(This post was originally posted on our miniListings blog. Since it contains pretty generic advice, we decided to post it here in case you missed it over there.)

After months (and months, and months, and months, and…) of rumors, Verizon and Apple announced yesterday that the iPhone will be available on Big Red starting February 10. The first question for many people now is what do I do? Well, it depends on your situation. Here are a few scenarios I’ve come up with and my personal recommendations based on reviewing the announcement and various media comments.

Scenario #1: I already have an iPhone, should I switch to Verizon?

I’ll spend the most time on this scenario, as it the one facing most of you. A lot of you are fed up with AT&T’s service, especially in cities like New York and San Francisco. However, in the majority of places, AT&T’s service has not been bad. My recommendation is that unless you are getting downright awful service from AT&T, don’t run out and switch. Keep in mind the following:

  • If you upgraded to an iPhone 4 last summer, you will have to pay a hefty early termination fee to leave AT&T. Ask youself, is the AT&T service really that bad that I am willing to drop the $200 (or more) it may take to leave AT&T?
  • Your existing iPhone is not compatible on the Verizon network, so you will also need to purchase a new phone when switching. This is going to cost you a minimum of $200 for the 16GB model. You may be able to offset some of the cost by selling your old phone, but I am guessing there will be a lot for sale in next couple of months, driving the price down.
  • If you surf the net while on the phone, you will be very disappointed with the Verizon iPhone. Due to technology limitations on the Verizon network, you cannot access data services while talking on the iPhone.
  • If you do a lot of travelling overseas, the Verizon iPhone will not work in countries that use GSM instead of Verizon’s CDMA technology. This includes all of Western Europe and the majority of Eastern Asia. Heavy overseas travelers are best served sticking it out with AT&T.
  • In general, CDMA phones are slightly slower than GSM phones, so you may notice that the Verizon iPhone may be a little slower than your AT&T iPhone.

So when would it make sense to switch?

  • Your iPhone is unusable in the places you need to use your phone most (like your home or office) because AT&T’s coverage is poor or non-existent. If Verizon’s coverage is better, spend the money so your phone is usable.
  • If your company has a corporate Verizon plan, it may be cheaper to switch to Verizon rather than paying your own way on AT&T. You will need to do your own analysis to see how long it would take to break-even on the switch over.
  • If you are no longer under contract with AT&T (meaning you have the iPhone 3G), then you are in the best position. AT&T and Verizon are in a brutal fight over market share to be #1, so you can play them off each other to get the best deal.

Scenario #2: I’m already a Verizon customer and have been waiting for the iPhone to upgrade.

To begin with, you are the big winner – your dreams have been answered! However, before getting caught up in the euphoria and immediately purchasing an iPhone, be aware that Apple regularly refreshes the iPhone every summer. I suspect this summer will be no different and that we will see the iPhone 5. What will it bring? It could bring support for Verizon’s upgraded LTE network, a faster processor, and/or a better form factor. No one knows for sure as Apple closely guards all future device plans. Rumor also has it that Verizon is putting some hefty termination fees and upgrade restrictions on the iPhone. Make sure you understand what the upgrade restrictions and fees are so you can make an informed decision about your purchase.

Consider this: The iPhone 5 will most likely be available in July. You’ve already waited 4 years for the iPhone to land on Verizon, what’s another 6 months?

Scenario #3: I just upgraded my phone on Verizon, should I switch to the iPhone?

In short, my answer is no, unless you are completely tied into the Apple environment with a Mac, iTunes, Apple TV and more. In other words, you are a die-hard Apple loyalist (or fanboy as many people refer to you). Android has significantly closed the gap on Apple in terms of functionality, and Verizon offers the best Android phones out there. Unless you have a really good reason for switching, you may be disappointed to find out that the iPhone is not that much better than the Android device you just got, and in some areas could even be worse (gasp!).

Scenario #4: I like the carrier I’m on (T-mobile or Sprint), but want the iPhone, should I jump to Verizon?

Wow, this is a good question and quite the dilemma to be in. Well, we know that the exclusivity with AT&T is over, so I would expect that it is only a matter of time before the iPhone shows up on Sprint and T-mobile. If you’re under contract, I would recommend waiting it out. If you’re not under contract, it’s a personal decision on how bad you want the iPhone. I suspect that if you weren’t already desperate enough to switch to AT&T, then you can wait – at least until the iPhone 5 comes out.

In summary

To be blunt, the iPhone showing up on Verizon is a bigger deal to the media and financial analysts than it should be to you. I am sure that you will see many pundits talking about how important this is for Apple and Verizon. I’m sure you will also see people lining up outside Verizon and Apple stores leading up to the February 10 launch.  Make sure you don’t get caught up in the hype and make an informed decision that you won’t soon after regret.

If there are any other scenarios you’d like me to weigh in on, feel free to ask in the comments. I’d be more than happy to give you my two cents and help you with your decision process!