When Verizon Wireless announced it will begin carrying the iPhone on February 10, a friend of mine who had been eagerly awaiting the news quickly became disappointed. Why? Because he travels to Europe and Asia periodically and needs a so-called world phone, one that works in multiple countries' cellular networks. The Verizon iPhone isn't such a device; it works only in the United States and Canada on the CDMA network technology not widely used elsewhere. He could get a GSM-based AT&T iPhone, which works in most countries, but he'd suffer from the same terrible service as every iPhone user he knows in the Silicon Valley: constant dropped calls, poor reception, and uneven data access.
So my friend thinks that he'll get an Android smartphone instead, given their popularity. He's also had a chance to play with the device and finds it appealing -- Verizon has the Droid 2 Global that offers both CDMA and GSM radios. (Sprint has no equivalent smartphones, and although T-Mobile has some world-capable devices, its coverage is not great in the Silicon Valley.)
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But he'd prefer an iPhone, as do many others. In the meantime, there is a work-around that frequent travelers who want iPhones might consider. For your "travel iPhone," get an iPhone 3G S, either secondhand or new (while they're still available and enjoying close-out pricing) in one of the GSM-based countries you visit; at the same time, pick up a Verizon iPhone for regular use in the United States.
In many parts of the world, you can get pay-as-you go plans, rather than commit to a monthly charge. Then when you're traveling abroad, you use a local SIM to keep the costs reasonable. Just be sure the iPhone is not locked, so you know it will work with other SIMs. In most countries, you can go to any carrier's store and just get a SIM for about $10 and a pay-as-you-go plan for the time you're there. (If you travel mainly in Europe, consider getting a SIM in the United Kingdom; I've found the U.K. plans are typically more reasonably priced, even for intra-Europe roaming, than those available on the Continent.)