Or is it?
This morning as anticipated for the past 3 years, Verizon (USA) announced the availability of the iPhone 4 on their network. They will begin pre-ordering for existing Verizon customers on February 3rd and the phones are available for pickup on February 10th.
There are only three differences between the iPhone 4 (CDMA) announced by Verizon (a mobile carrier in the US) and the previous model of iPhone 4 (GSM)
- Supports CDMA EV-DO Rev. A (800, 1900 MHz).
- Mobile hotspot capability like the MiFi.
- A change in the slit at the top of the GSM iPhone 4 has been move to a slits on the left side.
These features (“changes”) really have no benefits to anyone living outside of the USA and non-subscribers to Verizon (US). CDMA phones are locked to the carrier they are designed for unless they use a R-UIM card inside.
As for the mobile hotspot capability, it is questionable whether this will be a practical advantage. Since Verizon CDMA does not allow simultaneous data and voice access. So if the iPhone is in mobile hotspot mode, it will not be able to take or make a voice call over the Verizon network without dropping the mobile hotspot for all connected devices. Unless this voice call is made through one of the IP based voice services (ie. Skype, etc.). The rumor is that the mobile hotspot function may become a built in feature for all iPhones with the pending iOS 4.3. This feature will work much better on a GSM network, since simultaneous voice and data is capable on GSM networks, but the feature will require mobile carriers to release it to iPhone users.
The change in the top slit position means that the Hold button has shifted down from position on the GSM version of the iPhone 4, meaning most existing cases for the iPhone 4 (GSM) will not fit the iPhone 4 (CDMA).
So if you live in the US, is an unhappy iPhone user with AT&T service and wants to change to the Verizon network, or if you had resisted in purchasing an iPhone because you do not like AT&T, you may want to wait another six months. This is because there will most likely be an iPhone 5 in June 2011 and it is very likely will be available for both Verizon and AT&T networks. It will also very likely will be a LTE capable iPhone.
For the former group there is really no benefits in switching to Verizon unless you have a really bad receptions on the AT&T network, but should still wait to find out if iPhone 4 users on the Verizon network in your area get better reception.
As for the latter group, since you had waited over 4 years for an iPhone you can wait another six month to see what the iPhone 5 will bring and whether the Verizon network will suffer the same congestions as AT&T.
So will this be the first and only CDMA version of the iPhone? Will Apple create CDMA versions of the iPhone for other carriers? Verizon is currently the larges CDMA EV-DO Rev A provider, but China mobile may take the title from Verizon as the largest CDMA EV-DO Rev B provider, when Verizon ramps up its own LTE deployment to cover all its existing coverage areas in the US.