The Worst Possible Time to Purchase a Verizon iPhone?

February is a really interesting time to release a new Verizon version of the iPhone 4, don’t you think? I spot several impending complications with this timeline, not the least of which is a wrench in the typical cycle for a new iPhone arrival.

Today we’re going to discuss why you should think twice before purchasing a Verizon iPhone in February. Hint: It has to do with the upcoming iPhone 5!

iPhone 5: Coming This Summer


The iPhone 5 is on the way

Why are we so certain that an iPhone 5 is coming in just a few months? Completely baseless iPhone rumors abound on the web, making it hard to trust anything we read. So let’s start by tossing out rumors altogether and look at something a little bit more concrete: history.

Interpreting recent data to spot a trend in Apple’s iPhone release practices doesn’t exactly take a statistician. All one has to do is look at the release dates for the past four iPhones. Let’s start with the very first version: June 29, 2007. Already we can see that the first iPhone was released four years ago. When you combine that with the fact that we are currently on the iPhone 4, we can set down our pencils because we already see that Apple is launching these things out at a rate of one per year.

Now, the rate of one per year isn’t enough information. We want to know exactly when Apple will be launching the next iPhone. Do the other versions line up with the same time of year as the first?

  • iPhone: June 29, 2007
  • iPhone 3G: July 11, 2008
  • iPhone 3GS: June 19, 2009
  • iPhone 4: June 24, 2010

As you can clearly see, Apple releases an iPhone every summer with all but one of these releases falling in late June. So without any bogus rumors about case manufacturers ramping up production, we can be pretty confident that Apple will release the iPhone 5 sometime this summer, likely in June.

Now that we have our untainted hypothesis in place, does the rumor mill concur? Yep. According to several sources, the iPhone 5 will begin production in May, supposedly for a June release.

The Verizon iPhone Dilemma

Now, given the near certainty of the arrival of a new iPhone in June, what does this mean for the hordes of Verizon customers waiting to pounce on the new CDMA version of the device in February?

In short, it looks like it means these customers are about to get screwed because their shiny new $200 phone will be old news when June rolls around. There are two possible scenarios that come to mind, and neither looks good for the Verizon early adopters.

Scenario one, Verizon releases the CDMA iPhone in February and AT&T releases the GSM iPhone 5 in June with Verizon following a few months later. This puts Apple on a really weird release schedule where they are juggling multiple handsets simultaneously with different features and varying degrees of outdated technology, which creates real nightmares with iOS updates.

Apple has been continuing to sell the 3GS despite the presence of the iPhone 4 so, while unlikely, this staggered iPhone scenario isn’t exactly unprecedented. Though being consistently ahead would definitely give AT&T a serious advantage over Verizon. Also, it would be hard to pump the Verizon releases if every time one rolled around everyone knew Apple was on the verge of giving AT&T an even newer version!

Scenario two seems far more likely. In this version, Verizon customers purchase an iPhone 4 in February only to get hit with the arrival of the iPhone 5 in June (along with AT&T and perhaps others). This wouldn’t make the iPhone 4 completely obsolete, it would just move to the current position occupied by the 3GS: the cheaper, crippled version of the iPhone that doesn’t do nearly as much or perform as well as the most current version. Again, as a Verizon customer you would no doubt start to regret that February iPhone 4 purchase.

Another Rumor Check

With our two logically derived scenarios in mind, we set out again in search of rumors that might provide some insight into which one is most likely.


A hybrid CDMA/GSM iPhone?

It turns out that Cult of Mac is reporting that there is strong evidence indicating that the iPhone 5 will have a dual GSM/CDMA radio. This highly likely scenario puts Apple producing one phone that works on lots of carriers rather than continuing on with separate CDMA and GSM models. This is great news and means you will be able to buy an iPhone anywhere you want and perhaps even switch carriers while keeping your handset.

If the rumor proves true it also means that the Verizon and AT&T versions of the iPhone 5 are one and the same and will both hit stores in June.


If you have a version of the story where Verizon iPhone early adopters aren’t making a poor decision, I’d love to hear it. Unless you are in dire need of an iPhone before June, it seems to me that you simply can’t get around the fact that you’ll be buying a piece of technology that’s on its way out. Even if you’re perfectly happy with the iPhone 4, it will likely be available at a reduced price in June.

Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts on the debacle. Is Verizon doing customers a favor by rushing out an iPhone 4 in February or are they pulling a fast one on their customers, knowing full well many will want to upgrade by June? Would you recommend lining up for the iPhone 4 in February or waiting for the iPhone 5 in June? We want to know!