At long last, Verizon has announced that the iPhone will soon be available on their network. And with AT&T’s network being supposedly the one weak spot in the iPhone experience, that may be the deal-maker for a lot of people here in the States who’ve been waiting to get an iPhone!
But are there any disadvantages to the Verizon iPhone? More importantly, is there any reason you’d choose an iPhone from AT&T?
The hardware differences
Aside from the issue of antenna placement, presumably to avoid another “Antennagate,” the only external hardware difference in the Verizon iPhone 4 is their placement of the volume controls on the side. This will make the Verizon iPhone incompatible with certain cases, at least until new ones are made.
The biggest difference is inside. The Verizon iPhone models will use a CDMA antenna instead of a GSM one, in order to work with Verizon’s network instead of AT&T’s. This has some slightly unpleasant consequences.
The network difference
First, if you travel outside the United States with a Verizon iPhone, it’s apparently less likely that you’ll be able to continue using your phone. AT&T’s GSM network is a more widely-used global standard, whereas CDMA is mostly supported in the Caribbean and Latin America. (See Verizon’s website for a list of countries.)
Second, AT&T’s 3G network theoretically has higher speeds — up to 14 Mbps for downloads, compared to Verizon’s 3Mbps. AT&T’s coverage apparently isn’t as good and their network seems to be spottier, but if you live someplace where AT&T phones have a great signal that might be a factor in your decision.
More network issues
Another issue the Verizon iPhone has is that you can’t use it to make phone calls and access the web at the same time. So you can’t, say, look something up while you’re talking to someone, and if you’re downloading a movie or something it’ll pause while you’re on the phone.
Verizon is going to offer a feature on their iPhone that’ll let you use it as a portable wi-fi hotspot, for an additional fee. But everyone using it will have to share its one connection … and again, if you get a phone call that knocks it out.
Maybe the next model of the Verizon iPhone will be more worth it, especially if it uses Verizon’s upcoming (much faster) 4G LTE network. The iPhone 4 has been out for a while now, anyway, so it’s not the best time for an upgrade.
If you’re annoyed by your AT&T plan, though … go for it! Either way, I hope you have fun with your iPhone.