By Harry McCracken | Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 8:53 am
The Verizon iPhone 4 doesn’t hit stores until a week from today. But if you’re interested in whetting your appetite, read one or more of the reviews which started hitting the Web yesterday evening. They vary in length, comprehensiveness, and attitude, but in many ways they’re remarkably similar. Everyone points out that the AT&T and Verizon flavors of the phone are largely identical. Everyone mentions AT&T advantages, such as international capability, the option to talk and use data at the same time, and–when 3G coverage is strong–the faster data. Everyone talks about the Verizon network’s robustness and discusses the new hotspot feature. And everyone reports a good experience with the Verizon version and gives it a thumbs up–often decisively so over the A&T one.
As usual, the last paragraphs of the reviews often serve as the most concise summary of the overall take. So here they are–along with links to the reviews in their entirety.
Bottom line: In my tests, the new Verizon version of the iPhone did much better at voice calling than the AT&T version, and offers some attractive benefits, like unlimited data and a wireless hot-spot capability. But if you really care about data speed, or travel overseas, and AT&T service is tolerable in your area, you may want to stick with AT&T.
Yes, that’s a lot of footnotes and “yes, buts.” Even so, most people don’t care about overseas compatibility or simultaneous calling and surfing or Verizon’s tactics. They want an iPhone — an iconic, beautiful, fast, elegant iPhone — that doesn’t drop calls.
Now, after years of pining, they have it at last.
If you haven’t caught the theme of this review, let us spell it out — this is very much the iPhone 4 that people have come to know and love. It’s not the next generation Apple device, it’s not a wowee-zowee LTE experiment, and it isn’t a revolution in mobile computing. What it is, however, is a big chance to give a large portion of America’s smartphone users a crack at a phone they’ve likely been lusting after for some time. It’s also an opportunity to give relief to long-suffering AT&T customers in the form of a usable, reliable phone (not to mention a good way to kill many of the jokes the current phone’s calls have created). While it isn’t all rainbows and flowers (the data speed issues or the voice / data considerations could be a dealbreaker for some), it does kind of feel like Apple and Verizon did the impossible: they made the best smartphone in America just a little bit better.
The iPhone 4 is arguably the smartest smartphone. Verizon Wireless is arguably the most solid network in lots of places. Bringing the two together forms a wireless Dream Team that should more than thrill fans of both companies.
Some may prefer the larger screen and unique perks such as HDMI on the Droid X, but the iPhone 4 won’t face real competition until 4G phones–such as the HTC Thunderbolt and dual-core Motorola Droid Bionic–start rolling out for Verizon. Others may want to hold out until the summer to see if Apple launches the iPhone 5 for Verizon at the same time as AT&T. Right now, though, the Verizon iPhone 4 is the best choice. When you add up the luxurious design, razor-sharp (if small) display, app selection, ease of use, FaceTime, and top-notch camera and camcorder, this smart phone stands alone.
Hopefully, Verizon executives have learned from observing AT&T’s travails, and their network is ready for the onslaught of data-hungry iPhone users. We’ll soon find out. In the meantime, a word to whoever it was in the Apple PR department who called my AT&T iPhone while I was writing this column: Sorry about that. The call failed. Try the Verizon number.
Overall, I liked the iPhone with AT&T, and I like it even more with Verizon. I expect many other consumers will feel the same. Sorry, AT&T.
If you have the liberty to choose between AT&T and Verizon to buy an iPhone, your best choice depends on what you value. If you enjoy making phone calls, the Verizon iPhone is the obvious winner. Or if you’re an AT&T iPhone customer and your reception is just pathetic wherever you live, then by all means, pay the price and jump ship to Verizon.
With all that said, if you use your iPhone more often as a general computing device rather than a phone, then the AT&T iPhone’s faster transfer rates should serve your needs.