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The Verizon iPhone
As for my personal testing in San Francisco, I found that Verizon’s coverage was more reliable than AT&T’s. My daily commute includes a bus ride through the heart of San Francisco’s Financial District, and I’ve always been frustrated by the poor AT&T data coverage there. The Verizon iPhone was much more robust, allowing me to check Twitter, e-mail, and the Web without frustrating dead zones. That said, in my tests using the Ookla SpeedTest.net app, I found that data-transfer rates were noticeably faster on AT&T’s network. Verizon’s network provided me with an average of 614 kbps download and 507 kbps upload. AT&T, on the other hand, provided me with an average of 2879 kbps down and 1086 up. In other words, on average my AT&T data connections in San Francisco were four times as fast on the download and twice as fast on the upload.
But again, that’s just me. Your city, even your neighborhood, may tell a different story. And for many people, reliability of service (no dropped calls, data when you need it) will trump speed.
At the event announcing this device, Verizon indicated that several of its network-exclusive features (such as VCast videos) would be available in the App Store. I wasn’t able to try any of these out. (But on the positive side, Verizon’s stuff is also not pre-installed on the phone as it is on so many other smartphones. This is Apple’s iPhone, through and through.)
Macworld’s buying advice
For all but the most discriminating user, the new Verizon version of the iPhone 4 is the same iPhone 4 we’ve known for the past seven months. If you’re thinking of buying an iPhone and are unsure about which carrier to choose, you’d be well advised to talk to friends about coverage and dead spots near you, and to compare rate plans. If Verizon’s network serves you better than AT&T’s, you can finally make the move (though you may have to pay a fee to get out of your contract—that’s something would-be AT&T switchers should check before committing to Verizon).
It’s also worth keeping in mind the potential lifespan of this phone. Every year since 2007, Apple has introduced a new iPhone early in the summer. If that pattern follows, an iPhone 5 is less than half a year away. That said, if you waited for the technology world to stand still before buying something, you’d never buy anything. If you want an iPhone and need Verizon’s service, you can now get both.
The bottom line: for the first time, iPhone users in the U.S. now have a choice of carrier. It’s a good thing.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in February 2011 when Apple released 16GB and 32GB iPhone 4 models compatible with Verizon’s CDMA network. In October 2011, Apple pared down its iPhone 4 offerings to a single 8GB model that worked on either GSM or CDMA networks. This review—including its rating—applies to the 8GB iPhone 4 that’s compatible with either Verizon’s or Sprint’s network.
Apple iPhone 4 8GB Black (CDMA, Verizon)
iPhone 4 8GB White (CDMA, Verizon)
Apple iPhone 4 16GB Black (CDMA, Verizon)
iPhone 4 16GB White (CDMA, Verizon)
Apple iPhone 4 32GB Black (CDMA, Verizon)
iPhone 4 32GB White (CDMA, Verizon)