Apple redesigns antenna in Verizon iPhone

Apple’s new iPhone 4 has been redesigned for Verizon Wireless, with the smartphone sporting a new antenna optimized for CDMA networks.

The new antenna layout includes four band slits on the left and right sides, which is different from AT&T’s iPhone 4, which has one slit on top and three on either side.

“It’s specifically designed for CDMA [Code Division Multiple Access],” said an Apple spokesperson at a Verizon Wireless press event in New York.

The iPhone 4 offered by AT&T has been subject to reception problems, which many concluded resulted from holding the phone in a certain way. Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, famously recommended that users not hold the phone that way in order to avoid the problem.

Apple has said that only a few AT&T users have reported reception problems, but in July the company announced it would offer iPhone 4 users a free case that would help solve the reception problems.

The Apple spokesperson said the Verizon iPhone and AT&T iPhone operate on different networks, which called for a different antenna design. There will be no design changes in the AT&T iPhone 4, the spokesperson said.

The Verizon iPhone also includes the hotspot feature, which allows up to five Wi-Fi devices to connect to the smartphone. The hotspot feature is not available on AT&T iPhones.

But the Verizon iPhone also has a couple of other differences that might make some users decide to stick with AT&T. The Verizon phone is CDMA-only, meaning that users won’t be able to roam to the many countries, including all those in Europe, that don’t have CDMA networks.

Verizon said that voice and text services on the phone will work in 40 countries and data services in more than 20. The operator offers subscribers loaner phones when they are travelling to countries where their phone doesn’t work.

The Verizon iPhone might also prohibit customers from using voice and data simultaneously, something AT&T iPhone users can do, although a Verizon network upgrade could change that. Typically, EV-DO networks like the one Verizon has do not allow users to, for example, talk on the phone and look up something online. Some online discussion suggests that Verizon may be working on an upgrade that will allow the simultaneous usage. A spokeswoman did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Otherwise, the size, weight and other features of the new iPhone remain mostly unchanged. The Verizon iPhone 4 comes with the 3.5-inch “Retina” screen that can display images at a 960-by-640-pixel resolution. It comes with two cameras and runs on Apple’s internally designed A4 chip. The phone will come with storage capacities of 16GB and 32GB, and will be priced at US$199 and $299 with two-year mobile contracts. The phone will become available to customers on Feb. 10.

Nancy Gohring of IDG News Service in Seattle contributed to this report.

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