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Engadget’s VZ iPhone 4 Review Pits AT&T Versus Verizon

So Engadget just posted their Verizon iPhone 4 review and we all know that the hardware is almost identical. The fight has always been about the networks though. A few surprises here (at least for me).

First off, you can still degrade the signal by touching that spot on the VZ iPhone so that hasn’t changed. What about call quality itself? Yup, Verizon took it here.

While the phone did connect much more reliably and consistently, it wasn’t impervious to broken connections and sound quality issues. In areas where we had a weak signal, or when moving around, we experienced call interference (our callers noted this as well), and in two instances, we did drop a call when moving from one place to another (clearly an area with less Verizon juice).
Let’s be clear here, however. Calls were consistently connected and uninterrupted, far more often than our AT&T calls in the same time period in similar locations. There were sound quality issues (it seemed to be happening more on our outgoing audio than incoming), but they were few and far between according to our friends and family. Overall, our level of confidence in the phone’s ability to handle one of its main tasks went way, way up during our testing.

The interesting part is data. AT&T’s and Verizon’s networks handle data differently. And as they note, that means that on Verizon if you get more than two calls the next calls goes straight to voicemail, unlike AT&T. Also, if you’re using data on Verizon it gets bumped when a call comes in since it can’t handle data and calls simultaneously. And international roaming with Verizon isn’t as seamless as a GSM phone. OK but that’s all old news, let’s get to the real data fight. Here’s the shocker:

Let’s put this as simply as we can: data rates on the Verizon iPhone 4 we tested were dramatically slower than those on its AT&T counterpart. How much slower? Well, even though network speeds fluctuate based on many factors, we didn’t see the Verizon device peak much beyond 1.4 Mbps on downloads (and even that high was rare), and it barely hit 0.5 Mbps on upstream. On the other hand, the AT&T device regularly pulled down above 3 Mbps, and 1 Mbps or more going up. We’ll admit that the Verizon speeds were more consistent, but the irrefutable fact is that AT&T’s network is much, much faster, at least in our neck of the woods.

I’m surprised by that, you?

Finally, pricing for the phones is the same but plans are different. Put simply, because of the Verizon unlimited data scheme for $30 it’s a better deal generally speaking but if you don’t use a lot of data there’s a cheaper AT&T deal for you.

Anyway, neat experiment if nothing else…you can now get calls and then you have to stop getting data or if you stop making calls you can get slower data. Yeah mostly a draw.

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