So I have some thoughts about the new CDMA iPhone (compatible with Verizon’s network) released today that folks have been frothing about. Everybody knew that the AT&T exclusivity deal with Apple was ending this year, so it’s inevitable that other carriers — particularly Verizon, would eventually end up with an iPhone to sell to their customers.
The issue with Verizon, however, is that their CDMA network is incompatible with the electronics hardware in the iPhone for AT&T. This means that making an iPhone available to Verizon customers was never just a matter of flipping a switch somewhere, or installing some code in firmware. New electronics had to be designed to be integrated with and fit into the quite constraining iPhone form factor, and of course tested and approved by various regulatory officials.
CDMA, however, is on its way out the door. Verizon, AT&T, and other carriers, are already rolling out so-called 4G networks that will be wholly incompatible with already-odd-duck CDMA (the network, for example, lacks the ability to transmit voice and data at the same time — no web surfing while talking).
My question is then, is it really worth it for Verizon (or Apple for that matter) to go through the effort and expense of designing and rolling out this new phone on an old, deprecated network? Apple COO Tim Cook reportedly said that building it as a 4G LTE phone would “force some design compromises” and “customers have told us they want the iPhone now.” So for those still on Verizon’s network, wanting an iPhone, but unwilling/unable to switch to AT&T, my advice would still be to wait. I’d hope that this little side detour into CDMA 3G-land doesn’t delay the eventual release of a 4G LTE iPhone for both AT&T and Verizon in the near future.