Verizon vs AT&T iPhone 4 DeathMatch

   Posted January 11, 2011 by David Kirk in Technology reviews

Verizon and Apple have finally tied the knot and the public can purchase an iPhone to use on the Verizon network. However, there are several differences between the Verizon and AT&T iPhone experiences. Keep reading to see if you should buy the iPhone through Verizon or AT&T.

What’s the difference between the iPhone through Verizon and AT&T?” several people have already asked me. Surprisingly enough, there are multiple differences that one should examine before deciding to sign that big contract with either AT&T.

Network Coverage

The most important thing about your iPhone is to have network coverage at your home. A good place to start is to check the AT&T Coverage Viewer with Show 3G Voice and Mobile Broadband Coverage enabled. This should show if you will have 3G coverage in your area and at home. Likewise, you need to check out Verizon’s Coverage Map with Data Coverage enabled. The verizon iPhone is NOT 4G.

Neither of these maps are perfect. Borrow a friend’s phone from each service and walk around your house. Ask your buddies at work if they have adequate coverage. Additionally, stronger coverage typically means better better data transmission speeds.

Coverage is listed first because if you don’t have the network available when you need it, then it is silly to go with that network.

Winner: Although the gap is narrowing, Verizon typically has a better coverage area than AT&T.

Network Types

As previously noted, this verizon iPhone is not 4G. It runs on the older 3G CDMA network. AT&T’s 3G network has theoretical speed advantages over Verizon’s; however, this has not always proven to be true in real life tests.

Theoretically, AT&T can hit 7MB versus only 3MB on Verizon. However, having a strong cell signal from your network is essential in getting peak speeds.

Winner: A 4G Verizon iPhone would have certainly won here. For now, if coverage in an area is equal, AT&T users will likely see better speeds.

Simultaneous Voice and Data

One of the major limitations of the Verizon CDMA network is the inability to use both voice and data services simultaneously. For example, you won’t be able to talk on the phone and use google at the same time. Data access should be interrupted by voice calls, but Android users frequently complain that this does not occur correctly. For example, while listening to Pandora, it is not uncommon for calls to go to voice mail instead of interrupting the Pandora app.

Many people will point out that this is the biggest weakness on the Verizon network, and it probably is. However, I don’t think this will be a major issue with the average user.

Winner: AT&T is the only iPhone that does voice and data services simultaneously.

Mobile HotSpot

Verizon is allowing the iPhone 4 to serve as a mobile Mi-Fi device that will share its 3G connection to up to 5 Wi-Fi enabled devices. As of the posting of this article, it is the belief that this will be a free service provided by Verizon. AT&T’s tethering is cumbersome and expensive. With the popularity of tablets, having a free mobile Mi-Fi device built into your phone is huge.

Winner: Verizon (if the mobile hotspot feature remains free)

Pricing

Both the Verizon and AT&T iPhones cost the same amount for very similar hardware. The entry level voice/data plans will be similar as well. Verizon will likely have an relatively inexpensive unlimited data plan that AT&T does not offer.

Winner: Verizon if you want unlimited data; otherwise, a tie.

Customer Service

For both AT&T and Verizon, most surveys put the customer service on the web, on the phone, and in the store as about equal between the two companies. Verizon has less problems with dropped calls historically although AT&T has been improving lately in this area.

Winner: Although AT&T has been narrowing the gap, Verizon wins here.

Conclusions:

The most important feature should be which network gives you the best coverage at your home and work. If you have “No Service” displayed on your iPhone, really nothing else matters.

Also consider this, the iPhone 5 will be out this summer. Will that allow for a 4G iPhone? Will AT&T try to match the mi-fi and unlimited service options offered by Verizon? Will there be issues for the Verizon early adopters? Some more conservative people may want to wait a few more months and let everything sort itself out.

If you must have the Mi-Fi internet sharing or inexpensive unlimited data, the Verizon iPhone is for you. However, if frequently you require using the data and voice features of your phone simultaneously, AT&T is your only option.

Either way, you are getting a wonderful device.

 

About David Kirk

David Kirk is one of the original founders of tech-recipes and is currently serving as editor-in-chief. Not only has he been crafting tutorials for over ten years, but in his other life he also enjoys taking care of critically ill patients as an ICU physician.
View more articles by David Kirk

The Conversation

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  • Freddymac12

    This is obviously a Verizon review. Every area that AT&T was clearly superior, you gave the edge to “Verizon”. This is not a credible review at all, useless.

    • Anonymous

      My unbiased, unpaid opinion…

  • AnnWales

    I agree with this review after having had both AT&T and Verizon, at least about the service. The only network that gives me reliable coverage in the boonies of north Florida and in the heart of Wellington, is Verizon. Sure, the data comes in a little slower but the coverage in untouchable. The only place that I know with happy AT&T customers who get superior service in in the clinics we work. They step outside and Verizon is superior. I’ve always said that I would love an iPhone but never on AT&T’s network. My situation is not true for all people, so I respect the beginning of this article. Try the coverage before you buy. I’d give up data and voice at the same time, faster speed for reliable and wider range coverage, esp when you have daughters who might need that phone in a bad situation. And for those who think I’m an iPhone hater, think again. I love my iPad, my iTouch and my Apple computers. But when it comes to my cell phone, AT&T failed me in both coverage and customer service/billing. Verizon is not perfect but at least I don’t regret choosing and staying with them. Am very happy they got a version of the iPhone!

  • The problem for Consumer Reports (CR) is that numerous carriers, experts, and news organization throughout the world have refuted its finding on the AT&T version of Apple’s iPhone 4. This is especially true in Europe and Asia. And more importantly, consumers, millions upon millions of consumers, have found CR’s original report of a design defect in the original iPhone 4 to be false, even when used on AT&T’s network.