Verizon turns on Razrs’ GSM radios, pushes out Android 4.0 upgrade

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We knew international roaming was coming to Verizon’s LTE phones – the GSM radios shipped in many of its LTE handsets were just sitting there dormant – but on Friday, Verizon is finally turning them on in two of its devices, the Motorola Razr and the Razr Maxx, as part of the same update that will upgrade those handsets to Android 4.0, a.k.a. Ice Cream Sandwich.

Verizon will start pushing out the update today, according to a blog post on Verizon’s site, giving customers access to new features such as Face Unlock and access to key applications, including the camera and dialer, from the phone’s lock screen. My colleague Kevin Tofel gives a full rundown of ICS’s features here.

Though the GSM radios will now be active, customers must still pay international rates, which aren’t cheap. Even if you subscribe to Verizon’s $5 a month global value plan, a 1 minute call in the U.K. will still cost $1, and prices go as high as $5 per minute in other countries. The phones will be able to access GPRS/EDGE/HSPA data networks as well, though be prepared for bill shock, as international data rates are even more exorbitant than voice rates.

Verizon does offer international data roaming plans that will help you manage your data spending, but these aren’t cheap either. A 100 MB plan will run you $25, which works out to roughly $250 a gigabyte.

One twist on Verizon’s LTE devices is they have SIM cards. Theoretically you could swap out your domestic SIM card for an international one and pay the same rates as a local in any foreign country. Verizon hasn’t stated whether it will let customers use that capability or if it will lock phones down to their SIMs.

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