Verizon and Apple today announced that the iPhone 4 will be available from Verizon starting in February. For the most part, the Verizon iPhone is exactly like the AT&T version, but there are two key differences. First, the antenna has been tweaked to work with Verizon’s WCDMA service. Second, Verizon users will be able to use their phones as portable hotspots, sharing their 3G internet connections with up to 5 other devices.
When you go into the Settings menu of the Verizon iPhone, you’ll find a new option labeled “Personal Hotspot.” The reason it’s not simply labeled “WiFi hotspot” is because you can setup a WiFi, Bluetooth, or USB connection,.
TechCrunch has a few photos showing what the new settings look like. If you go the WiFi rout, you can also password protect your connection.
The process looks pretty simple. It’s worth noting that the Verizon iPhone is running iOS 4.2.5. It’s possible that Apple could issue a software updated for AT&T users offering similar functionality.
Neither Verizon nor Apple have commented on how much it will cost to use the Personal Hotspot feature — but I doubt it will be free with the price of an unlimited data plan. Verizon has a long history of charging extra for hotspot capabilities.