Starting February 2011, Verizon Wireless will carry the iPhone 4. This ends the iPhone’s long running exclusivity with AT&T, which has frustrated many users who were unwilling or unable to switch due to coverage issues or early termination fees. For the most part, the Verizon iPhone 4 and the AT&T iPhone 4 will be identical. They’ll have the same look and feel, thanks to the mobile operating system at its heart—iOS4—and both will have 3G data speeds and WiFi connectivity. But there will be some subtle differences between these two Apple cell phones.
Voice and Data Network
Verizon and AT&T have a longstanding rivalry in terms of cell phone coverage. AT&T claims to be the fastest, while Verizon claims to be the biggest and most reliable. But in reality, the quality of your signal, reception and data speeds will depend on your location. AT&T may have excellent coverage in some areas where Verizon has spotty coverage and vice versa. Before you switch cell phone companies, take time to check the coverage maps and see if you’ll have good reception in your area.
Calls and the Web
One thing that does differ between the Verizon iPhone and the AT&T iPhone regardless of location: you can’t browse using the mobile data network (3G) while on a call with the Verizon iPhone, as you can on the AT&T iPhone. This is just the nature of Verizon’s CDMA network. You can, however, stay on a call while browsing via WiFi on the iPhone.
Verizon iPhone HotSpot
The Verizon iPhone 4 has a software feature that the AT&T iPhone doesn’t support (without jailbreaking): mobile hotspot sharing. On the Verizon iPhone 4, you can connect to Verizon’s 3G network and then share the connection via Bluetooth or WiFi with five other devices. This is similar to tethering, which allows you to use your AT&T iPhone as a modem, but it’s done wirelessly.
The AT&T iPhone 4 had antenna issues that required a special bumper to fix. This issue only affected some customers. However, this antenna issue has been completely fixed for the Verizon iPhone 4—the Verizon iPhone 4 will not require a bumper or case.
iPhone 4 Apps and Accessories
You cannot use the iPhone 4 that you bought along with your AT&T contract on the Verizon network. However, you can back up your iPhone apps, music and contacts to your computer and then transfer them to your Verizon iPhone using iTunes. Furthermore, most of your iPhone 4 accessories will work fine with your Verizon iPhone 4. There are some slight variations in the dimensions of the Verizon iPhone 4, however, so not all iPhone 4 cases will be compatible with the Verizon iPhone 4.
Verizon has not yet announced pricing for the iPhone 4, but like its other smartphones, it will require a voice plan as well as a data plan. You can expect to pay about the same for a Verizon iPhone contract as an AT&T iPhone. You can get a discount on the Verizon iPhone 4 when beginning or renewing a contact. However, if you’re not yet eligible for a new phone or upgrade, you’ll have to pay full retail price for the iPhone. Visit Apple.com or VerizonWireless.com to see the current pricing for the iPhone 4.