We’ve just wrapped up a press conference where the Verizon iPhone became official. If you’re in the market for an iPhone on the nation’s #1 wireless network, here’s what you need to know. Sharing stage with Verizon’s president Lowell McAdam and executive Dan Dee at a press conference in New York earlier today was – no, not Steve Jobs, but his first lieutenant, operations chief Timothy Cook. And while the white iPhone 4 was nowhere to be seen, the three men officially confirmed rampant rumors, that the iconic smartphone is finally coming to the nation’s leading wireless network.

It’s a dream come true, the winning combo said to change market dynamics in Apple’s favor. "I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve been asked ‘when will it work on Verizon?," Apple’s Cook told the audience consisting of select members of the press. As analysts run their spreadsheets to figure out how many iPhones will sell on Verizon in 2011, ordinary folks wonder if they should jump ship.

If you’re living in metropolitan areas other than San Francisco and New York, you may want to stick with AT&T because its network usually performs better in those markets while Verizon leads in rural areas.

Don’t forget about the $325 early termination fee if you’re thinking about deflecting, and other fees you may be subject to – especially if you’re early in your contract.

The Verizon iPhone looks and acts the same like its GSM counterpart, including the same antenna design – except for two things: It has CDMA chips that utilize the Verizon network and you cannot surf the web and check your email while on a voice call.

The latter is a limitation of CDMA technology that affects all CDMA devices, not just the CDMA iPhone. Another treat: iPhone 4 on the Verizon network comes with Personal Hotspot capability that lets the handset connect up to five WiFi devices to Verizon’s CDMA cellular network

Billing the iPhone "the phone that changed everything," Verizon said its qualifying existing customers can pre-order the handset beginning February 3 at their stores and Apple’s, ahead of general availability. Verizon folks can check their eligibility here.

The carrier, which commanded 93 million strong subscriber base as of September, said it will begin signing up new customers from Thursday, February 10 at its 2,200 nationwide stores and the Verizon online store, in addition to Apple’s brick-and-mortar and online stores and their authorized resellers.

The device 4 will set you back the same $199/$299 for the 16GB/32GB version. No details on service plans and other terms of purchase were known at press time, however.

In all, people in the market for an iPhone on the non-AT&T network in the US now at least have a choice between Verizon and AT&T, officially putting an end to Apple’s exclusive agreements with carriers.

Source: Verizon Wireless and Apple