There have been so many rumors of a CDMA iPhone headed to Verizon over the past few years that at this point it could be really tough to believe that it may actually be happening.
But the sudden increase, over the past couple of months, in chatter indicating that a Verizon iPhone is imminent, does point to the rumors finally coming to life. Ironically, Apple may have started working on a CDMA iPhone long after the first rumors about the supposed device came to light. In a similar fashion to what happened with the original iPhone and the iPad.
Anyway, today the Wall Street Journal is reporting that “people briefed by Apple” have found out that mass production for a Verizon iPhone shall start before the end of this year. This will allow Verizon to sell the smartphone early next year – during the first quarter.
This iPhone will be similar (if not identical) to the iPhone 4 that is currently an exclusive to AT&T in the United States. The baseband chip for it will be provided by Qualcomm, which was to be expected considering how many CDMA-related patents they hold.
Recently we heard that Apple may use Qualcomm baseband chips in its upcoming GSM version of the iPhone, but that information was not confirmed at this time.
This phone’s release would end the exclusive agreement between Apple and AT&T that has been in effect since the introduction of the first iPhone in 2007. It would also thankfully end the countless rumor-based reports on this issue once and for all.
According to “people briefed on the matter”, Apple has also already begun work on their next-generation iPhone. One person familiar with the new iPhone plan said that it will be a different form-factor than the previous iPhones. How soon that fifth-gen iPhone will be available to Verizon is unclear at this point.
The most interesting tidbit here (aside from the end-of-year manufacturing start being confirmed again) is the “different form-factor” that the iPhone 5 would have. Did Apple finally cave after years of requests and added a physical QWERTY keyboard? Somehow, because of Steve Jobs’ aversion to buttons, I find that hard to believe, but we’ll see.
Big change is needed for the next-gen iPhone if Apple would like their market share to resume growth. Launching on Verizon would also help with that, of course.
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