A week with my Verizon iPhone: pros and cons

My Verizon iPhone

All the other reviews you’ve seen are from journalists who received Verizon iPhones from either Verizon or Apple and didn’t have to pay for them. I had no such loaner, so had to do the honorable thing: I bought one and used it for a week now. It cost me about $250 because I already ahd a Verizon account. Here’s my report.

PROS FOR VERIZON

1. No dropped calls. My AT&T phone had six drops in same time, at same places I’ve used the Verizon at.

2. A wider coverage area in SF area. I’ve been several places where AT&T just refuses to work, like on Devil’s Slide, or in some places in downtown San Francisco (on second street, for instance) but Verizon hasn’t failed yet.

3. Demonstratably clearer voice quality, even when an AT&T phone is used on other side. This is amazing, too. The voice quality is just much better with EVERY call. Not a single call has sounded worse (I asked lots of my friends to call back on my Verizon number). This is so drastic a difference that I’ve now switched my voice to Verizon permanently.

4. Data worked more places. It was interesting, but lots of places in SF I can’t use data. I don’t know if it’s an overload problem, or a signal problem, or what not. But when I hit one of those spots, like near second street and mission, I pulled out my Verizon phone and it had a great data signal and worked fine.

5. Wifi hotspot out of the box. This rocks, because now my kids can use the iPads in the back seat of the car. Yeah, I know, all you Android users and Palm users have had that for months, if not years, but glad to see iPhone users are finally getting that capability. That said, Verizon is charging something like $40 a month more for that. Yikes.

AT&T PROS

1. You can use Voice and Data at same time on AT&T. This is definitely something that bugs me, but it hasn’t bugged me as much as I expected. For one, most of the time when I use voice I’m at home and have access to wifi, so this problem doesn’t happen there (when I’m driving I rarely use voice and data together, which is most of the time when I use voice). But it is a problem and you’ll have to decide for yourself which is more important, great voice quality and no dropped calls or the ability to use voice and data together.

2. International usage. I’ll be in Amsterdam in six weeks, and AT&T works there, but I don’t think the Verizon phone will.

3. Data speed. Yes, overall, AT&T is faster, but usually that doesn’t matter for me. Why? I could only tell in some spots when I had strong AT&T signals.

So, which one wins?

Well, for me, Verizon does. Why? Because it more consistently worked with both data and voice. But with the caveat that you stay in the US and that you don’t care about using voice and data at the same time.

Luckily, I have both an AT&T and a Verizon phone, so I have the best of both worlds, but that’s a luxury very few of you can afford. Personally I hate AT&T and how they have treated most of us iPhone users the past three years. The quality of service just hasn’t been close to what it needs to be for the charges they are getting.

Good luck!

UPDATE: A good place for more info is on Quora’s Verizon iPhone topic page.

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

30 thoughts on “A week with my Verizon iPhone: pros and cons

  1. I am a Verizion customer and i have never felt the need to talk on the phone and surf at the same time. The first time I feel the need, i will call the person back after i found what i was looking for.

  2. Yup, this will vary from place to place and from vendor to vendor. I can’t use T-Mobile in my house, for instance, while some of my friends rave about its coverage and service elsewhere.

  3. I have used my AT&T phone in: New York, Seattle, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Antonio, and other places. In each place I’ve had dropped calls and my Verizon gives better voice quality. Where else should I test it? Also, during big events like ComicCon in San Diego or the World Series in Texas or CES in Las Vegas. AT&T falls apart. Verizon doesn’t.

  4. All carriers in some certain time in their operations have dropped calls. It is normal for a telecommunications carrier to have dropped calls. Dropped calls are either issues on the line or signal or on the mobile phone itself. Anyways, thanks for sharing your experience on this.

    1. Thank you Mr. Technology Guru. Is it normal to have 7 dropped calls during one conversation? That has been my AT&T experience.

  5. Thanks for the review. I’m a long time VZW customer (best coverage in area) and want the iPhone but will wait ’til Aug. to avoid ETF.

    I must use At&t GSM work-phone and find coverage spotty w/ classic dropped/no calls (often end up using my VZW phone for work when on the road). At&t ‘s cell tech help has been o.k., but they offer no solutions to poor signal, other than to say:” Move to a different area”. (This is in residential suburbs)

  6. Here’s my question. My regrets if this has been asked or stated. With the Verizon version, can the kids use data, while dad is on the phone? Not that dad would talk and drive…

  7. What is it with Steve Jobs’ aversion to multitasking?? I just don’t get it. WebOS/Palm have had TRUE multitasking for almost two years. (I know, I know, but no users/apps as well for all you Apple fanboys)

    1. Steve Jobs has an aversion to 2 hour battery life. And considering the roaring success of WebOS/Palm, I’d say that Mr. Jobs made the right call.

      Smartphone users don’t care about theoretical advantages of greater multi-tasking capabilities. They care about their phone still being functional past mid afternoon. They care about listening to music while surfing, checking their mail without dropping the turn by turn GPS, etc. They don’t want or need 10 apps running at once in background and sucking dry the battery.

      1. Did not intend to get into a pissing match with fanboys so I will not respond in kind. You are correct, Jobs made the right calls with his design trade-offs. I was just focusing on multitasking because first gen iPhone and iPads don’t have it. I just find that pretty surprising in 2011.

        1. Perhaps if your intentions are not to partake in pissing matches with “fanboys,” you might demonstrate this by not “whipping it out” at the outset.

        2. And? What is your point in bringing this up in the Verizon discussion? Does the Verizon iPhone support multitasking while preserving battery life? Yes. Does the iPad and all iPads ever shipped support this with the current, OS, which is free upgrade and it was designed for? Yes. How can you claim to not have wanted to start a pissing match?

  8. Very helpful post! I would assume that the CDMA Verizon iPhone will NOT work in Amsterdam. I had my Sprint CDMA 3g android phone there last year and it would not even attempt to connect. Looks like Verizon data plan is overall less expensive too (looks that way, i haven’t done a full blown analysis)

    1. Europe as a whole is GSM only.

      Also, in Europe GSM iPhones don’t experience any of the dropped call/voice quality issues of AT&T in the USA. This is strictly AT&T’s problem which they refuse to fix through some combination of unwillingness to invest money in their network and sheer incompetence.

      1. It depends. If you have a carrier (who like AT&T) doesn’t upgrade their network to fix signal issues, it can be a problem. (T-Mobile in Holland was the first carrier with Iphones, and their network is still not that great. (KPN & Telefort now also sell iPhones, so there is a choice).

  9. I believe future Verizon iPhones will address both voice/data (which we know can be done on an LTE capable device) and international capabilities. RIM added int’l SIM capability to devices for Verizon and Sprint but the question is will Apple do the same.

    In my opinion, simultaneous voice and data is great every blue moon with normal phone usage. I had Sprint for years, went to ATT and now back to Sprint (EVO). I used it about twice in one year on a 3GS. However, having voice-data when tethering is wonderful. If I have good 4G coverage when traveling, it is nice to be able to work on the laptop and talk at the same time.

  10. Great info. Whats the point of having faster data if it wont work in many places. One question: If I have a verizon phone with the wifi hotspot can I dump the $14.95 I’m paying AT&T now for iPad service? I only have a 3g iPad because my AT&T phone has no wifi hotspot.

    News has been reporting that sales of the Verizon phone have been less than expected but everyone I’ve spoken with is interested in buying Verizon but wants to wait till hopefully the iPhone 5 is released in June. Then you’ll probably see the tide coming over.

  11. Even AT&T in it’s latest round of advertising is giving up on the simultaneous voice and data thing. Seriously, it’s a red herring. Yeah, ok, it’s kinda nice to be able to do every once in a while, but it’s FAR more important that a smartphone be able to make and take and HOLD a phone call.

  12. I laugh at all the iPhone users who complain about AT&T services (both customer services and outage). Is having a Porche without an engine worth having?

    The best phone in the world with poor service, dropped calls, and not signal is useless.

    I’m happy to see Scoble is holding up the mirror.

  13. Thanks Robert. I’ve been actually waiting. My AT&T contract is up this month – but didn’t want to swing over to Verizon only to find that the vines were so much slower!
    The tipping point for me is the call clarity.
    I have multiple data devices – but dropped calls and murky sounds have me pushing headsets into my ear in a frustration that shouldn’t accompany a simple phone call.
    I think in the entire time I’ve had AT&T on the iPhone I’ve used data & voice at the same time once. Yeah, I make more than one phone call a day. :
    Thanks for the candor.

  14. Voice & data at the same time not a problem because you talk on wi-fi usually? You must not be a power user…or a normal user. This is a major deal breaker for most.

    1. I’m a pretty heavy user (sticking with AT&T because I travel in GSM only countries at least one month a year — I would never switch to a CDMA phone, period) and I can count the number of times I have needed simultaneous voice and data on the fingers of one hand.

      If it is that dire a situation you can always call back via Skype — that way you can use other data apps while continuing your conversation.

  15. Amen to hating the way ATT has treated its customers. I have 15 pages of written notes about how bad their service has been, waited over 35 minutes to get to a rep at customer service the other day and still can’t get my billing right after multiple complaints.

    1. Don’t expect better customer service and especially billing with Verizon — from long and bitter experience, their billing is the worst of the worst.

      Be clear why you are switching to Verizon if you switch: better voice quality, no dropped calls, wider rural coverage. Period. Don’t expect anything else, because it just isn’t there.

  16. I like to be able to talk & use my wine app. I thinking of getting a Verizon for the meaf fact that AT&T has very spotty coverage in wine country. Every time I use iVinoX at the Northern edge of Dry Creek Valley, I lose app funtionality. Good comparisons!

  17. Interesting comments. Everything that’s been posted tells me I should move to Verizon the next time I get a chance.

    I don’t know if I think the Verizon iPhone launch numbers were all that interesting, but it will be VERY interesting to see how the daily A vs. V sales stack up now that you have a choice. My money is on Verizon by a bunch…

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