The Verizon iPhone – What you need to know

January 12th, 2011  

You can now get the iPhone 4 on Verizon, and while the phone seems to be identical to the one that works on AT&T, there are some key differences that might influence your choice of network. Here are some key factors to note:

Tethering

AT&T offers tethering to a single computer, but you will have to pay $20/month for that. Verizon gives you the ability to create a Wi-Fi hotspot with your iPhone and connect up to 5 devices to it. (Pretty useful if you want to use your Wi-Fi iPad on the road, or use an Eye-Fi card on your camera) If tethering is important, then Verizon is the way to go. However, there is one caveat…

Using voice and data simultaneously

The iPhone 4 will use the existing 3G network on Verizon (and not the newer LTE ’4G’ network that Verizon is still building) This network has one serious limitation – you cannot make voice and data calls simultaneously (This isn’t specific to the iPhone, and may not be a problem if the next generation of CDMA iPhone supports the LTE network). So, if you are using the Wi-Fi hotspot feature, your connection will be disrupted every time a call comes in. Bad news for business folks who may be logged on to their VPN, or uploading large files. On AT&T, this limitation doesn’t exist, so if you want your connection to stay put, you’re better off not relying on your phone to do it.

Network speeds

AT&T thinks that iPhone users will have to get used to ‘life on the slow lane’ if they choose Verizon. While it’s a laughable claim considering the terrible state of AT&T’s network, there is some truth to it. AT&T’s HSDPA network does have higher theoretical speeds than Verizon’s EVDO network, though it’s just a number when you consider that you never get those speeds in real life.

Body

There seems to be slight change in the body design with the buttons being repositioned a bit, probably to accommodate the new antenna. So if you are a switcher, you may need to get a new case depending on how your case lines up with these buttons. I wonder if Apple will give out free bumpers as before.

Summary: Verizon is expected to have a more reliable network (and it should be true for a while since they do not have the same number of data hungry smartphone subscribers that AT&T has), but the technology comes with limitations of its own (such as not being able to use data and voice simultaneously). Also, you can’t just jailbreak a Verizon iPhone and use it when you travel abroad, so that might be something to keep in mind. However, if you are already a Verizon subscriber, none of these are new limitations, so it should be an easy choice to make.

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