U.S. iPhone customers have been eagerly awaiting a Verizon-branded iPhone almost since day one.
Starting February 10, they’ll have that option. Verizon announced Tuesday that it would soon offer the iPhone 4 on its 3G network. The 16-GB model will cost $200 and a 32-GB model will go for $300, both with a two-year contract.
But will you want to make the switch? That depends on what’s important to you.
Here are a few things to consider in weighing which network to go with.
What did we miss? Ask your burning questions in the comments, and if we’re able to get answers, we’ll add them to this list.
Ability to Make and Hold a Call
If there’s one thing that AT&T has been criticized for, its the network’s frequently dropped calls. It’s not uncommon for iPhone users in busy metro areas, such as New York and San Francisco, to lose voice connections several times over the course of a 5- or 10-minute phone call.
Other AT&T handsets have the problem, based on anecdotal reports, but the iPhone seems to have it worst.
It’s very likely that Verizon will do better.
That’s because AT&T, which sold an estimated 15.8 million iPhones in the United States in 2010, has been overwhelmed by demand for the phone. IPhone callers utilize data services far more than users of most other phones, a February, 2010 Consumer Reports study found. With so much data usage, phones of all varieties are frequently forced back to AT&T’s older and slower EDGE network, or are forced off the cellular network altogether.
Verizon, with a more extensive network and no iPhone users, will almost certainly deliver better voice performance. (And Verizon already has experience with Android phones, whose users are proving even more data-hungry than iPhone customers.)
Whether it’s able to maintain that level of service if millions of iPhones flood its network is another question, however.
The iPhone’s Hardware Design
Some of the iPhone’s problems with voice calls and wireless data connections are attributable to the design of the phone itself.
Apple has acknowledged problems with the iPhone 4’s antenna design, which incorporates two different antennas around the external surface of the phone, one for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS, and the other for cellular voice and data. Sometimes, your hand can short-circuit the two antennas, hurting data performance, as well as leading to dropped calls.
However, AT&T’s dropped-call problem happens for many people even when the phone is in a case (preventing contact between your hand and the antennas) or when the phone is held delicately.
That means the problem lies either with AT&T’s network or with the internal circuitry of the iPhone itself. We know there are problems with AT&T’s congestion, because some of these dropped-call problems affect other handsets. But some might be due to the design of the iPhone. Apple in the past has acknowledged problems with the way the iPhone handles basic calls. If it runs into similar problems on Verizon’s CDMA network, customers of that carrier might wind up just as frustrated.
Verizon is busy rolling out a 4G network based on LTE technology, which it says will deliver download speeds of 5-12 Mbps. It will cover 38 cities, reaching 110 million Americans, in 2011, Verizon says.
Meanwhile, AT&T has recently rebranded its HSPA+ network as a “4G” network, even though it previously referred to it as 3G. The network offers download speeds of 6 Mbps, the company claims. Over time, AT&T will also be adding LTE-based coverage.
However, neither company’s iPhone is compatible with any 4G network. It’s likely that Apple is taking a “wait and see” attitude to these new technologies, just as they did with 3G, and won’t release a 4G iPhone until it is more confident about coverage and reliability.
3G Data Speeds
The iPhone that Verizon will be selling is not LTE-capable, so it’ll be limited to the company’s slower 3G network, which offers download speeds of 600 Kbps – 1.4 Mbps, according to Verizon. Independent tests published by PC World last spring put the speed closer to 800 Kbps on average.
Like Verizon’s, AT&T’s iPhone is not 4G capable, so it’s stuck with AT&T’s 3G network, which is based on HSPA (without the +) and UMTS. The company doesn’t say what speeds to expect from this network, but PC World’s tests pegged it at 1.4 Mbps. Other tests have generally agreed with these results: AT&T’s 3G network is faster (when you can connect to it).
Fuente: Gadget Lab