Determining whether Verizon's iPhone 4 is better than AT&T's is no easy call, say journalists from the Times, the Journal and Bloomberg News.
The arrival of
the Verizon Wireless Apple iPhone 4 has been years in the making. Now, days
before the smartphone's Feb. 10 debut, tech reviewers with advanced access to
the phone are finally able to offer their thoughts. Was it worth the wait? Does
it blow away AT&T's iPhone? Should everyone switch immediately?
On the whole,
the critics agreed, there are no simple answers.
The Wall Street Journal's
Walt Mossberg made plain from the start of his review: "They aren't interchangeable."
In The New York Times
tech reviewer David Pogue wrote, "The Verizon iPhone is nearly the same as
AT&T's iPhone 4-but it doesn't drop calls." He follows that, however, with
a number of (as he calls them) "yes, buts..."
in a video review for Bloomberg News
, Rich Jaroslovsy said that the
Verizon iPhone is "for most intents and purposes, a much more satisfying
experience." However, he similarly tacks on, the "AT&T phone is superior in
a couple respects."
In short, the
critics unanimously agreed that the Verizon phone is superior when it comes to
placing, and completing, phone calls. (Pogue dialed a landline and drove around
San Francisco, a notoriously difficult coverage area for AT&T, for 30
minutes. In that time, the AT&T phone dropped the call four times; the
Verizon phone held it continuously.)
other "respects" where the reviewers found themselves in a gray area.
To its credit,
Verizon has activated the iPhone's ability to-for an additional fee-act as a
hotspot for other wireless devices. However, Verizon's CDMA-based (Code
Division Multiple Access-based) iPhone, versus AT&T's GSM-based model,
can't accept calls and browse the Internet at the same time. Also, CDMA isn't
popular outside the United States, and so the Verizon version works in just 40
countries, as opposed to 220 countries for the AT&T iPhone.
the Verizon iPhone's CDMA antenna, Apple moved the Ringer Off switch over just
a smidge, which isn't a big deal, aside from making the phone-which otherwise
looks identical to the AT&T version-not usable with an AT&T iPhone
case. There's also the matter of Verizon itself.
Verizon's network is the best in America," Pogue wrote, "its policies and
prices are still among the worst."
be too busy complaining about AT&T's poor service to remember, Pogue
reminded them that last year Verizon paid the largest-ever Federal
Communications Commission fine ($25 million) after it was found to be charging
users two bucks every time they hit the up-arrow button. Also, during its most
recent earnings call, Verizon announced that it was changing its return policy
from 30 days to 14 days and eliminating its "New Every Two" discount program
Also, last year, it doubled its user contract early-termination fee to $350, causing
the FCC to launch an investigation
into the practice.
surprisingly, Mossberg also criticized Verizon for its data speeds. "I
performed scores of speed tests on the two phones," he wrote. "In these many
tests, despite a few Verizon victories here and there, AT&T's network
averaged 46 percent faster at download speeds and 24 percent faster at upload
speeds." AT&T's superior speeds were most notably, he said, during tasks
such as downloading complicated Web pages or large numbers of e-mail.
has launched a 4G network in 38 cities. Meanwhile, AT&T still has yet to
upgrade from 3G-although, in fairness, it's currently rolling out HSPA+ (Evolved
High-Speed Packet Access), which is the basis of T-Mobile's 4G network.
However, in some instances, the Verizon iPhone resorted to the carrier's 2G
network. The iPhone 4 isn't intended to work on Verizon's 4G network, but the
fact that Verizon has one has put some consumers in the mindset that 3G, not
2G, is a respectable default technology.
Pogue both also mentioned that Apple is due to update AT&T's iPhone this
summer, as usual, but neither Apple nor Verizon will say if the Verizon iPhone
will get an update as well. If it does, it's bound to upset subscribers who
find themselves with a second-generation phone after only five months or so;
and if it doesn't, it'll upset those consumers who held out for an updated device.
about the matter, Pogue interestingly reported back that Apple would only say,
"Let's put it this way: We're not stupid."
there's the much-talked-about matter of how ready-or not ready-Verizon is for
the unavoidable tsunami of iPhone 4 data requests. While it says it's prepared,
AT&T originally thought the same thing.
said Pogue, if you simply care about getting an "iconic, beautiful, fast,
elegant iPhone" that doesn't drop calls, the Verizon iPhone 4 is for you. If,
however, said Mossberg, your big concerns are data speeds and the ability to
travel overseas, and the AT&T service where you live is tolerable,
"you may want to stick with AT&T."