Hands on: When to choose Verizon's iPhone 4 over AT&T's
Computerworld's tests of the new Verizon iPhone 4 are mostly positive, especially with regard to signal strength
Speaking of throughput, we used the Speedtest.net iPhone app to measure the performance of the iPhone 4 on both AT&T and Verizon networks. We ran the test several times on the two phones simultaneously. Both phones were showing five bars.
Speedtest.net median scores
We also measured ping times; Verizon, at 190ms, was faster than AT&T's 301ms.
The real-world download measure is the most important metric. Granted, throughput can vary greatly and is affected by a lot of variables. But this snapshot in time and location showed AT&T with a roughly 2.5-times advantage, a significant difference.
Now that the Verizon iPhone 4 is generally available -- along with Verizon's voice, text and data plans -- it's easy to compare what your monthly bill will look like. For 400 minutes of voice calls, unlimited texting and unlimited data (or 2GB data for newer AT&T customers), plus an estimated $10 for fees, figure around $100 per month with either carrier.
AT&T makes it easier to reduce service levels to save money, but its bill is also more confusing, and there's little you can change yourself on their Web site.
The "death grip" thing is a real problem, but any iPhone 4 case, such as the unobtrusive Snap Case ($35) from Incase, handles that issue. (Steer clear of Apple's iPhone 4 Bumper case, though; it's clunky.)
I currently own an AT&T iPhone 4, and I don't experience dropped calls at all in the Boston area; I did have that problem with some earlier iPhone models. That improvement has made me a pretty happy iPhone 4 user. Given that, plus the clear speed advantage and the fact that AT&T (but not Verizon) lets you surf while you're on the phone, and a case can be made that the AT&T iPhone 4 is preferable. I've decided to stick with AT&T, at least until my contract expires.
But for anyone in one of AT&T's oversaturated markets, like New York City or San Francisco (you know who you are), the Verizon iPhone is the better of the two. [InfoWorld's informal tests of the Verizon iPhone in San Francisco confirm that its signal is more reliable there than AT&T's iPhone and iPad signals are. --Ed.]
The bottom line: The newest version of the iPhone 4 is slightly improved because of its antenna design, and you're going to love the connection strength and reliability. If you've been hankering for an iPhone but have refused to go with AT&T -- and don't want to wait for the upcoming iPhone 5 -- the Verizon iPhone 4 is the clear choice.