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Verizon snags the iPhone

In a highly anticipated move, Verizon confirmed during a Tuesday press conference that the iPhone would be available on its mobile network beginning Feb. 10. The news ended years of Internet speculation on whether the nation’s largest mobile network would carry Apple’s popular cell phone, while instantly creating buzz about the fate of AT&T and competing Android smartphones.

The announcement comes on the heels of Verizon’s rollout of its 4G LTE network, which offers mobile Internet browsing near the speed of a home Internet connection. While Verizon’s first iPhone will only support 3G capabilities, Apple seems eager to incorporate the new network in later generations of the phone.

The Verizon iPhone will have the ability to be used as a five-user WiFi hotspot for the first time, but does not support simultaneous voice and data as on the AT&T network, according to Engadget.com. The rest of the phone remains seemingly unchanged, except for a new antenna that was redesigned after the release of the first iPhone 4 on AT&T’S network garnered widespread complaints of poor call quality.

While the hardware is virtually the same, the most noticeable differences may come from the service on the two networks. It is not uncommon among current iPhone users to bemoan AT&T’s service. Up until now, AT&T had a contract with Apple to be the exclusive carrier of the iPhone.

Whether iPhone users will fare better on Verizon remains to be seen. A sudden influx of new users attracted to Verizon by the iPhone 4 will undoubtedly leave an impression on network speed and call quality, a problem that AT&T has often wrestled with since it started carrying the mobile sensation.

But while Verizon’s iPhone may ultimately have better performance than AT&T’s, there are many other factors that will determine if this puts a nail in the coffin of Verizon and Apple competitors, mainly the impressive line of Android-based smartphones already offered by each of the major mobile networks.

“It’s way too early to write AT&T’s iPhone eulogy,” said senior cell phone review editor Kent German on the tech blog CNET.com.

Starting Feb. 3, current Verizon customers can preorder the iPhone 4 CDMA 16GB model for $200 or the 32GB version for $300, both with a two-year service agreement, according to the Verizon website.