A friend of ours recently picked up the iPhone 4S on Verizon. He is not an iPhone user, and his previous smartphone was on T-Mobile’s network. He practices law, so his phone is all business for him. That in mind, he represents the normal user who doesn’t necessarily keep up with all the minor differences between the iPhone 4S on one network as opposed to the other.
Here’s what he had to say (editor’s note, our friend actually used Dragon Dictation software for this. We’ve edited for clarity, but it’s interesting to see how well it worked overall):
I wanted to share with you the frustration and challenges that I faced when I recently switched to Verizon’s iPhone 4S.
In no particular order I will discuss some of the issues I encountered while trying to integrate with this newly-released iPhone.
Prior to switching to Verizon, I used T-Mobile prepaid account with unlimited data, voice and 5GB of 4G speeds. The phone that I was using on T-Mobile was and unlocked Samsung Galaxy 4G. While this is not a review of Samsung Galaxy, the reason I wanted to switch to Verizon was multiple areas of poor or no signal with T-Mobile and unacceptable battery life of Samsung Galaxy 4G.
I had very high expectations of the Verizon iPhone in terms of better coverage, better battery life and faster Internet.
I rely on my phone in my legal practice as I communicate with my clients, do minor research projects, review and sign documents and of course extensive use with both Gmail and Yahoo.
After my phone was activated and the number ported from T-Mobile, I opened the browser to see how the famous New York Times webpage looks. Why famous? It’s because it is the website that has been extensively featured in the Apple commercials and has been shown in many reviews. I was surprised to observe that it took a full minute to load about half of the page. I checked the speed of the 3G connection just realizing that it was barely a dial-up modem speed. Initially my inclination was that to low speed was due to poor reception area. As I drove around with my new Verizon iPhone I quickly realized that dial-up speed is actually the norm for Verizon 3G. When I call to inform Verizon that I was not impressed with the 3G speeds I was told to “to go outside and turn on my Wi-Fi”.
I used the 4G connection with T-Mobile and have not had a dial-up connection for many years. I could not immediately grasp the difference between the two, and was I surprised when I actually needed my phone to perform, it miserably failed when needed the next day.
Next day in court, I needed to do a simple search on the simple term that I could not readily recall. It took about 10 minutes to complete the search, and when I tried to send the fruits of my small research project (complete with slow speed will Verizon iPhone) via native Gmail application the email that I was trying to send stuck around in the outgoing box for another 10 to 15 min All this time, I needed to send this to the judge’s clerk to be printed for my trial. This task would normally take me with my T-Mobile phone with 4G speed about three to five minutes tops. After this miserable failure I called the Verizon to tell them that by then I had the phone for 5 to 6 days and I have tested the connection in many different spots in and around Philadelphia area with speeds barely over dial-up. Download and upload never exceeded dial-up speed. I was advised by the Verizon representative that “this is normal Verizon 3G speed” and suggested that if I want higher speeds I should switch to 4G LTE.
Another limitation all Verizon iPhone is inability to connect a caller to an existing conversation. My understanding is that this is a CDMA limitation and not limited just to Verizon. (Editor’s note: For clarity, this is referring to the ability to merge an incoming call with a current conversation, or add third caller to a conversation. Which is an option on AT&T.)
Another general limitation of the iPhone when compared to Android is limited integration of Google voice. In particular, on Android devices, I was able to use regular phone keyboard to dial a number, or to use a contact to dial a number and only after I was asked by the system to whether I wanted to use the carrier’s phone number or my Google voice phone number. This is not a deal-breaker since I was still able to use Google voice on iPhone.
A lot has been said about the battery life in the new reincarnation of the iPhone with iOS 5, but for me in particular, the phone would last on the Verizon network between six to eight hours, but never more than nine. I had to have an external charger with me at all times just to get through the day.
Otherwise, the programs that I have used extensively on Android performed quite well, specifically Dropbox which gives me the ability to have access to my files on the road and to organize them in a quick and efficient manner. But of course only when I was using Wi-Fi, while the 3G speed of Verizon took almost forever to upload even the smallest of pictures. I also found Dictamus to be in excellent dictation software which allows direct upload of your dictation to either dropbox, email or FTP server.
Last but not least, is that my expectation that the NFL application exclusive to Verizon was a well-made and free was unfounded. Not only is the official NFL application exclusive to Verizon is by far the worst sports application I have seen in either Android or iPhone. It is also an upsale of trying to get you to subscribe to a ridiculously priced poor quality video feeds. Speaking about videos on the Verizon iPhone, there is actually nothing to speak about since even the three contents: for example NFL application exclusive to Verizon isn’t possible to watch on 3G speed with lag is reminiscent of trying to watch them online in the 1990s.