Verizon iPhone Review Mix

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All the major outlets already have their hands on the Verizon iPhone. They have taken the handset through its paces and posted their thoughts on the upcoming device. Most seem pretty impressed with their newfound network reliability, and talking about some of the other features the Verizon iPhone adds.

Let’s see what they have to say:


Dropped Calls:

Pogue (NYT): 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 ‚Äî in baggage claim at the Los Angeles airport. And, of course, there are regions where AT&T coverage is better than Verizon‚Äôs. But in general…the Verizon iPhone has more bars in more places.

Mossberg (WSJ): On the big question, 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.

Engadget: So, does the phone exhibit more favorable behavior in regards to dropped / failed calls? The answer is yes — with a caveat. We had many, many perfectly connected and sustained calls while on the Verizon iPhone (many times during testing we actually had to switch from our AT&T device to the Verizon device just to complete the call). After a couple of days of use, the fear that normally sets in about five minutes into a connected call with an AT&T iPhone all but disappeared, and we found ourselves wanting to have longer talks and not worrying so much about the potential for dropped and interrupted calls.

Wired: However, the AT&T iPhone completely failed multiple tests when it could not connect to the network, whereas the Verizon iPhone was able to successfully get a connection in every location and complete every test. That‚Äôs important.

TechCrunch: I can‚Äôt tell you how wonderful it has been to walk through the city while being able to maintain a phone call, or Internet connection. Naturally, there are still a few places I was unable get service, but they‚Äôre typically places where it‚Äôs understandable ‚Äî like underground.

John Gruber: In practice, though, walking around San Francisco and Center City Philadelphia, I feel like I get better service on the Verizon iPhone.

iSmashPhone Verdict: It’s across the board. The reviewers all say that the Verizon iPhone is much more reliable for making calls and connecting to the network than AT&T’s iPhone. Whether this will be affected when the network becomes more congested remains to be seen. Though there are plenty of Android devices on Verizon just as well.


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Call Clarity:

Pogue (NYT): No direct mention.

Mossberg (WSJ): Calls on the Verizon unit were mostly crisp and clear, including speakerphone calls and those made over my car‚Äôs Bluetooth connection.

Engadget: While the phone did connect much more reliably and consistently, it wasn’t impervious to broken connections and sound quality issues. In areas where we had a weak signal, or when moving around, we experienced call interference…

Wired: But over the weekend, when I called buddies with both an AT&T iPhone 4 and subsequently a Verizon iPhone 4, we could immediately tell the difference.

“Holy crap, you sound so much better,” a friend said after I switched to the Verizon handset while walking through downtown San Francisco. “That’s amazing. I can actually hear you.”

TechCrunch: No direct mention.

John Gruber (Daring Fireball): Both of my parents — neither of whom are technically savvy or use cell phones regularly — agreed that I sounded much better while using the Verizon iPhone 4 than I did on my AT&T iPhone 4.

iSmashPhone Verdict: While some of the reviewers didn’t mention the call clarity, three of those that did said it was an improvement. The other (Engadget) said that while service was much better on the Verizon iPhone, it did have its issues with call quality. The statement is a bit more neutral, but it seems as if the winner again is Verizon.



Pogue (NYT): In general, the Verizon and AT&T iPhones are identical. Same sleek, thin, satisfying, plastic-free body ‚Äî all glass and metal. Same gorgeous, high-resolution screen ‚Äî 960 by 640 pixels. Same battery life ‚Äî you‚Äôll need a recharge every night.

Mossberg (WSJ): Apple lists the specs on the two models as identical. They both start at $199, both have the same battery-life rating, both run the same operating software.

Engadget: While the phone does basically look identical on the outside, there are a few notable changes. The first of those changes — and most pronounced — is the shifting of the iPhone’s antenna notches (the little black bands that intersect the frame of the device). On the Verizon version, there are four slits which are symmetrical — two on the top right and left, and two along the bottom.

Wired: Otherwise, the Verizon iPhone is the same smartphone we‚Äôve all grown familiar with since the iPhone 4’s Debut in summer of 2010…

However, I did notice one odd difference when holding the Verizon iPhone next to multiple AT&T iPhones. The AT&T iPhone’s screen is a little bluer, and the Verizon iPhone’s is a little whiter. Both look great, but personally I prefer the whiter Verizon iPhone display. This is only a minor difference, though.

TechCrunch: But holding it in your hand, most regular users would have no idea that there‚Äôs any difference. In fact, the only physical difference is that the single rivet at the top of the device near the headphone jack has been replaced by two matching rivets on either side of the top of the Verizon version of the device.

John Gruber (Daring Fireball): It‚Äôs the same phone. The only difference is the network. And Verizon‚Äôs network is better.

iSmashPhone Verdict: It’s the same iPhone with a new antenna. Wired noticed a slight difference in the screen’s color, but that wasn’t something pointed out by other reviewers.

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New Features (AKA wifi hotspot):

Pogue (NYT): That‚Äôs incredibly convenient (the mobile hotspot). Many other app phones have it ‚Äî AT&T says its iPhone will get it soon ‚Äî but Apple‚Äôs execution is especially nice. For example, the hot spot shuts itself off 90 seconds after the last laptop disconnects. That‚Äôs hugely important, because these personal hot spot features are merciless battery drains.

Mossberg (WSJ): The Verizon model also introduces a feature that some iPhone power users have been craving but that AT&T hasn‚Äôt allowed in the past: the ability to use the phone, for an extra monthly fee, as a Wi-Fi hot spot for Internet connectivity to multiple laptops or other devices. In my tests, this worked fine with Windows and Macintosh laptops, and an iPad. Wednesday afternoon, AT&T countered by announcing a similar Wi-Fi hot spot plan for the iPhone at an unspecified future date.

Engadget: Setup couldn’t have been easier, as you simply turn on the feature, and pick a password for your network. Unfortunately, the network takes on the name of your device and doesn’t allow you to assign a custom name. Connecting devices was essentially flawless — we managed to get all sorts of gadgets online via our Verizon connection, and on the phone side, you’re kept abreast of what’s happening on your network with a notification that lives at the top of your screen (like when you’re in a call and go back out to the homescreen).

Wired: And so far, the Verizon iPhone is pretty damn reliable. It has a hot-spot feature to turn the handset into a Wi-Fi connection to share with multiple devices. I used the hot spot to do work on my laptop for six hours (Reviewer explains later that he was plugged in) without getting disconnected.

TechCrunch: The EVO‚Äôs battery lasted something ridiculously low, like 90 minutes, with the hotspot feature turned on. In my tests, the iPhone 4 can give you a solid 4 hours of hotspot/tethering time. That‚Äôs from a fully charged battery, all the way down to zero. I‚Äôve run it down fully twice. Both times, just about four hours.

John Gruber (Daring Fireball): I used the hotspot feature from my Mac and iPad for much of my work so far this week. It works perfectly, and speed is about as good as one could hope for. The iPhone‚Äôs battery meter dropped about 5 percent for every 20 minutes of web surfing while used as a hotspot.

iSmashPhone Verdict: The Mobile hotspot is definitely one of the highlights of the new iPhone. Some mention some slow speeds, but say that overall it’s a great addition that becomes very useful for getting work done when one doesn’t have internet available.


Data Speed on CDMA Network:

Pogue (NYT): If the top of your screen says ‚Äú3G,‚Äù an indication that you‚Äôre in a high-speed Internet area of Verizon‚Äôs network, incoming calls take priority and interrupt your online connection. If you‚Äôre online in an older, 2G area, you stay online and the call goes directly to voice mail.

Mossberg (WSJ):AT&T‚Äôs network averaged 46% faster at download speeds and 24% faster at upload speeds. I performed scores of speed tests on the two phones, which I used primarily in Washington, and its Maryland and Virginia suburbs, and for part of one day at Chicago‚Äôs O‚ÄôHare Airport. In these many tests, despite a few Verizon victories here and there,

Engadget: The service itself seemed great, though shelling out another $20 for this functionality might not be worth it to everyone. Again, the speeds of Verizon’s network aren’t best in class, and pulling down full size images and webpages makes that painfully clear.

Wired: The AT&T handset on average scored significantly better in speed tests: 62 percent faster for downloads and 38 percent faster for uploads…

Earlier in the morning when I received a phone call on the Verizon iPhone, I was booted off the hot-spot network. This is a limitation of Verizon’s CDMA network: It does not support simultaneous voice and data transmissions, which may be a big minus for some customers, especially business-oriented “power users.”

TechCrunch:  There‚Äôs no question that AT&T‚Äôs network is faster than Verizon‚Äôs for data transfers ‚Äî both up and down. I‚Äôve tried this all over the city a number of times. AT&T is faster. But ‚Äî and this is a very big but ‚Äî in order for AT&T to be faster, it needs to have a signal. And again, that‚Äôs simply not the case in large parts of the city. So speed or not, Verizon still wins this battle hands down in my book.

John Gruber (Daring Fireball): For data, AT&T‚Äôs network is faster, exactly as advertised…For downloading, AT&T is a little faster. For uploading, it‚Äôs a bit more than twice as fast. And latency is about equal.

iSmashPhone Verdict: Speed is a big issue for some. Others may not mind. Many noticed the slower connections on Verizon’s CDMA network, especially when it came to using a mobile hotspot. If a call came during a session on the internet, their connection was dropped. Some said that despite the faster connection, AT&T was still the loser here due to problems with being able to connect at all.


Pogue (NYT): 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.

Mossberg (WSJ):  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.

 Engadget: 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.

Wired: 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‚Äôre 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‚Äôs faster transfer rates should serve your needs.

TechCrunch: There‚Äôs long been a slogan that goes along with many Apple products ‚Äî ‚Äúit just works‚Äù. It‚Äôs also the best way to sum up this review. The iPhone 4 on Verizon: it just works.

John Gruber (Daring Fireball): A lot of people have been waiting for four years for this phone. The funny thing is, by next month, the Verizon iPhone is going to seem like the most normal thing in the world.

iSmashPhone Verdict: Most reviewers prefer the Verizon iPhone for reliability. Though it’s also important to note that most of these reviewers live in huge, populated cities where AT&T’s network is notoriously unreliable. They do note, however, that those who don’t have issues with AT&T or prefer a faster connection, may as well stick with AT&T.


Verizon or AT&T?

Depending on your area, you may or may not have issues with AT&T. On a personal note, AT&T works just fine in our area, so we won’t be making the switch. Verizon is known for their very reliable network, but that has never been an issue for us with AT&T. Those that do have problems may be interested in seeing what Verizon has to offer. Keep in mind, the mobile hotspot should be coming to AT&T iPhones in the near future. The dataspeed is another plus, so long as you are in a reliable area.

Which way will you go?


You can have a look at the full reviews here: 

New York Times

Wall Street Journal




Daring Fireball

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