The promise of an iPhone that no longer drops calls may be tempting many AT&T customers to switch over to Verizon. But is the grass really greener?
It depends. There are many indications the Verizon iPhone offers superior connectivity and far less dropped calls than its AT&T counterpart. However, other studies show that AT&T has faster downloads and is throwing free minutes at existing customers in an effort to keep them.
Deciding which way to go is not a clear-cut decision as there are many factors impacting each phone's performance.
Verizon vs. AT&T Price Comparison
An iPhone on either network will cost the same amount of money. Cost is $199 for the 16GB model and $299 for the 32GB, as long as you are eligible for an upgrade or sign a new two-year contract. Contract-free models go for $499 for 16GB or $599 for 32GB. Right now AT&T is offering the iPhone 3GS (the model prior to the iPhone 4) for $49 with a new contract.
Who Has the Better Network? Verizon or AT&T?
While both iPhones use 3G data, AT&T and Verizon use incompatible networks. AT&T uses GSM, which is more popular worldwide, while Verizon uses CDMA. What this means in practical terms for customers is that if you have an AT&T iPhone, you just can't walk into a Verizon store and ask to be switched over. It takes an entirely new phone. So not only will you need to purchase a different plan with Verizon, but a brand new iPhone.
There are also differences in how these networks handle voice and data. Verizon's CDMA network runs the voice and data on separate tracks. So Verizon users can't be on a phone call and use the web or apps. Other reports indicate that the Verizon iPhone is limited to a maximum of three parties on a conference call and is unable to swap calls. Your individual usage patterns will determine if this is a problem. For most consumers this is probably no big deal, but the limitations on a conference call could be a serious limitation for business users.
The general consensus on network performance from reviewers is that the Verizon iPhone offers superior voice connectivity with far fewer dropped calls than AT&T. However, AT&T has pushed back against Verizon by boasting that download speeds over its network are 6 megabits per second, about three times faster than what the average Verizon customer receives. However, consider how much data you use on the network vs. with WiFi. If you tend to use most data while connected to a home or office wireless network it makes the faster speeds on AT&T negligible.
AT&T vs Verizon iPhone Design
While both devices share an almost identical design, there are some subtle differences. The Verizon iPhone, for example, has a tweaked antenna design; this moved the silencer button enough that previous cases built just for the AT&T iPhone will not fit. However, the Apple bumper case and many other third-party offerings have been tweaked to fit both iPhone models.
Who Has Better Rate Plans? AT&T or Verizon?
There are some key differences in the two companies' data and voice rates (for a full explanation see the rate plans below).
Verizon offers unlimited data plans, which cost $29.99 monthly. Another exclusive is turning your iPhone into a wireless hot spot. Doing so will set you back $49.99 per month, with each GB of data costing $20.
AT&T has tiered data pricing, which can result in a greater cost savings. A plan that caps at 250 MB of data is only $14.99 per month, while the top plan gives up to 2 GB for $25. While 2GB may not sound like much, keep in mind that the iPhone is a mobile device and downloading that much data would mean hundreds of songs or videos. Odds are you will be fine.
In terms of voice plans, the best way to make this decision may be to consider on what network most of your contacts are on. Also, both AT&T and Verizon offer family plans and various incentives for multiple lines on the same account. Also, don't forget that AT&T offers its Rollover Minutes feature, which allows you to bank unused minutes after each billing cycle.
Another consideration: if you are a current AT&T customer texting "yes" to 11113020 will earn 1,000 rollover minutes. It is a viral campaign by AT&T to try and hold on to some customers that may be tempted by making the switch to Verizon.
Final Thoughts on Verizon vs AT&T iPhone Comparison
If you want an iPhone, you can't go wrong either way. It really depends what features are most important to you, your local network coverage and who and how much you intend to call others. Those who are most concerned with dropped calls, a consistent network or really want a hotspot option should choose Verizon. If you are most concerned with download speeds, then AT&T may be the better choice.
No carrier is perfect, but informing yourself about the pros and cons of AT&T and Verizon should make the decision easier and give you more satisfaction once you finally decide to pull the trigger on that new iPhone.