The Verizon iPhone 4 reviews are hitting the news wire and the overall response to Apple’s CDMA variant of it popular smartphone is overwhelmingly positive. As expected, the hardware is nearly identical to the current GSM version sold by AT&T and other carriers worldwide. The biggest difference between the two handsets is a slight re-positioning of the ringer switch and a few minor changes to accommodate the CDMA radio. Most of the reviews focused on the call quality and data connectivity of the Verizon iPhone, especially compared to the AT&T model.
So how did the Verizon iPhone 4 fare against its rival AT&T? Well, Verizon touts itself as the nation’s most reliable network and the first reviews of the Verizon iPhone 4 support this claim. Almost every review confirms the Verizon iPhone 4 delivered solid call quality and reliable data performance. On the subject of data, Engadget notes that, while reliable, Verizon’s 3G network is slower than AT&T’s at least in the area they conducted their testing. Interestingly enough, CNet reported the exact opposite results in San Francisco, an area widely known for its mediocre AT&T coverage. While it may not be a speed demon, the Verizon iPhone lets you use your iPhone as a phone and the data-centric device it was designed to be.
This is good news for Verizon customers who have stuck with Big Red and have waited patiently for the iPhone 4. It is also good news for AT&T customers who live in an area of mediocre AT&T coverage. For AT&T customers who live in an area with reliable AT&T performance, the switch to a Verizon iPhone 4 may not be compelling enough to cough up the extra cash for that dreaded early termination fee. If you are still indecisive, check out the early impressions of the latest smartphone to land on Verizon.
David Pogue of the New York Times notes that dropped calls on the Verizon iPhone were almost non-existent:
The Verizon iPhone did drop one call — in baggage claim at the Los Angeles airport. And, of course, there are regions where AT&T coverage is better than Verizon’s. But in general, my testing matches the conclusions of Consumer Reports and RootMetrics.com: the Verizon iPhone has more bars in more places.
Kent German of CNet pointed out that the antenna band on the Verizon iPhone is in a different position than the AT&T version. Apple would not confirm an antenna re-design, but German notes that the Verizon iPhone does not experience the “death grip” problem of the AT&T iPhone 4.
Though Apple and Apple fans may deny there was a problem, we certainly experienced real issues when we touched the infamous gap on the handset’s left side. Luckily, the Verizon iPhone didn’t appear to suffer the same fate. We didn’t experience audio cut-outs and we didn’t see the bars drop when we put the phone in the death grip.
MG Siegler of Tech Crunch reassured Verizon customers that this is an “iPhone on Verizon’s network”. The carrier did not modify iOS with its customary red branding or pre-installed carrier-specific applications.
There’s no Verizon branding anywhere on the device aside from the upper left of the screen which shows you the carrier and signal strength. There are no pre-loaded Verizon apps. There are no apps that work on the AT&T iPhones that won’t work on this model. Every app you’ve bought in the App Store will install and work on this Verizon version of the device. FaceTime is interoperable over the two devices. So is Game Center.
Edward C. Baig of USA Today addresses the issue of simultaneous voice and data and points out that it will not be a deal-breaker for “Verizon-hungry” consumers who are prohibited from using a cellular data connection but can still use data over WiFi while in a call.
Though much is made of this simultaneous voice/data limitation, it probably won’t be a deal-breaker for most Verizon-hungry consumers. There aren’t that many occasions where you want to do both things.
Walt Mossberg from the Wall Street Journal echoed the sentiment of other AT&T iPhone owners who have been test-driving the Verizon iPhone – the Verizon iPhone delivers excellent call quality and reliable performance.
I can say that, at least in the areas where I was using it, the Verizon model did much, much better with voice calls. In numerous tries over nine days, I had only three dropped calls on the Verizon unit, and those were all to one person who was using an AT&T iPhone in an especially bad area for AT&T: San Francisco.
Brian X. Chen of Wired points out the excellent combination of a Personal Hotspot with Verizon’s reliable network. Though he does point out later in his review that a receiving a phone call will halt the hotspot data transmission.
And so far, the Verizon iPhone is pretty damn reliable. It has a hot-spot feature to turn the handset into a Wi-Fi connection to share with multiple devices. I used the hot spot to do work on my laptop for six hours without getting disconnected.
Last but not least John Gruber of Daring Fireball pulls no punches when it comes to the Verizon iPhone 4.
Assuming the iPhone 4 continues to perform on Verizon going forward as it has for me this past week, Verizon is going to bash AT&T over the head with the iPhone 4. Same phone, better on Verizon.