Current Verizon customers can begin ordering the iPhone online today. Customers who pre-order may get them in the mail a day or two before they go on sale to the general public next Thursday, the phone company said.
Early reviews of Verizon’s iPhone validate what many of us thought would be the case: Call quality is excellent, data speed not so much.
The latter is where AT&T still shines, in terms of the speed of downloads. And if this matters to you, Verizon’s network, unlike AT&T’s, does not let you have simultaneous voice and data connections. As msnbc.com’s Wilson Rothman pointed out, “This means that while a call is engaged, you’ll be able to access Contacts and apps, but no app or services that requires Internet access will function properly.”
The ability to do such multitasking is not crucial to everyone, though.
Here’s what reviewers are saying about Verizon’s iPhone, with pre-orders for it having started at 3 a.m. this morning:
Walt Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, on call quality:
I can say that, at least in the areas where I was using it, the Verizon model did much, much better with voice calls. In numerous tries over nine days, I had only three dropped calls on the Verizon unit, and those were all to one person who was using an AT&T iPhone in an especially bad area for AT&T: San Francisco. With the nearly identical AT&T model, I often get that many dropped calls in one day.
On data quality:
… despite a few Verizon victories here and there, AT&T’s network averaged 46% faster at download speeds and 24 percent faster at upload speeds. This speed difference was noticeable while doing tasks like downloading large numbers of emails, or waiting for complicated Web pages to load. AT&T’s speeds varied more while Verizon’s were more consistent, but overall, AT&T was more satisfying at cellular data.
David Pogue, The New York Times, who “took the Verizon iPhone to five cities, including the two Bermuda Triangles of AT&T reception: San Francisco and New York,” said:
In San Francisco, the AT&T phone dropped the call four times in 30 minutes of driving; the Verizon phone never did. The Verizon iPhone also held its line in several Manhattan intersections where the AT&T call died. At a Kennedy airport gate, the AT&T phone couldn’t even find a signal; the Verizon dialed with a smug yawn.
Most impressively, the Verizon iPhone effortlessly made calls in the Cellphone Signal Torture Chamber of Doom: my house.
The Verizon iPhone did drop one call – in baggage claim at the Los Angeles airport. And, of course, there are regions where AT&T coverage is better than Verizon’s. But in general, my testing matches the conclusions of Consumer Reports and RootMetrics.com: the Verizon iPhone has more bars in more places.
Edward C. Baig, USA Today, wrote:
Of course, it’s the network performance that distinguishes the two devices, a point punctuated in my Midtown Manhattan office the other day when I was able to surf the Web and check e-mail on the Verizon iPhone but couldn’t connect for a time from the same spot on my AT&T phone.
Important disclaimer: It’s impossible to judge network quality based on a relatively short testing period and in a confined, albeit major, geographic market. Not to mention what happens if throngs of new iPhone buyers suddenly pile onto Verizon’s network. But Verizon publicly stated that it has been bracing for the expected blitz of iPhone customers for a while and is confident its network will handle the demand.
Like others, Baig offers sound advice for AT&T iPhone owners not to “bail immediately (if at all), unless your coverage is untenable and unless you’re willing to fork over an early-termination fee of $325, less $10 for every month that you are into your two-year contract. In my experience, using a number of phones through the years, Verizon often outperforms AT&T, but not everywhere. In an area of South Beach, Fla., that I frequently visit, for example, AT&T has superior coverage.”
And, he says, “all things being equal, the AT&T GSM network is actually faster than Verizon’s CDMA network, though a number of factors contribute to network speeds and rarely will you experience anything close to the theoretical maximum. My own speed tests in the New York area were inconclusive.”
TechCrunch’s MG Siegler wrote that “This Verizon version of the iPhone 4 seems to have none of the same antenna issues (as the AT&T model). Try as I might, using the ‘death grip’ and every other grip I can actually do, I can no longer reproduce the same attenuation problem that the previous iPhone 4 model had … calls don’t drop and data doesn’t stop. Again, Apple won’t comment, but problem, apparently, solved.”
And MacWorld editor Jason Snell, also giving the phone high marks, offered this advice:
For all but the most discriminating user, the new Verizon version of the iPhone 4 is the same iPhone 4 we’ve known for the past seven months. If you’re thinking of buying an iPhone and are unsure about which carrier to choose, you’d be well advised to talk to friends about coverage and dead spots near you, and to compare rate plans. If Verizon’s network serves you better than AT&T’s, you can finally make the move (though you may have to pay a fee to get out of your contract – that’s something would-be AT&T switchers should check before committing to Verizon).
It’s also worth keeping in mind the potential lifespan of this phone. Every year since 2007, Apple has introduced a new iPhone early in the summer. If that pattern follows, an iPhone 5 is less than half a year away. That said, if you waited for the technology world to stand still before buying something, you’d never buy anything. If you want an iPhone and need Verizon’s service, you can now get both.
The bottom line: for the first time, iPhone users in the U.S. now have a choice of carrier. It’s a good thing.