The Apple iPhone 4 on Verizon Wireless is here – what it means for travelers

Well, it finally happened – the largest mobile carrier in the United States is getting the Apple iPhone. Ever since the original iPhone was announced back in 2007, gadget sites have been speculating about a magical “can you hear me now” version of the phone.

But now it is here – the news isn’t really as spectacular as it could have been. A mere week after companies like Samsung, HTC and Motorola announced 4G versions of their handsets, the Verizon iPhone brings little new to the table. On the inside, it is exactly the same as the AT&T iPhone, albeit with a different radio system (for the Verizon CDMA network).

And that CDMA network is a major problem for people who plan to travel with their Verizon iPhone 4 abroad. With the AT&T (GSM) version of the iPhone, you can take it to Europe, Asia and most other countries and get access to a GSM network. CDMA users have never been that lucky – the list of CDMA countries is tiny when compared with GSM (44 CDMA networks compared to 255 GSM networks).

In other words – take your new Verizon iPhone 4 to Canada or Mexico, and it’ll work just fine. But take it to France or Australia, and you’ll only be able to use it when you find a Wi-Fi hotspot. Of course, with roaming rates as expensive as $5/min, sticking to Wi-Fi isn’t that bad a plan.

And unlike some of the newer Android devices on Verizon, their iPhone does not do dual mode CDMA/GSM. This limitation is of course not that important if your travels don’t take you outside the limited CDMA lineup, but if you are regularly in Europe, you may want to think twice about this investment. And finally, because this new iPhone uses CDMA, you will not be able to do simultaneous voice and data connections.

Verizon Wireless launching 4G broadband in 38 cities and 60 airports

Forget 3G – that technology is so 2005. The new buzzword is clearly 4G. And while Verizon is by no means the first to be able to claim being first with 4G, their plans are mighty impressive. The Verizon 4G technology is based off a system called LTE – which is on track to becoming a worldwide standard for 4G.

4G will deliver speeds between 5 and 12 Mbps – around 4-7 times faster than current 3G speeds. The first Verizon LTE markets will launch before the end of 2010, and most major cities in the nation are on target to getting their share of coverage.

But better yet – Verizon clearly understands the needs of travelers, because in addition to the 36 metro areas, they’ll also be launching their coverage at 60 airports. The full list of cities and airports can be found after the jump. Nationwide coverage is expected to be complete by 2013 – a very ambitious target.

There is of course some bad news – none of the handsets, modems or smartphones on the market at the moment support LTE – so expect to drop some more cash on a new piece of equipment. Also, given the massive investments required for these networks, don’t be surprised if you are asked to pay a surcharge for all that extra speed. Still, if the promise of these speeds is even partially made true, we are in for some really productive times while we sit at the airport streaming Family Guy off Hulu.

To learn more about LTE and the technology behind this new network, head on over to the Verizon LTE information center.
Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Initial Major Metropolitan Area Deployment

  • Akron, Ohio
  • Athens, Georgia
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Dallas, Texas
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Houston, Texas
  • Jacksonville, Florida
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Miami, Florida
  • Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • New York, New York
  • Oakland, California
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Orlando, Florida
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Rochester, New York
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • San Diego, California
  • San Francisco, California
  • San Jose, California
  • Seattle/Tacoma, Washington
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • Tampa, Florida
  • Washington, D.C.
  • West Lafayette, Indiana
  • West Palm Beach, Florida
  • Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Initial Commercial Airport Deployment (Airport Name, City, State)
  • Austin-Bergstrom International, Austin, Texas
  • Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshal, Glen Burnie, Maryland
  • Bob Hope, Burbank, California
  • Boeing Field/King County International, Seattle, Washington
  • Charlotte/Douglas International, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Chicago Midway International, Chicago, Illinois
  • Chicago O’Hare International, Chicago, Illinois
  • Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International, Covington, Kentucky
  • Cleveland-Hopkins International, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Dallas Love Field, Dallas, Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International, Fort Worth, Texas
  • Denver International, Denver, Colorado
  • Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • George Bush Intercontinental/Houston, Houston, Texas
  • Greater Rochester International, Rochester, New York
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Honolulu International, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Jacksonville International, Jacksonville, Florida
  • John F. Kennedy International, New York, New York
  • John Wayne Airport-Orange County, Santa Ana, California
  • Kansas City International, Kansas City, Missouri
  • La Guardia, New York, New York
  • Lambert-St. Louis International, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Laurence G. Hanscom Field, Bedford, Massachusetts
  • Long Beach/Daugherty Field, Long Beach, California
  • Los Angeles International, Los Angeles, California
  • Louis Armstrong New Orleans International, Metairie, Louisiana
  • McCarran International, Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Memphis International, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Metropolitan Oakland International, Oakland, California
  • Miami International, Miami, Florida
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul International/Wold-Chamberlain, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Nashville International, Nashville, Tennessee
  • New Castle, Wilmington, North Carolina
  • Newark Liberty International, Newark, New Jersey
  • Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International, San Jose, California
  • North Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Orlando International, Orlando, Florida
  • Orlando Sanford International, Sanford, Florida
  • Palm Beach International, West Palm Beach, Florida
  • Philadelphia International, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Phoenix-Mesa Gateway, Mesa, Arizona
  • Pittsburgh International, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Port Columbus International, Columbus, Ohio
  • Portland International, Portland, Oregon
  • Rickenbacker International, Columbus, Ohio
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National, Arlington, Virginia
  • Sacramento International, Sacramento, California
  • Salt Lake City International, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • San Antonio International, San Antonio, Texas
  • San Diego International, San Diego, California
  • San Francisco International, San Francisco, California
  • Seattle-Tacoma International, Seattle, Washington
  • St. Augustine, Saint Augustine, Florida
  • St. Petersburg-Clearwater International, Clearwater, Florida
  • Tampa International, Tampa, Florida
  • Teterboro, Teterboro, New Jersey
  • Trenton Mercer, Trenton, New Jersey
  • Washington Dulles International, Dulles International Airport, Washington, D.C.
  • Will Rogers World, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • William P. Hobby, Houston, Texas

Blackberry Bold 9650 – global email powerhouse

With all the recent talk of the new iPhone and snazzy new Android devices, you’d be forgiven if you forgot that the U.S. smartphone market is still dominated by RIM and their lineup of Blackberry phones. For many corporate users, the Blackberry still rules, and even though it may lack the sex appeal of the iPhone 4, the newest generation Blackberry devices are still selling like crazy.

In our recent guide on how to pick the best travel smartphone, we mentioned the new Blackberry Bold 9650 as the best option on Verizon Wireless and Sprint. The reason behind this is simple – the Blackberry 9650 features the best of all networks. In the U.S., it works on the 3G CDMA network, and when you travel abroad, it’ll switch to GSM/3G. This combination means you get fantastic coverage here, and abroad.

The specifications of the Blackberry 9650 are pretty darn impressive – WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, 3.2MP auto-focus camera, 480×360 screen, optical trackpad, hands-free speakerphone, MicroSD memory expansion, quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE, dual-band CDMA/EVDO Rev. A and single-band HSDPA and up to 13 days standby time.

Now, these specifications are of course pretty weak if you plan to use it as a gaming device, but if your life revolves around email, you’ll find that very few devices on the market can compete. With a fantastic keyboard and plenty of corporate messaging features, Blackberry products are what you pick when emailing customers is more important than playing Farmville.

The Blackberry Bold 9650 comes with a full suite of office applications, allowing mobile viewing and editing of many popular file formats. The optical trackpad takes a little getting used to, especially if you are used to a trackball. That said, I did find that after about 20 minutes, I was zooming through the phone very quickly.

Travel with the Blackberry Bold 9650

The Blackberry Bold has a couple of handy tricks up its sleeve for travelers. Of course, the global network support is a fantastic feature, but when on the road, Blackberry Maps are also very convenient. Best of all, Blackberry Maps can “cache” their maps locally.

This means you can download maps over WiFi at your hotel, then head out to navigate, without using up any expensive international data.

There are also 100′s of very good Blackberry travel apps – with all the top names represented. Blackberry users can download travel apps from Kayak, TripIt, Yelp, WeatherBug, Mobiata and more.

In the coming week(s), we’ll take a closer look at some of these apps.

Where to get the Blackberry Bold 9650

The Blackberry Bold 9650 is available on Verizon Wireless and Sprint. At Verizon, the phone retails for $149.99 on a two year agreement. On Sprint, the phone costs $199 on a two year agreement, and after a $100 mail in rebate.

Even though I am guilty of ignoring Blackberry devices since my switch to Android, I’m quite surprised how quickly it has evolved recently. If your travels take you all over the world, having a phone with reliable network support is absolutely worth the investment.

Stay tuned later this week for a closer look at some of the fantastic travel applications available for Blackberry phones.

Verizon Wireless HTC Droid Incredible review

In this (brief) review, we’ll show off the Verizon Droid Incredible. The Incredible is the Verizon answer to the Nexus One – both phones have very similar specifications, but Verizon managed to add a couple of tasty treats to their device.

On the outside, the Droid Incredible is a sleek looking Android powered phone – a red speaker grille, flush optical joystick (instead of the trackball found on the Nexus One) and a side mounted MicroUSB jack (more on that later).

By far the biggest difference between the Nexus One and the Droid Incredible is the addition of the HTC Sense interface. While Google opted for a pretty plain vanilla user interface on the Nexus One, Verizon got a huge serving of eye candy.

One of the best design features of the Droid Incredible is found on the rear – by layering the back cover, the appearance is created of a very thin phone with a bulge where the battery is. It is actually a very nice effect. On the back is also the camera lens and a dual LED flash.

Inside the Droid Incredible is a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 8GB of memory, a MicroSD memory card slot and EVDO Revision A support on the Verizon CDMA 3G network. The phone offers local connectivity through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

The support for Verizon is important – because it is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing comes from the fantastic coverage in the US – seriously, I’ve taken this phone all over the country, and it has not let me down once. Even in an area with zero GSM coverage, I was happily surfing away on 3G speeds on Verizon.

The curse comes when you take a CDMA phone to Europe. Unless you invest in a global CDMA phone with GSM support, you’ll be stuck finding Wi-Fi in most foreign countries.

In addition to the HTC Sense interface, Verizon added a fine lineup of other apps – Quickoffice, Skype Mobile, VCast Tones, My Verizon (account management) . In fact, Verizon has such a large assortment of their own Android apps, that they have their own section in the Android Marketplace, along with some other hand picked Android apps.

(Photo taken with the Droid Incredible camera)

The 8 megapixel auto focus camera in the Droid Incredible is pretty good – colors in daylight are bit washed out, but that is sadly the price you pay on most camera phones. Video quality is acceptable, but the phone won’t replace your HD camcorder any time soon.

Some of the other goodies I previously mentioned are fantastic for travelers – the Droid Incredible supports video output through its USB connector. You’ll need to invest in a $30 video cable, but once you plug the phone into your TV, you’ll be able to watch movies on a large screen, providing some decent in-room entertainment. Another nice bonus, is an FM radio, though you’ll need to keep your headphones plugged into the phone as they act as the antenna.

All in all, one of the things that make the Droid Incredible, well, incredible, is the coverage from Verizon. Granted, unlike on a GSM based 3G phone, you won’t get voice and data at the same time, but to be honest – despite the TV commercials attacking CDMA networks, I can’t even remember the last time (or any time) that I was on the phone and had to access data. Coming from the Nexus One, I also found that the design of the Incredible was “cutting edge” (even though I hate that term).

As the choices of Android phones grow every week, it is becoming increasingly hard to pick the best one – but in my opinion, the Droid Incredible offers the best of all worlds – a compact phone, great user interface and fantastic battery life.

The Droid Incredible is available from your local Verizon Wireless dealer, Verizonwireless.com or most online mobile phone retailers. Prices start at just under $200 on a new two year agreement.

Fry’s Electronics and Verizon Wireless offer no-contract broadband hotspot plan

The United States has always lagged in prepaid and no-contract mobile broadband plans. Especially when you compare things to Europe, where you can walk into any phone store, and walk out with a cheap USB data adapter.

As of today, we may actually be ahead – way ahead. According to an article on Phonenews.com, Fry’s Electronics has entered the mobile broadband world with a $49.95/month no-contract plan.

The plan offers 5GB of data each month, on par with all other operators. What makes this plan special is that it comes with the Verizon Wireless MiFi adapter. This mobile broadband to Wi-Fi device allows any Wi-Fi enabled device to connect to the nationwide Verizon 3G network. Best of all – the MiFI is on sale at Fry’s for just $69.95 – which is $200 cheaper than the normal no-contract price.

Access to mobile broadband at this price point is perfect for travelers, though it’ll only be interesting for those that can actually visit a Fry’s store, which rules out most of the East Coast. More information on the Fry’s MiFi can be found here, and all the information you need on the access plan is posted at Phonenews.