Fortune magazine has issued perhaps the strongest-worded statement to date on the Verizon iPhone, confirming that the device does exist – and that it will ship in early 2011. In a lengthy cover article published online on Oct. 29, Fortune contributor Sarah Ellison says that the Verizon iPhone is a "fait accompli," and notes that the device has been configured to work on Verizon's CDMA network.
"Unfortunately for globe trotters, the first version of the phone likely won't be built to work outside the US – it probably won't carry a special chip that can turn it into a 'world phone.' However, it may have some of the features on the iPad distributed in Verizon's stores, like live TV for customers of the FiOS cable service," Ellison writes, citing several anonymous sources at Verizon.
Unsubstantiated Verizon iPhone rumors, of course, are nothing new. In fact, in recent weeks, conversation in the tech blogosphere has turned away from whether or not a Verizon iPhone exists (the consensus is that it does) and toward what kind of features a Verizon iPhone will include when it does appear. In October, Martin Peers of the Wall Street Journal penned an article that seemed to suggest that a Verizon iPhone could include a 4G antenna.
"If Verizon starts offering an iPhone usable only on its 3G network, Apple's handset will be at a disadvantage to rival 4G phones," Peers wrote. "What's more, users may find they get slower speeds than they would with the iPhone on AT&Ts network... Congestion on the AT&T network complicates any speed comparison, but AT&T's 3G technology is theoretically faster than Verizon's version of 3G."
Therefore – the thinking goes – Verizon might lobby for the phone to get 4G service. And why not? As we recently reported, Verizon 4G service – which is said to transmit data up to 10 times as fast as a standard 3G connection – will be available in 38 cities and more than 60 airports by the end of the year. Makes sense that a Verizon iPhone would be able to tap into that network.
But don't tell that to AT&T. "We carry half the U.S. wireless data on the fastest 3G network," AT&T spokesman Larry Solomon told Fortune's Ellison. "Verizon's network hasn't been battle-tested yet, so you don't know if they can handle the data load or not."