
Mossberg wrote in his review, "I can say that, at least in the areas where I was using it, the Verizon model did much, much better with voice calls. In numerous tries over nine days, I had only three dropped calls on the Verizon unit, and those were all to one person who was using an AT&T iPhone in an especially bad area for AT&T: San Francisco."
One of the central complains voiced by iPhone users since its debut is poor voice connectivity via AT&T's network. The iPhone 4 for Verizon uses different radio technology (CDMA versus GSM) and has revised antenna designs compared to the AT&T version. It appears that the iPhone 4 on Verizon's network will actually work well as a voice phone.
But that comes with a cost.
The other finding reported by all the early reviews is that mobile broadband speeds on the Verizon iPhone 4 are measurably slower than the mobile broadband speeds available to the AT&T iPhone 4.
Tech blog Engadget published a set of speed test comparisons in its review of the device. On average, the AT&T iPhone 4 was capable of download/upload speeds of more than double that of the Verizon iPhone 4.
These findings indicate customers will need to choose between more reliable voice calls on a slower network, or faster data on a less reliable network.
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