The Verizon iPhone: What the Web Is Saying

The Verizon iPhone (s vz) has finally arrived, after much hype and years of rumors and speculation; we even included it in our roundup of 10 geek dreams that might never come true last year. So is it everything that iPhone (s aapl) users were hoping for? Not quite. Like anything that gets built up to that extent, there has been some grumbling about the device and its capabilities. In addition to our stories, including an overview of the news from Ryan, some advice from Darrell and a hands-on video from Ryan and Kevin, here’s what others are saying about the phone.

Engadget has a breakdown of the exact differences between the AT&T (s t) version of the phone and the new Verizon version, including the plans available from both carriers and what they offer. The gadget blog also notes that eagle-eyed observers will see some differences in the external antenna and casing, as a result of the Verizon phone using a different cellular network. In case you’re wondering, SlashGear says that other changes to button layouts as a result of this mean bumpers for the AT&T phone won’t fit the Verizon version.

Boy Genius Report, meanwhile, has a look at the downsides of the Verizon phone, noting it’s slow compared to phones on other networks — primarily because it uses CDMA instead of the GSM network — and that it doesn’t allow users to talk on the phone and use data at the same time (another consequence of using CDMA, something AT&T mentioned in a response to the launch). Zach Epstein at BGR said that switching from LTE to a CDMA network “would be like switching from broadband to dial-up.”

Fortune says point-blank that the Verizon phone “is not the dream phone” that everyone was hoping for:

Unfortunately, what the mobile carrier revealed was not exactly the dream phone some subscribers had hoped for. Sure, Verizon got the iPhone 4, and no doubt users will benefit from the carrier’s arguably better reception, but there were also some unexpected strings attached.

Even before the launch, many were playing down the Verizon phone, including Sascha Segan at PCMag, who said it “isn’t the mobile Messiah”:

Come on, people. The iPhone is great, to be sure, but there are other great smartphones out there as well. They just don’t have the personalities, the drama, or the cachet. Who can name the CEO of Samsung? At the end of the day, what the iPhone has that other platforms lack is the emotional connection.

So why is there no LTE version? Apple executive Tim Cook said the new chipsets for the LTE network required “some design compromises — some of which we would not make,” which got TechCrunch speculating:

“Design compromises” could mean a lot of things. Part of what he likely means is that LTE chipsets require more battery consumption (something which has been seen in the 4G Android devices). Another part is that an LTE version of the iPhone would likely have to be a bit bigger because radio engineers haven’t yet learned how to squeeze every ounce of real estate into these newer chip designs.

But it’s not all bad. Much of the coverage, including a post at All Things Digital, noted the one bright spot: The new Verizon phone will function as a mobile “hot spot” and allow users to connect up to five devices wirelessly:

The biggest deal so far is that it can act as a mobile hotspot, allowing several PCs or devices to share its wireless connection. It can connect up to five devices. Verizon said it won’t reveal service pricing for the iPhone or how much the hotspot service will add, if indeed there is an additional charge.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg notes that subsidizing the iPhone could cost Verizon between $3 billion and $5 billion in the first year it offers the device, according to an analyst:

John Hodulik, an analyst from UBS, estimates that Verizon could sell up to 13 million iPhones this year, and he believes that the carrier will attach a $400 subsidy to each device. “You basically write customers a $400 check,” said New York-based Hodulik, who rates parent Verizon Communications Inc.’s shares neutral and doesn’t own them. “We expect margins to be down pretty meaningfully in the first quarter and second quarter.”

ZDNet also has a post that engages in some “upgrade calculus” in order to determine whether to upgrade or not (there’s also a Wolfram Alpha widget that will help you calculate whether to cancel your AT&T contract), and the Huffington Post had a collection of Twitter reactions to the news, including one from Andy Tarnoff that said “So far, the Verizon iPhone looks and acts just like AT&T’s. A bit of a letdown, but not a huge surprise,” and another from a developer named Rich Orris who warned Verizon users to be careful what they wish for.

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