Verizon’s iPhone 4 contains a chipset that could have enabled it to work on AT&T’s network as well, a teardown by the repair site iFixit revealed.
The finding means that Apple could have created a true world phone by supporting both Verizon and AT&T’s networks in a single device.
IFixit found that the Verizon iPhone 4 uses a Qualcomm MDM6600 chip that supports the carrier’s CDMA and EVDO network standards, but it also includes support for GSM and HSPA+ networks which AT&T and T-Mobile use. The latter two standards are more widely supported internationally than CDMA, which is used by Verizon and Sprint in the US. The same Qualcomm chipset is currently used in Motorola’s Droid Pro world phone.
Difficulties developing an antenna that would work across the various standards and frequency bands likely led Apple to limit the phone to CDMA only, according to iFixit.
The finding tells us that Apple is at least one step closer to offering an iPhone that can work across all US cellular networks, as well as pretty much anywhere internationally. I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple ended up offering that with the iPhone 5, as it would be much easier for it to produce a single device that can run anywhere, rather than multiple iPhones with minimal network differences.