Verizon iPhone Review Roundup
The Verizon iPhone is officially available for preorder and the reviews are pouring in. So how does the iPhone 4 perform when on a different network? Let the group consensus decide.
Walt Mossberg, columnist for the tech site All Things Digital and a noted Apple fan, perhaps best summed up the feelings of almost all Verizon iPhone reviews.
"Bottom line: In my tests, the new Verizon version of the iPhone did much better at voice calling than the AT&T version, and offers some attractive benefits, like unlimited data and a wireless hot-spot capability," Mossberg said.
Of course, that's the short version. The sudden freedom of an iPhone that actually has a reliable connection caused other reviewers to wax a bit more poetic about the change.
"Switching from an AT&T iPhone to a Verizon iPhone is like finally being able to breathe clearly after years of battling allergies. People can hear you better, and you can hear them better. It's that simple. That's the key reason so many people have clung to Verizon while resisting the shiny allure of the iPhone," said Brian X. Chen in his review for Wired magazine.
Verizon iPhone reviewers universally reported very few — if any — dropped calls that plagued the AT&T iPhone. That doesn't mean it's perfect, though. For instance, Chen went on to say that despite the improvement in call quality, the Verizon iPhone "is not a superior media-consumption device."
Several reviewers took issue with the data speeds on the Verizon network. It's well-known that while Verizon is more reliable, AT&T is faster when it comes to data. Engadget's Joshua Topolsky revealed that the Verizon iPhone barely had half of the download and upload speeds of the AT&T iPhone in his area (speeds vary by location). Strangely, in some ways the speed difference didn't seem to matter.
"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. Of course, how much that's going to affect you is based on a lot of factors, and in our day-to-day, there wasn't a noticeable sensation of the device being slower. That consistency in data rates actually may have helped in some situations," Topolsky said.
And the New York Times' technology reviewer, David Pogue, also pointed out that the iPhone may just ruin Verizon's reliable reputation.
"If surveys are any indication, Verizon can expect an enormous stampede of new iPhone customers. Last time this happened - to AT&T - the weight of all those bandwidth-sucking iPhones swamped the network, causing interruptions that persist to this day. The same thing might happen to Verizon," Pogue said.
John Gruber, of the blog Daring Fireball, also brought up the limitations of the Verizon CDMA network that doesn't allow simultaneous data and voice transmission.
"CDMA's limitation only works one way: when you are on a call, you can't use data. But when you are using data, calls come through. If you decline the call, data continues, almost uninterrupted. When you're using the hotspot feature, if you accept a call, Wi-Fi clients receive no data for the duration of the call, but the Wi-Fi connection is not dropped. As soon as the call is ended, data resumes. I haven't run into a problem with this once in the week I've had the phone," Gruber reported.
But there are plenty of other things to be excited about. Rich Jaroslovsky at Bloomberg praised the new hotspot feature, saying Wi-Fi to multiple devices is much easier and more convenient than previous tethering options.
And MG Siegler, of TechCrunch, pointed out something few other reviewers thought of: The new Verizon iPhone doesn't seem susceptible to the infamous death grip .
"Try as I might, using the 'death grip' and every other grip I can actually do, I can no longer reproduce the same attenuation problem that the previous iPhone 4 model had. I death grip the thing, and no bars drop. More importantly, calls don't drop and data doesn't stop. Again, Apple won't comment, but problem, apparently, solved," Siegler said.
Despite having a few flaws, the benefits seem to have outweighed them in the eyes of reviewers. "It was worth the wait," said Laptop magazine's Mark Spoonauer, and Edward C. Baig at USA Today called it a "slam-dunk."
So by all accounts, it's a big success for Verizon and Apple.
And yet, the Verizon iPhone's true competition isn't really the AT&T iPhone 4, it's the handsets that are coming soon. Several reviewers pointed out that despite the Verizon iPhone's obvious advantages, it might not be smart to get one when we're close to an iPhone 5 announcement this summer .
Spoonauer also wrote in Laptop magazine that the iPhone 4, regardless of carrier network, might look a little outdated when 4G phones start rolling out in the next few months.
"Some may prefer the larger screen and unique perks such as HDMI on the Droid X, but the iPhone 4 won't face real competition until 4G phones—such as the HTC Thunderbolt and dual-core Motorola Droid Bionic—start rolling out for Verizon. Others may want to hold out until the summer to see if Apple launches the iPhone 5 for Verizon at the same time as AT&T," Spoonauer said.
Meaning that, just as it always has, today's big thing will eventually be yesterday's obsolete paperweight. And yes, that even applies to the amazing Verizon iPhone 4.