Tuesday, January 11, 2011

FAQ’s Verizon iPhone vs AT&T iPhone

With today's announcement from Verizon, you may be asking yourself, "Now that Verizon has the iPhone, should I purchase one?"  To offer some assistance, below are some thoughts to consider before making a decision to purchase an iPhone from Verizon or AT&T.

Is the iPhone from Verizon the exact same phone as the current one from AT&T?

No, while the iPhones offered from both AT&T and VZ will be iPhone 4, they will be running on two different underlying technologies.  VZ uses CDMA and AT&T uses UMTS. 

What are the differences?

In one word – Speed!

Perhaps the biggest difference comes with the speed of the network.  I believe that AT&T currently has the fastest mobile broadband network.  Independent tests in real life situations confirm that AT&T’s network is anywhere from 35% to 65% faster.  Just this morning, on my iPhone 3GS, I was able to get download speeds of 2.3 Mbps and upload speeds of 1.1 Mbps.  This is pretty fast.  My wife, who has an iPhone 4, has clocked speeds, using Speedtest.com, of over 3 Mbps download and over 2 Mbps upload. 
This speed differential will be most noticeable when you are watching videos and other intense applications such as YouTube.

AT&T customers can Talk and Surf

Verizon customers aren't able to surf the Web or exchange email while they're talking on their phone. That sort of on-the-go multitasking—which AT&T and iPhone maker Apple Inc. have touted in advertising—might seem a little much to some people, but you may be surprised at how often it comes into play.  I especially appreciate it when using a bluetooth device to talk with someone.  Think of it like talking on the phone while looking something up on your computer.  If you are like me, you probably do that more often than you think.
AT&T's network lets users continue a voice call while updating their Facebook pages or checking Google Maps.

 AT&T offer the most Wi-Fi Options

AT&T offers access to its entire, national Wi-Fi network of nearly 23,000 U.S. Hotspots, at no additional charge.  This is one of the most under-reported, best kept “secret” advantage of AT&T.  As we move to more and more data intense uses of our mobile devices, having access to the fastest most ubiquitous network becomes critical.  Think of it this way, if you are attracted to the iPhone because of the Facetime application (ability to have a face to face chat with another user) you will be able to do that in any Starbucks or McDonald’s almost everywhere in the US at no additional charge, not necessarily the same with a VZ iPhone.

What About LTE? Doesn’t Verizon have a Very Fast LTE Data Network?

Yes they do, but it won’t make a difference with the initial VZ iPhone 4, since it has already been announced, the iPhone 4 will not come with the technology to enable LTE.  So it will always run on VZ’s 3G CDMA network.  According to reports, there are no announced plans to improve the speed of their CDMA network.

Are they any VZ advantages?

Well, I have heard people joke, “besides the ability to make an actual phone call with it?”  That may have been true in the past.  I am not so sure that this is a continuing advantage.  While AT&T admits that there still is work to be done in San Francisco and perhaps a little more work in New York City, independent tests show that AT&T has nearly the same dropped call rate as VZ.

How Can That Be?  I Heard Consumer Reports Gave AT&T very Low Marks and VZ the Highest Marks.

Smartphone customers, especially iPhone customers are amongst the most demanding in all of wireless.  AT&T has more smartphone customers than anyone by nearly double.  The Consumer Reports survey relied heavily on iPhone owners. The demographics of this group of customers are younger, significantly more tech savvy, and sophisticated than users of most mobile devices.
In addition to being younger, hipper and more tech savvy, they have a much different standards and expectation of network performance than the average mobile device user. It is no surprise that this very demanding, tech savvy group would be more critical of anything less than perfect.
It will be interesting to see how the perception of the VZ network performance holds up as the percentage of smartphone users of their network rises.

So, is there any advantage?

Well, from my perspective, VZ does have one.  The VZ iPhone4 will come with the VZ mobile hotspot enabled.  This means that, unlike the AT&T iPhone, which requires a tethering cable, you will be able to connect laptops and other devices to the VZ CDMA 3G network via Wi-Fi with up to 5 devices.  This is an advantage since it means that you may not have to purchase a separate device to run a laptop or connect an iPad.  If this feature proves to be a big draw, I wouldn’t be surprised if AT&T does not enable it or provide some alternative.
So, there you have it, my quick comparison of how the iPhone 4 will perform on the two networks with their respective advantages/disadvantages.
Let me know what you think.
Let Freedom Ring

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