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.
Patience Pays When Buying an iPhone
5. Maintain unlimited data plans
Current Verizon customers will want to keep their unlimited data plans as long as they can. Verizon, unlike AT&T, doesn’t yet insist on data caps. But it’s not a stretch to presume the company is watching AT&T’s strategy. If it’s successful, Verizon might soon be forcing new customers into capped data plans. But current Verizon customers with unlimited plans will probably have the option of switching. Unlimited data is ideal for iPhone customers. And if Verizon gives them the chance to keep those plans, customers should seize it.
6. Be ready for preorders
As Apple’s and AT&T’s preorder problems have shown, trying to reserve an iPhone 4 is going to be extremely difficult. Realizing that, those who want a Verizon iPhone should be ready on their computers the very second preorders start. Luckily, Apple provides ample time between the announcement date and when preorders begin, so consumers can prepare. Preordering could mean the difference between getting the iPhone on launch day and being forced to wait until the next shipment is in. If consumers are serious about getting a Verizon iPhone, they need to be ready to preorder.
7. Ditch the Android idea
HTC’s Droid Incredible might look like an ideal device for those who want to wait for the Verizon iPhone, but getting it now would be a major mistake. As nice as the phone is, it doesn’t compare to the iPhone 4. And if consumers get the Droid Incredible today, they will be locked into it for two years. The Droid Incredible just isn’t the iPhone and it will likely never be comparable. Consolation prizes don’t help customers get the phone they really desire. And they need to remember that.
8. Read up on AT&T’s iPhone policies
Verizon customers should know AT&T’s iPhone policies inside and out. Carriers have a tendency to engage in some practices that make customers cringe. And although Apple has done a good job of keeping AT&T within bounds, the company might not have the same success with Verizon. Realizing that, it’s important for customers to know what they can and can’t do (tethering for free, for example) with AT&T’s iPhone. Those same policies might be enforced on Verizon’s plans, but there is a chance that they won’t. Knowing exactly what will happen with an AT&T or a Verizon iPhone makes for a more informed, happier customer.
9. Don’t buy an iPad
Before Apple’s tablet was announced, several reports suggested that the iPad would run on Verizon’s 3G network. Since then, all that talk has gone away. But if Apple finally announces that it has ditched its exclusivity agreement with AT&T and partnered with Verizon, it’s entirely possible that an iPad running on Verizon’s network will also come along. If that happens, Verizon customers will be happy that they waited to hear all the details before jumping for an AT&T iPad 3G and being forced to pay not one, but two carriers. Believe it or not, there are fringe benefits to a Verizon iPhone. And the iPad is one of them.
10. Wait for Apple to show its hand
No decisions should be made about buying a Verizon iPhone until Apple reveals all the details. It’s impossible to know now if Apple will offer the same iPhone 4 to Verizon customers. Depending on the arrangement Apple has with AT&T and Verizon, it’s possible that one of the devices will be hobbled compared with the other. Plus, if Apple has software agreements with companies in place, one version might be running a more capable version of iOS than the other. At this point, no one knows a single detail about a Verizon iPhone for certain, including whether it will ever exist. So, choosing one or the other now just doesn’t make sense. When it comes to Apple, patience is everything.