Print 28 comment(s) - last by Smilin.. on Feb 7 at 6:41 PM

The iPhone4 is now on Verizon, sporting some hardware and firmware improvements it's picked up over the last several months. But the network is a mixed bag.  (Source: Cell Fanatic)
I want the one with the bigger "GB's"

In a perfect world the iPhone 4 would have launched on Verizon in June 2010 and Apple would have listened to its engineering staff and fixed the phone's antenna.  Unfortunately, that wasn't the case and the iPhone 4 launched on AT&T with a host of problems, leading Apple to fall short of a surging Android.  

Fortunately for Apple, today it has that product that it should have had half a year ago, according to early reviews.  The iPhone 4 on Verizon should perhaps be known as the iPhone 4.5 as it offers up improved hardware.  And while the network itself offers some steps forward and others back, it's what AT&T customers have been clamoring for, so to most earlier buyers it will likely seem better, even if the perceived quality improvement is just a bit of a placebo effect.

I. The Good

Starting with the infamous antenna, TechCrunch blogger MC Siegler writes:

This Verizon version of the iPhone 4 seems to have none of the same antenna issues. 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.

Of course, the AT&T hardware that's shipping today also likely has the problem solved, but news reviews tend to focus on new phones, thus the fix probably went unnoticed for a couple of months.

But is the Verizon network as much better than AT&T as everyone claims?  Sort of, according to Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal.  He writes:

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. But if you really care about data speed, or travel overseas, and AT&T service is tolerable in your area, you may want to stick with AT&T.

USA Today's Edward C. Baig similarly offers:

A winning outcome is a slam-dunk as far as I'm concerned, at least based on my six days of testing a Verizon iPhone in New York City and Northern New Jersey. Though not every call was crystal clear - this is a cellphone, after all - I haven't experienced any of the dropped calls, so far anyway, or other frustrating hiccups during my tests that have been driving some owners of the AT&T iPhone bonkers during the 3½ years that the carrier has had iPhone exclusivity in the U.S.

II. The Bad

But apparently the data network is slower -- unsurprising given that AT&T, on average, offers the fastest data network in the country, according to numerous tests.  Writes Josh Topolsky of Engadget:

So far so good — voice calls are better, minor issues really are minor. It's an iPhone on Verizon's network. Ah, but it's an iPhone on Verizon's network — and that means there are certain considerations you're going to have to take into account when it comes to data.

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.

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 — particularly when pulling down maps. We see our AT&T device stop and start quite a bit on major data pulls, whereas the Verizon phone seemed to latch onto a stream and not stop until the bits were uniformly situated on our phone. That said, there's no denying that YouTube videos and streaming content is going to appear more quickly on your AT&T handset.

Apparently that commercial showing the Verizon and AT&T iPhone 4s operating in unison isn't a very likely scenario.

And The New York Times' David Pogue adds:

Even if Verizon's network is the best in America, its policies and prices are still among the worst.


Consider, too, that 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.

Verizon swears that it's prepared for the onslaught. Then again, that's what AT&T said, too.

III. Some Perspective

So to sum up, the changes from Verizon network are largely expected -- a wireless hotspot, better voice coverage, better voice quality, fewer dropped calls (good), worse fees/prices, and slower data service (bad).  The hardware changes -- a fixed antenna -- are also what one might expect.

It's important to also consider that the original iPhone 4 launching on AT&T had a number of other issues, including the supposedly hardy Gorilla Glass screen shattering far easier than its Android competitors.  While it's uncertain if that issue has been addressed, one issue that has is the proximity sensor woes, which were fixed in an update to iOS 4.

If you're in the market for a smartphone now, you really have just a few top choices like the Android EVO 4G and Epic 4G.  The new and improved iPhone 4 definitely sounds like it earns a spot in this elite group, for its strong OS catalog and more polished hardware, alone.  What network to buy the iPhone 4 on is debatable.

One other thing to consider is that the iPhone 5 is only four months away, and with it likely a 3.5G or 4G data chip (faster data speeds) and other improvements (a faster processor, perhaps).  Likewise a host of hot Android 3.0 smart phones should be launching in the late Spring/early Summer window.  So the Verizon iPhone 4 is a solid option for now, but it will quickly be replaced by the next big thing.

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Bars is bars
By Smilin on 2/3/2011 10:28:47 AM , Rating: 1
So let me first just say: yes, I'm nuts or an idiot or whatever for doing the opposite of what the world agrees on.

After I think about 7-8 years I switched from Verizon to AT&T. Gasp!

I've been super overly sensitive about dropped calls due to all the bad press I've heard. I *think* I dropped a call once but it might have been a 'end call with face' problem on the touchscreen. But that's it.

I have two deadzones in my house about 3ft in diameter. If you deathgrip a phone you can get it down to no signal in these spots. They aren't usual talking spots so it matters little.

That's it though. That is the limit of the horror of AT&T that I've seen. Data is fine, voice is fine, no dropped calls, no f'ups in my bill so far. Maybe AT&Ts network is clearing up from all the departing iPhone users or something. I'm not sure.

Mine is just an anectode of course but I really don't see what all the bitching is about from the iPhone people.

Those of you switching to Verizon: Be prepared and watch your bill carefully. Also realize that because they are the largest it means you as an individual mean nothing to them.

Samsung Focus WP7 btw.

RE: Bars is bars
By Sazabi19 on 2/3/2011 10:57:12 AM , Rating: 1
Lol @ the fact that you accept dead zones in your house and that holding your phone causes signal problems is acceptable to you.

RE: Bars is bars
By Mitch101 on 2/3/2011 2:39:22 PM , Rating: 2
I think this is a must read for everyone.

Giz Explains: Why Your Call Dropped

Sure the iPhone 4 had an antenna design issue but I believe there were several updates since to correct.
1-Holding it different pinky out. :)
2-A free condom for safer bars and less unwanted signal drops.
3-Bandaid or Tape over problem area.
4-Antenna/casing redesign.
5-Move to Verizon
6-I believe the iPhone 4 going to verizon was rumored to have another antenna design change. Dont know if its true or not but I recall seeing there was a border case change.


RE: Bars is bars
By Smilin on 2/3/2011 5:27:12 PM , Rating: 4
*sigh* You're like Sarah Palins 6th kid or something. I'll name you Trapper.

What I said..
I have two deadzones in my house about 3ft in diameter. If you deathgrip a phone you can get it down to no signal in these spots. They aren't usual talking spots so it matters little.

Here, let me use a list and unnecessarily up the word count so can follow along and stay in the conversation.

1. It's two spots in the entire house, each about the size of one standing spot.
2. These spots work fine.
3. A deathgrip is a grip to intentionally mute signals and isn't how one usually holds the phone.
4. The phone works with a deathgrip.
5. The phone only fails when in the above spots AND using a deathgrip.
6. These are not spots I would normally stand in to talk anyway.

Sorry about that third chromosome thing. You can make it though.. heart of a champion!

RE: Bars is bars
By quiksilvr on 2/4/2011 8:58:34 AM , Rating: 2
I hate to be devil's advocate, but:

If these are spots you don't usually stand in to talk, how do you know it's there?


(P.S. I know you just checked areas of your house, I'm just being a silly goose.)

(P.P.S. We need to bring the term "silly goose" back into conversations)

RE: Bars is bars
By Smilin on 2/7/2011 6:41:43 PM , Rating: 2
hehe yeah I checked the house, work, couple other things while I was still in my 30 day return window.

Simple riddle for you:


RE: Bars is bars
By Drag0nFire on 2/3/2011 11:12:51 AM , Rating: 2
Those of you switching to Verizon: Be prepared and watch your bill carefully. Also realize that because they are the largest it means you as an individual mean nothing to them.

Been with Verizon for 8 years. Never had a problem with my bill. Always get prompt service customized for my individual needs when there's a problem. I find it hard to believe ATT would care more about me as an "individual".

RE: Bars is bars
By vol7ron on 2/3/2011 11:51:43 AM , Rating: 2
Part of the Verizon contract forced Apple to fix the antenna problem. How did they fix this? They added another one to the top (you'll notice there's an extra divider on the Vzn version iPhone4). I'm curious if the Tech Crunch guy tried touching ever edge of at the same time.

Verizon still has it's problem of being CDMA, which means that you will not be able to do data at the same time as voice calls.

I had Sprint (worse than AT&T where I was), then Verizon, then AT&T. I do notice a lack of coverage in some spots on the highways (in mountains) and lack of 3G on highways more in the SE USA. I also noticed that AT&T was not available everywhere in the DC Metro system, where Verizon was - something DC travelers/residents should consider, since subway is probably a nice free time to use the device.

RE: Bars is bars
By dubldwn on 2/3/2011 12:49:03 PM , Rating: 1
I'm curious if the Tech Crunch guy tried touching ever edge of at the same time.

Well, in fairness, if you're "touching every edge of at the same time," you really are holding it wrong.

RE: Bars is bars
By snakeInTheGrass on 2/4/2011 12:24:35 AM , Rating: 2
But what if you hold it 'right' while you're trapped in a Faraday cage? Did they think of that? People in cages have rights too! Screw Apple, they don't get anything right!

In fairness, AT&T SUCKED when I got my iPhone 3gs, but they clearly did some cell tower work in my area because they're just fine now. Home went from 0-1 bars to 5. (Uh, actually got the phone for development, I hate dealing with phone calls - so largely the 0 bars thing worked for me too... ;) )

RE: Bars is bars
By Tony Swash on 2/4/11, Rating: 0
RE: Bars is bars
By Samus on 2/3/2011 2:21:29 PM , Rating: 2
I had verizon for years back in the day. Reliability was exceptional but in the end I left because it was too expensive.

I switched to US Cellular (which uses Verizon's network when roaming) and had great reliability and basically all the perks of Verizon without the price. US Cellular was essentially a cheap back-door way to get Verizon.

But crappy phone selection from US Cellular (and as a CDMA carrier, their unwillingness to activate an 'off network' handset) caused me to switch to T-mobile.

T-mobile has decent reliability, comparatively low prices, great phone selection and intelligent call center customer service reps. The best part for me is the 200mb and unlimited data plans for $10/$30 month.

RE: Bars is bars
By ratbert1 on 2/3/2011 5:20:25 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Bars is bars
By Smilin on 2/3/2011 5:32:57 PM , Rating: 2
Oh trust me... new provider. I'm watching them like a hawk especially after the crap my last provider did.

I think that lawsuit might turn out to be bunk though. Seems like normal encapsulation overhead and retransmission. Time will tell.

Why no LTE Apple
By mcnabney on 2/3/2011 9:49:12 AM , Rating: 2
Once again, Apple could have hit one out of the park by adding real 4G radios to the device. But Steve doesn't think you are ready for that kind of speed yet. He will tell you when you are.

/don't think it will be found on iPhone5 either
//your still not ready

RE: Why no LTE Apple
By theapparition on 2/3/2011 12:10:15 PM , Rating: 2
Most likely it will be on the iPhone5. What Apple faithful will be blessed with in a few months will most likely be the available in white, with more geebees!!!!!

RE: Why no LTE Apple
By FITCamaro on 2/4/2011 12:13:13 PM , Rating: 2
Why sell the drones one device when you can sell them two. They'll make a bunch of money on people switching to iPhones on Verizon and then again when the iPhone5 comes out and all the sheep upgrade.

RE: Why no LTE Apple
By michael2k on 2/4/2011 7:16:02 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't that what everyone is doing, though?

RE: Why no LTE Apple
By dubldwn on 2/3/2011 12:52:06 PM , Rating: 2
I think they're waiting for the 4G radios to be smaller and less power hungry, so they don't have to make too many design concessions.

One Perspective Shows Slower Data?
By bplewis24 on 2/3/2011 12:50:55 PM , Rating: 4
It's definitely misleading to purport that because one person showed slower data results that the network is slower. What about this: ?


By phantom505 on 2/3/2011 4:02:36 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. I never saw the rates on AT&T that all the reports of "fastest data network" claim. In fact, all I got in Phoenix was disconnections data and voice. So it bursts fast and dies, yay!

I wouldn't characterize Verizon as a speed demon, but steady wins the race much of the time. It's been fast enough for me, and I frequently download multiple MB pdfs.

Cons vs Cons
By CoreGamer on 2/3/2011 9:49:25 AM , Rating: 2
It seems there isn't any way to win with this thing.

RE: Cons vs Cons
By MrBlastman on 2/3/2011 11:28:09 AM , Rating: 3
Yes, there is. It is called--use a different phone! ;)

By ThatNewGuy on 2/3/2011 9:59:23 AM , Rating: 2
This thing has the "Three gees". It's better than any other phone on the market.

By BigToque on 2/3/2011 10:13:26 AM , Rating: 2
All the network providers have been doing over the years is trying to figure out how to nickle and dime their customers, so the execs can line their pockets and make their share price climb.

I don't think any of the providers is in a place where they can handle mass adoption of smartphones yet.

If there is a massive spike in sales of the iPhone from existing non-smartphone users, I imagine Verizon will have some network trouble just as AT&T did.

By hechacker1 on 2/3/2011 3:38:38 PM , Rating: 2
I think what reviewers are missing is the fact that the iPhones are capped in their maximum upload and download speeds. Many different reviewers are obtaining very similar maximums.

Honestly it would make sense if Verizon expects an onslaught of new customers.

However, this isn't a new phenomenon. The Droid X is also capped as evidenced by the need for custom ROMs to remove the caps:

The other possibility is that the iPhone CDMA radio just doesn't support the highest speeds, but I doubt that.

As to unlocking the potential, I doubt we'll see that happen as the kernel is locked down more so than some android phones (Droid X included).

By Tony Swash on 2/4/2011 10:27:34 AM , Rating: 2
Verizon announced record sales on the first day of iPhone 4.

At 8:10 p.m. EST yesterday, Verizon ceased online orders of iPhone 4 to existing customers and ended the most successful first day sales in the history of the company.

-- a fixed antenna --
By Conficio on 2/3/2011 2:11:05 PM , Rating: 1
Is it just me or or did the iPhone 4 never have -- a mobile antenna -- or -a changeable antenna --

Should it not say "an antenna fixed" or "the antenna design fixed?"

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