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Verizon iPhone gets five hardware tweaks


Although the Verizon iPhone is largely the same as the iPhone 4 Apple released last year, PC Mag has pointed out five tweaks Apple's made to the design of the new version of the iPhone 4. A few of these hardware changes were necessary in order for the iPhone to connect to Verizon's CDMA network, while others are either cost-cutting measures or subtle improvements to the design.

The most obvious change is the outer antenna. The original iPhone 4 had three break points in the antenna, while the Verizon version has four. While the redesign may have been necessary to get the iPhone 4 working on a CDMA network, according to PC Mag, analysis from iSuppli indicates this could be a dual-antenna design intended to improve the Verizon iPhone's reception. However, according to what we've heard so far, this does not mean the Verizon iPhone 4 is immune from the "death grip" attenuation problem that affected some of the GSM-type iPhone 4s. This new antenna design also meant the volume and mute buttons got moved downward slightly, so case manufacturers (including Apple) will have to update their designs for the Verizon iPhone.

Earlier this week, we learned from iFixit that the iPhone has a dual-mode CDMA/GSM chipset. With a SIM slot and a GSM antenna, this could have allowed the iPhone to act as a true "world phone," but without that essential hardware, the Verizon iPhone won't connect to a GSM network. It's possible that the iPhone 5 will use this same chipset and all the requisite hardware, meaning Apple might only need to produce one version of the iPhone 5 rather than two.

According to iSuppli, and supported by iFixit's teardown, the Verizon iPhone lacks a standalone GPS chip. Instead, it relies on the same Qualcomm MDM6600 chip that handles connecting to GSM/CDMA networks. Rumors abounded last week that subtle hardware differences like these would require navigation app developers to make custom apps for the Verizon iPhone, but that turned out to be untrue.

In its teardown, iFixit also discovered the Verizon iPhone's vibration motor has been entirely redesigned. According to iFixit, the new motor has a "quieter, softer feel, and makes a better sound when on a table." Finally, iFixit noted that although the Verizon iPhone's battery has the same capacity as the standard iPhone 4, the new battery weighs 1.3 grams less.

Overall, these subtle changes to the iPhone 4's design don't make the Verizon version much different. That's not to say there are no differences -- the Verizon iPhone can't use data and voice simultaneously, for instance -- but overall it's still the same great device that Apple released last year.

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