10 Things Consumers Should Do to Prepare for the Verizon iPhone

News Analysis: Speculation abounds about the eventual release of a Verizon iPhone. With reports claiming production is already under way for a fourth-quarter release, it's time for prospective smartphone buyers to think about the potential opportunity presented by the availability of an Apple iPhone on Verizon's network.

Once again, rumors are swirling that a Verizon iPhone is being produced and will be released later in 2010. Conspicuously missing from Steve Jobs' Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, an Apple iPhone for the Verizon Wireless network was one of the products that many consumers had been hoping for.

It's understandable. Unlike most countries around the world, the United States is home to just one carrier that offers the iPhone. And as Apple prepares for the release of the iPhone 4, the company has so far been tight-lipped about the possibility of a Verizon iPhone ever coming to store shelves.

But more prudent observers know that eventually a Verizon iPhone will be coming to the United States. Not only will such a product appeal to those who have been waiting for it (for too long), it will also help Apple attract more customers.

Luckily, the wait might soon be over. And now it's time to think about some of the things consumers should be doing to prepare for the eventual release of the Verizon iPhone. Here are some things that consumers should keep in mind.

1. Don't renew

The last thing a Verizon customer who wants to buy an iPhone should do is renew his or her contract. The problem with mobile contracts today is that they lock customers into two-year deals. And as those who aren't lucky enough to be within AT&T's six-month upgrade window know, getting an iPhone when not eligible for two-year-contract pricing can be expensive. That's why current Verizon customers need to stick with the devices they have now. Yes, a device might be old and the HTC Droid Incredible looks nice, but if customers upgrade now, the iPhone will be too expensive when it hits store shelves.

2. Hold off on becoming a Verizon customer

Those looking to become a Verizon customer so they can get their hands on a Verizon iPhone might want to follow a similar strategy. Becoming a customer now would lock users into a two-year contract with a phone that they don't want. And again, if they want to upgrade to an iPhone later in the year, it will cost a pretty penny to do so. For now, the best move is to stick with their current carriers. And then, if and when Apple announces that a Verizon iPhone is coming, consumers can move to Verizon's service at that point. Moving to Verizon now would be a major mistake.

3. Think twice about AT&T's iPhone 4

In order to get the iPhone 4 from AT&T, customers need to agree to a new two-year contract with the carrier. That's not a good thing for folks who are still waiting for a Verizon iPhone. Customers who have gotten locked into an AT&T contract will have a difficult time justifying leaving that contract for Verizon. Not only would it cost them hundreds of dollars to get out of the contract, it would also require them to buy another iPhone, since the AT&T version won't work with Verizon's technology. The iPhone 4 might be the product customers want, but if they plan on moving to Verizon in the next year, they should keep away.

4. Check out service maps

Before deciding on the Verizon iPhone or AT&T's model, customers should first consult service maps. Earlier in 2010, Verizon and AT&T had a public spat over which company offered the best 3G coverage. But the real judge is the user. For individual customers, the best service is provided by the company that offers the best coverage around their home or office. If AT&T's 3G doesn't work in their locality, but Verizon's does, maybe they should wait for a CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access)-based iPhone. But if AT&T has better coverage in the area, it might be best to grab an iPhone 4 at launch on June 24.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...