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Verizon iPhone 4 Superficially Similar, Internally Different from AT&T’s

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Verizon’s CDMA Apple-made iPhone 4 may look nearly identical to its GSM cousin on AT&T and other carriers across the world, but the internal design and innards may be different from its globe-trotting counterpart on GSM/UMTS/EDGE/HSPA networks.

For one, it’s curious that Apple used a global chipset from Qualcomm in the CDMA iPhone, similar to that of the world-phone enabled Droid Pro from Motorola. However, unlike Motorola, it seems that Apple did not enable the world-phone capabilities. As there isn’t a SIM card slot, the CDMA iPhone 4 is tied to Verizon’s network despite the fact that the Qualcomm chip would, at least from a hardware perspective, allow the phone to hop to a GSM network. For now, Apple’s focused attention on CDMA leaves room for a world-phone iPhone 5 or a refreshed iPhone 4 down the road with global roaming capabilities. The move to release a world-phone variant a few short months after a CDMA-only variant is released would mirror Motorola’s strategy with the Droid 2 launch–with Verizon, Motorola had debuted the CDMA-only Droid 2, followed by a special Star Wars R2D2 Droid 2, followed by a world-phone Droid 2 supporting CDMA and GSM networks. It’s unclear what Verizon’s and Apple’s intentions are with a world-phone iPhone. With Verizon aggressively building out its LTE network, a 4G LTE iPhone 5 next year may be a high possibility as LTE delivers blazing fast download and upload speeds.

The Qualcomm chipset inside the CDMA iPhone 4 would support Verizon’s CDMA/EV-DO Rev. A network in the U.S. and could potentially offer support for quad-band GSM/EDGE networks along with tri-band UMTS/HSPA support, like on the Droid 2 and Droid Pro.

Because of the Qualcomm chipset which could support both GSM and CDMA 3G world frequencies, the next iPhone, if it is released as a world phone, may only come in one design and variant, which could be software locked to either network. Moreover, a wold-phone iPhone would give Verizon’s iPhone owners the ability to roam globally, a feature that AT&T users have enjoyed.

Another difference, according to iFixit, which did a tear down, is that the Verizon phone has a modified vibrator inside the phone:

Apple has removed the counterweighted vibrator motor in the corner of the phone and switched to a different vibrator design that’s now placed near the battery connector.

Also, because the Verizon iPhone 4 has a modified stainless steel band, which has an extra cut, that serves as dual-purpose as an antenna, the fitting for the back glass panel is different and therefore the back panel between the AT&T iPhone 4 and the Verizon variant are not interchangeable.

The Verizon iPhone 4, because it is not a world phone, does not have a SIM card (micro SIM in the case of the GSM iPhone 4) nor a SIM tray. As a result, Apple says the CDMA iPhone has no user serviceable part(s).

Tech enthusiast in Silicon Valley enjoying the possibilities of ubiquitous connectivity, information sharing, and collaboration enabled by mobile broadband. You can contact Chuong on Twitter @chuongvision or search +chuongvision on Google+.

6 Comments

  1. Cubbyj

    02/08/2011 at 10:36 am

    That’s all we are waiting for is a world phone. My wife and I are both in the Navy. We want to be able to use them while deployed. Love Verizon but need that feature.

    • J Led

      02/08/2011 at 6:53 pm

      Or you could go with something like the Droid Pro, which is newer, faster, has a keyboard, and is already global. Oh, and free online, with free shipping (see http://BuyDroidPhones.com ). And it comes with the open Android OS. And has better security…

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