Yesterday, I made a 45-minute phone call from my office.
This seemingly unremarkable statement is remarkable for two reasons. First, I was able to place a call from my office — something which was impossible for me to do a week prior. Second, I made it through the entire 45-minutes without the call being dropped once. Again, this was impossible a week prior.
So what changed? Well, my iPhone changed.
Adopting the CDMA cellular standard does force this iPhone 4 to take one step back—back to the days of the original iPhone, in fact. Unlike AT&T’s 3G network, which can transmit data and voice simultaneously, the Verizon 3G network can only do one or the other.
The Verizon model also introduces a feature that some iPhone power users have been craving but that AT&T hasn’t allowed in the past: the ability to use the phone, for an extra monthly fee, as a Wi-Fi hot spot for Internet connectivity to multiple laptops or other devices. In my tests, this worked fine with Windows and Macintosh laptops, and an iPad. Wednesday afternoon, AT&T countered by announcing a similar Wi-Fi hot spot plan for the iPhone at an unspecified future date.
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.