How to Switch from AT&T to the Verizon iPhone 4

Verizon iPhone 4
Verizon iPhone 4
Verizon iPhone 4

Been lusting for a Verizon iPhone 4, worried about the cost of the switch?  Here’s what you need to know:

The Fees. If you bought your AT&T iPhone less than 30 days ago, you can return it. Depending upon the deal you signed and where you live, you may be subject to a small restocking fee.  You will have to return the physical phone.  You will not be charged an early termination fee. If you don’t return the phone, expect a bill for its full retail value, as much as $699.00 USD.

1)    Before June 1, 2010 — If you purchased your iPhone before June 1, 2010, AT&T’s early termination fee is $175.00 USD, minus $5.00 for each full month of service commitment that you have already completed. So if you bought an iPhone in June 2009, your early termination fee will be about $80 .00 USD if you cancel in February 2011.

2)    After June 1, 2010 — If you purchased your iPhone after June 1, 2010, AT&T’s early termination fee is $325.00 USD, minus $10 .00 for each full month of service commitment already completed. If you purchased your iPhone 4 when it debuted in June 2010, AT&T will hit you for about $255.00 USD if you abandon ship this month.

How to get some money back: You may not love your AT&T iPhone, but there are all kinds of people and organizations that will be very happy to take it off your hands:

Trade-in your AT&T iPhone. Believe it or not, Verizon has a phone trade-in program that is independent of a new phone transaction with them. You can get up to $265 for a 32GB AT&T iPhone 4 and approximately $210 for a 16GB model if: 1) it can make out going calls, 2) has a working display and 3) the display is not cracked.  Be very honest when accessing the condition of your phone, Verizon will evaluate it when it arrives, determine its value and send you a gift card for what they think the phone is worth.  But they will not return the phone to you if you don’t like the what they’ve sent you.  So, be honest. You also have the option to donate the phone and get a tax deduction for the appraised value.  There are other trade-in programs floating around.  If you have an older iPhone 3GS, Radio Shack has a combination discount and credit/trade-in program that may interest you.

Sell your AT&T iPhone. There is a robust market for AT&T iPhones, especially the iPhone 4 that you can’t wait to get rid of.  This is because as unfortunate as your experience may have been with the Nation’s “fastest” 3G network, AT&T iPhones operate on the GSM network – the most popular mobile device network in the world.  People who live in places where Apple does not sell iPhones or people who live in areas where they do sell iPhones, but want a bargain, can use them with any GSM SIM card. Here are a few options:

1)    eBay – I put my 32GB iPhone 4 on eBay in a three-day auction, it sold for $578.00 USD.  If you have an eBay account and you are very, very familiar with the culture — and are very comfortable with the process of selling extremely popular consumer electronics items on the eBay, you should consider it.  Please do not open an eBay account to do this one transaction and, pretty please do not attempt to do this if you do not usually sell popular items on eBay.  There is a remarkable difference between selling eclectic or specialized items on eBay and selling pop-culture tech.  If you do not know exactly what you are doing, you will be extremely unhappy with the results.  Consider yourself warned.

2)    At you can learn where to recycle your old gear for cash. They have a deal with Target stores and over 850 retail locations where you can sell your old electronics, including your old iPhone 4.

Some Bad News: Although the Verizon iPhone 4 is almost indistinguishable from the AT&T iPhone 4 to the naked eye, the phones are not the same size and the buttons are NOT in the same place.  Your AT&T iPhone 4 case will NOT fit your Verizon iPhone 4.  More importantly, external batteries for the AT&T iPhone 4, like the exceptionally useful Mophie Juice Pack will NOT fit your Verizon iPhone 4.  Mophie is taking pre-orders on their website for the Verizon iPhone 4 compatible Mophie Juice Pack Air, the company says it will ship by February 28, 2011.  This external battery also serves as a case and will double your battery life – you really can’t have a CDMA (Verizon) iPhone 4 without an external battery – unless you’re OK with recharging your new Verizon iPhone 4 by noon everyday.

You’ve also heard that Verizon’s 3G network is slower than AT&T’s.  This is absolutely true.  Between 20-40% slower, depending upon where you live.  This does not matter too much if you are not a serious web browser or cloud user.  If you are … well, you’re going to be a little sad … but, you will almost never drop a call.

You will be committing to a two-year contract for a 7-month old, 3G phone that is already obsolete.  4G phones are around the corner, and you can be sure Apple will be selling one this June – notice that the iPhone 3GS came out in June 2009 and the iPhone 4 came out in June of 2010.  Let’s see … hummm … iPhone 5 in June 2011 – no, they’d never do that … would they?

Because you can talk, you will: I rarely spoke on my AT&T iPhone 4, all kidding aside, it truly dropped too many calls. So I carried a Verizon BlackBerry 9650 as my phone and an AT&T iPhone 4 for everything else. My Verizon iPhone 4 arrived yesterday and it took me about 10 minutes to set it up.  (Awesome!) I made dozens of calls (treating the Verizon iPhone 4 as my primary device) – all perfectly completed and was in Verizon heaven – until I realized that it was 11:45am and I only had 24% of my battery left.  I got back to my office and recharged for 40 minutes, which got me up to 78% before I had to head out to my next meeting.  My new Verizon iPhone 4 hit the nightstand with 2% of the battery left.  This is going to be challenging until the external battery/case companies start shipping.

The Good News: I have a Verizon iPhone 4 and, with the very nice profit from the sale of my AT&T iPhone 4, the switch was almost free! Oh, and … BlackBerry 9650 RIP.


About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit



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