Verizon iPhone: What you'll gain and what you'll give up

Verizon rumors have come to a boil over the past few weeks.  Not only are we hearing Verizon rumors from reputable sources like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, we've heard from Verizon on the fact that they're trying to find a way to integrate simultaneous voice and data into their network.  Some analysts may say this is to prepare for the launch of an iPhone on Verizon.

Whether or not you'd like to leave AT&T, we've got to face the fact that Verizon has its down sides too (aside from Apple and Verizon battling out their obsessive needs for control). One of those being that pesky simultaneous voice and data issue. 

Sprint and Verizon both use a technology referred to as CDMA with the accompanying EVDO rev A data, while AT&T and T-Mobile use a technology referred to as GSM with EDGE and now HSPA for data.  While CDMA may have better voice quality, none of the carriers have (yet) rolled out EVDO rev B which supports simultaneous voice and data, or committed to an EVDO rev A workaround to enable it with the current technology. They're all moving to LTE anyway, so it simply may not have been a priority.

What does this mean for the end user?  It means you can't update your Facebook status, check your e-mail, or look something up on the web while on a phone call.  Verizon has tried to downplay this in the past by saying simultaneous voice and data isn't all that important.  Many business users may disagree.  There's been numerous times I've went to look something up for a client while on the phone.  Having to hang up with them in order to do that would become highly annoying for many business users who have become accustomed to being able to have that functionality.

Now it appears Verizon is willing to do something about it.  No exact details have been given except for the fact that they are working on a solution that would offer simultaneous voice and data on their existing network.  No firm date has been thrown out except that it should be available as of early next year.

One of things holding me back from Verizon is the fact that I can't browse and talk. CDMA is also a technology that isn't supported worldwide.  I like knowing that if I choose to unlock my phone or buy an unlocked version, I can pop a foreign SIM in my phone and know it'll work in almost every country since GSM has become a worldwide standard.  If Verizon makes the iPhone a world phone like they have with some Blackberries, I'd be more apt to set that concern aside.

Are any of these obstacles a big deal to you guys? Would Verizon solving these problems make you more apt to jump from the Death Star to Big Red? Let us know in the comments!

Footnote: 

Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Verizon iPhone: What you'll gain and what you'll give up

62 Comments

except you can do all of that stuff if you have wifi. Just use your spouses droid as a mobile hotspot and you're all set even when you're out and about. :)

@Durangojim
and what about when you're not with your spouse or not near a hotspot? don't know about you, but i don't have my spouse with me in business meetings and when i'm at work, when i need simultaneous voice and data the most ;)

CDMA does not have better voice quality than 3G UMTS. Never has been true. In fact, in many large cities, Verizon uses the EVRC-B CODEC for voice, which is substantially more compressed and terrible sounding than AMR-HR on GSM.

@Mikey
In my experience (at least in my area), CDMA has always has overall better penetration when it comes to voice calls. There's a substantial difference.

Nope, I agree with Mikey. CDMA call quality SUCKS! I had a Moto Droid and horrible voice quality was the MAIN reason I cancelled my contract prematurely. There was no since in having a Verizon phone if I had to hang up with clients and call them back on my AT&T phone. Sometimes I would hang up because they sounded bad and sometimes they would specifically ask... "is there another phone you can call me back from?"

Hmm, but didn't people say they don't use that much data since majority of the time they are on wifi? I've been with Sprint and I agree, majority of the time, I'm on wifi both with home/work. When I turned off wifi to use EVDO only (darn sprint making me pay $10 premium data, you bet I'll make use of it) I find I go about 5-6GB >.<

@Greg Foster
you guys must live in terrible or over-saturated CDMA areas, in our area, CDMA call quality is almost always superior. And I'm not in a tiny little area either, I'm in the Chicago area....

Even though it would be inconvenient to not be able to "talk & surf" simultaneously, I'm so upset with AT&T (dropped calls, inability/unwillingness to fix the fact that i have zero bars in my home, poor customer service, etc.) that I would make the switch to VZW regardless of the limitation. That being said, if it turns out that other features presently available on AT&T would not be supported on VZW, I would think twice. But if the only issue was simultaneous "talk & surf," goodbye AT&T.

The ability to talk and websurf simultaneously is non-negotiable! But Verizon by itself is THE BIGGEST REASON NOT TO SWITCH!!!

One of the things that drove me insane with CDMA on a Verizon Treo 650 was that conference calls and multiple calls are handed. If you have 3 or more people on the phone at the same time, you cannot end a call with one of the parties. You had to ask one of the callers to hang up or end the conference call.
One consequence of this feature is that you can find yourself in voicemail + callback limbo. You call someone, they don't pick up in time and you're dumped to voicemail. The callee sees that they've missed a call and call back. Thus, you can have 2 calls on at the same time. You can answer the callee and leave a long silent voice mail or hang-up both and call back. Insanity!
And yeah, I had a lot of dropped calls with my Treo 650, and the volume was really low.
Really, your expectations would be too high if you expect great service from wireless carriers. Verizon is going to be expensive. I really don't have any doubts whatsoever about that.

It would be very hard to give up simultaneous talking and data. I can't tell you how many times I've been on a call when an e-mail relevant to that call has come in during the call. My wife has a Verizon BlackBerry, and it's a pain that she doesn't have that feature.
Naïvely, I had not realized that was a network situation (I thought it was an iPhone feature, not an AT&T feature). I don't have the huge AT&T problems others have (including friends of mine -- I realize it's a legit issue, it's just not my issue), so this might be a Verizon deal breaker for me.

CDMA is the last remnant of our eclectic American taste when everyone else chose to go GSM and Metric system.
It is similar to insisting using right-hand drive when everyone chose to have left-hand drive just be different.

I really want to see a CDMA iPhone to find out once and for all if the call issues (mostly dropped calls) are AT&T or Apple's problem. It would be quite ironic to see all of this happen again on Verizon.

Verizon's network, whether it is because of CDMA having an inherently better with the split voice/data channels or just because Verizon puts more effort into maintaining their network, has better call quality and better call stability. There have been numerous times I've been out in areas, especially rural areas, where even Verizon signal coverage was bouncing between 0-2 bars and still able to carry on a clear and stable phone conversation. I guess if Verizon is going to introduce VoiP system over their data channel for the iPhone the question will finally be answered of whether Verizon actually maintains a better network or if CDMA simply offers better call stability with the split channels. If the answer is the latter, hopefully they keep enough control to force Apple to give users the options in Settings to select either the 1x channel or the voice over the EVDO because to me call stability trumps being able to surf while on a phone call.

No voice and data at the same time is the dealbreaker. There is absolutely no way I could do my work with out it. Also the possibility that it wouldn't work all the time over seas is another deal breaker. I use AT&T because of it's international capabilities and the fact I can access important information about my client whilst on the phone with them. I would LOVE to switch over to Verizon, however until I get both international in all countries and I can receive data while on the phone, I will stick with AT&T

I never used the talking and web stuff till recently and I must say I love being able to do this now. I always said it was pointless really but after talking on the phone to a relative and checking my email/sending emails and reading a quick news post I said to myself that I need this feature now!

I have found I have been getting more dropped calls since At&t enable voice+data. In order to get a more reliable call, At&t suggested I turn of 3G data on my iPhone since I will be using a different part of the tower. I get much better signal strength when I do this. Hopefully Verizon can figure out the correct way to implement voice+data.

I enjoy just sitting back and listening to all the speculation about if or when the iPhone is going to Verizon. Personally, it makes no difference to me since I'll be sticking with ATT regardless. I've been with them and their predecessors since my first cell phone in the early '90s, and I've never had an issue with them. Call and data quality are both fine. The only thing that would concern me would be if ATT stopped carrying the iPhone.

I'd have to be on the Big V side this go round.
I have simultaneous voice/data. You want to know how often I use it? Never.
You and a few others say if you're in a business meeting or talking to a client, you'll need it.
Well 9 times out of 10...if you're talking to a client, you'll be at home or work. I'm SURE any normal person by now has wifi. If not, that's respectable. But now we get to the next point...home or work. Im' sure you have your computer (or that jazzy iPad/Tab that you felt was the missing link between phone and laptop).
So would it really be THAT hard to either connect to a wifi connection or computer to get faster speed than it would to be on a phone's network looking up something?
Simultaneous voice/data is just a major publicity stunt. If it was really THAT big of a deal...it would've been put out there...Verizon and Sprint wouldn't have any customers...and AT&T and T-Mobile would be the big dogs.

They should just do what a couple carriers did here in Canada (Bell and Telus), and setup a parallel GSM network. I know we're a lot smaller here, but they managed to do this in Canada on a huge scale, and now every carrier (pretty much) has the iPhone. Pretty big win for the consumer.
Verizon sticking with CDMA and finding some way to do voice + data at the same time doesn't solve the problem of CDMA being internationally unpopular. You'd still end up with an iPhone that won't work in many places.

@MiGs
I've had a lot of issues with call quality on AT&T lately. They eventually gave in and gave me a free microcell for home. At work I'm in 3G, around town I've got good service, I USED to have impeccable service at home until about 3 months ago. They're integrating Centennial Towers in my area like crazy and it's caused the service to take a huge crap in many areas. At home was one affected area. I'm lucky to get 1 bar of Edge (terrible huh?), so they gave me a microcell. I'm happy for now.

talk, surf and text at the same time.. and also, to my puerto rican friends, verizon, suck in puerto rico, and also you have to call them and let them know you are going to visit the island..
Ihate VERIZON. they always envi att because they have de iPhone.

I think the biggest problem for no voice/data at the same time is missed calls. If I'm watching a video stream or doing something that requires a continuous data connection, all my calls during that time are going to go straight to voice mail... I consider that a big problem...

Here are my concerns: What problems will Verizon have with the iPhone being on it's network. AT&T has worked out most of their trouble with the iPhone. And would Verizon get rid of their unlimited data plan for new subscribers like AT&T has.

@Greg
Actually it's the opposite. Calls take priority on Verizon so if you're streaming your stream will be inturrupted if you receive a call.
@iDavey "If it was really THAT big of a deal…it would’ve been put out there…Verizon and Sprint wouldn’t have any customers…and AT&T and T-Mobile would be the big dogs."
Agreed. If Apple hadn't created the iPhone and went exclusive with AT&T, they'd probably be in similar shape right now as T-Mobile.

@Frank, Verizon CDMA phones can not do simultaneous voice + data, it isn't speculation. The only way voice + Data works at the same time currently is either using wifi, or if you're on Sprint using 4G/WiMax, unless you're referring to the iphone coming to Verizon? A lot of evidence is in place for it right now so this discussion kind of makes sense.
@Sarah Verizon going tiered has been rumored for some time now. I think their LTE service is definitely going to be tiered and it makes sense for 3G to be as well with the influx of devices using data plans. It'll cut bills for light users and for heavy users it'll raise their bills. Verizon wins either way. If they didn't have the best coverage in my area (I'm in and out of NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD, etc) I wouldn't have 'em. They are very expensive already.

@Greg - Your calls will interrupt your data connection and your phone will ring. Otherwise Verizon would be up the creek with any smartphone they sell.

This is definitely not a problem for me since the amount of time I spend using data via 3g while on a call is very small. I always have wifi. AT&T is absolutely terrible in this area and are getting worse (not better). I will be making the jump to Verizon on the exact same day it becomes available. I will line up and wait if I have to.

Is this really that big of deal? I've had Verizon for 9 years and it has only come up a handful of times that I wished I could get both data and voice. Not a deal breaker for me.
Why does everyone say Verizon is expensive. I looked at switching to ATT and the plans were identical (except for rollover). ATT and Verizon have almost the exact same pricing. If Verizon is expensive, then ATT is expensive.

Hopefully with Verizon adding the IPhone, users will find out Droid is an operating system and not a phone. Huge misconception in the public on this issue.

I have yet to find a compatible CDMA source outside of the US. THAT's the deal breaker for me. If I'm going to have a phone, it must work outside of the US. AT&T does, VZW doesn't. 'Course, with Skype and the like, isn't going to matter much for long, eh? ;)

I love being on a call and not having to stop what I'm doing. I've given directions to my friends on tmo at a stoplight and didn't have to end the call while finding the directions for her. This is the main reason I love ATT. I couldn't have a phone that couldn't multitask this way.

You know, there have been very few times I've used the simultaneous voice/data advantage with GSM in the 2+ years I've had an iPhone. I don't know if the average consumer would care if Verizon doesn't have that advantage.

@Greg,
I don't believe that is the case. If a call comes in, Voice takes priority and the data will stop. The only issue is that voice and data cannot work concurrently.

Simultaneous voice and data would be a dealbreaker for me. I use it ALL THE TIME, especially because I'm on the go a lot.

From what I've read, the new iphones will be dual mode with a CDMA/GSM combo chip inside. This way Apple only has to make one iphone for everyone. Given that, I would say it would probably have a SIM slot that could be used for world use on the Verizon model.

I have both carriers and I must say AT&T is 3 million times better. I love the fact that I can surf the web, do emails,and text while o. A call especially the boring calls that seem to drag on I can watch a movie and pretend to listen :) . Verizon my god they are over priced and they charge hidden fee's and let's not forget the eta fee, they don't have true 3G speeds their Evdo is compairable to EDGE as a matter of fact they do t even have true 3G lol. I would love to see Verizon "the nations largest network" handle the iPhone clogging up their network it's taken AT&T awhile to be able to handle the iPhone, don't get me wrong I love my ip4 but iPhones are network hogs there is no question about it I also hope that vzw dies get it because it will clear up AT&T's network and apple and AT&T can work on the next iPhone while vzw is dealing with upset customers that are pissed because they thought it was the iPhone that allowed true voice+data at the same time. Plus to be honest with vzw passing on the first iPhone and the control freaks they are apple will pull their pants down and say kiss my ass and we'll think about gracing your carrier with our products with no restrictions.

First of all verizon sux ass they say they have so called best service fact is it cuts out everywhere my girlfriend has verizon and i have att and shes always using my iphone cuz her droid sux ass and another thing if verizon thinks its going to stamp their gay name all over the iphone like all there others which ive seen stamped on at least 3 times like they dont want u to forget what crappy service your using apple wont allow that att not one dropped call yet for 6 years im in the cleveland area

GSM does have better voice quality and battery life than CDMA. Also, building penetration depends on the frequency. Lower freqs (700-800MHz) penetrate better. AT&T rolled out some new 800MHz in my area and I can tell you many times I get far superior signal to the folks on Verizon. Coverage and signal quality always depend on your location. It sounds like Verizon might have better service where you are in Chicago, but it's exactly the opposite in other places. Location, location, location. Still, besides the simultaneous voice and data thing, and the international limitations, GSM is the better technology. CDMA looks good on paper, but usually sounds worse and burns through batteries in the real-world. The only advantage Verizon has is broader coverage, but if you're in a good AT&T area there's no contest.

Verizon has no need to downplay anything. I've owned every version of the iPhone since it was released and have used that option once. As far as voice quality, all I know is I'm the one constantly dropping calls and being told my voice is fading in and out. I've never had Verizon but I find it hard to believe JD Powers and Associates and Consumer Reports are both wrong.

I was on Verizon for 4 years. Outside my current building is a tower of theirs and I couldn't get a signal 3/4's of the time. All day I'd drop calls while all the AT&T people were talking all the time. I called VZW up and complained about it and finally they said they weren't providing the service I was paying for and let me lose without any ETF fee's and I didn't need to pay my final bill. The lady even helped port my numbers over to AT&T that night for my entire family.

They are rolling out LTE this year, so why are we even talking about CDMA? Yes, I know LTE won't be nationwide by Q1 2011, but it will be in most major cities.

iDavey, simultaneous voice and data is not a publicity stunt. I totally get that it's not terribly relevant to your life, but it is to mine. I work in television, not only does the studio where I most often work not have wifi, but I'm often on location where one could not expect wifi. Recently, my father was having surgery, and I was in the hospital waiting room for many hours on three separate days. Again, no wifi, but I got a hell of a lot done there. I would not have felt free to be on the phone had I not been confident that my e-mails would come in regardless.
Clearly, there's no one feature that's the most important to everybody, and since I happen to live and work where there is almost always a strong AT&T signal (I know others do not have that luxury), I would not switch to Verizon (my old carrier, before the iPhone) if it could not do voice and data at the same time. Just my choice for my life. I don't expect anybody else to have the same life as me, so choose what suits you.

Incidentally, a good friend of mine has a Blackberry (Verizon, I think) and a regular old flip cell phone. Why? Because that's how she gets simultaneous voice and data! Seems a bulky and costly solution to me (but then, I don't carry a purse).

Last I heard, it was more important to make and maintain a phone call than worrying about having data while on a call.

I find it funny how everyone is speculating. Personally though I'm pretty sure AT&T knows that Verizon is getting the iPhone. Did anybody besides me get the booklet in the mail from AT&T stating the "Top 10 reasons iPhone works best on AT&T?" If so what was your first thought on that. Mine was why are they sending this out if Verizon ISN'T getting the iPhone. It only makes sense if they are getting it.

I will switch to Verizon the VERY day that it becomes available. Simultaneous voice and data sound cool, but I've had a 3GS for a year and a half now and used it twice. And both of those occasions, it wouldn't have been a big deal to hang up and send the email or look up something later. As for travel, I would be SHOCKED if this iPhone wasn't a world edition. I travel far more domestically than internationally anyway. It's that travel that drives me nuts with AT&T. My phone barely gets by where I live. When I go to California, or pretty much anywhere on the east coast the service is horrible. I can't even get a call let alone look up data at the same time.

I will stick with AT&T. I've had few issues with the service and have no compelling need to switch. That said, I'm constantly talking and using the Web on my iPhone. In my case, that would be a feature I would miss.

I've always found these 2 issues to be a dealbreaker. I will be staying with AT&T regardless of a new Verizon phone. I would however love to have a white iPhone 4.

I could care less if I can't talk and surf at the same time. I will be the first in line when Verizon sells the iPhone......PEACE OUT SPRINT

Just release it on all carriers so that anyone can get the phone without having to switch carriers. A winning situation for consumers, Apple and the carriers.

At first, I didn't really care about talking & browsing. And boy was I wrong! It actually makes your life much easier. It's a really cool feature :) so I don't know what the heck Verizon is talking about? They must be jealous! Ofcourse. Ahaha.

I always find myself using data and voice at the same time and couldnt live without. And with the only signal issues I have being at the major theme parks I'm more then happy with AT&T in Orlando.

12 months ago I would have jumped on the Verizon train. Today.....no way. Pay an early termination fee to sit around and wait for Verizon to figure out how to enable customers to talk and surf at the same time. What have they been doing? I have lowered my expectations with ALL wireless providers. A T&t was really bad at one point, but they are actively trying to improve service. I think that's really important in the grand scheme of things.

I would never ever go back to Verizon for anything. Their coverage here sucks (AT&T is fine, so is T-Mobile) and their billing is ridiculous. Also more expensive.
SF & NY aren't the entire AT&T network. Verizon is no white knight either. Besides, there are large CDMA carriers in India & China. And these are still more unsubstantiated rumors by FINANCIAL analysts once again. They have been wrong every time before.
It's not official until Steve Jobs says it is.

Key note, Verizon is moving to LTE which means they will have 3G CDMA and 4G LTE technology available simultaneously in the future. May not impact the first iphone that comes out on VZW but future releases should have full 4G support on a 'more complete' network than AT&T.