Verizon boasts of being "America's largest and most reliable network" and I've been putting that claim to the test. I've been comparing reception, voice quality, how quickly voice calls are placed, and messaging speeds with AT&T's iPhone. To see my results, follow along after the break!
First off, it's important to note that my testing took place in Denver, CO. Networks vary depending on location, so someone in a different parts of the country may obtain different results.
I must be going to all the wrong places, because I have yet to find a place where Verizon and AT&T both have 5 bars at the same time. One of networks seems to always have 1 or 2 bars more than the other and it's an even split between who has more bars more often. So, in my experience, AT&T does not have "more bars in more places", but only in some places.
With that said, I have not had a single dropped call on the Verizon iPhone 4 - not even a skip.
The dreaded 1xRTT
However, Verizon is not immune to that dreaded little circle that, on AT&T's GSM network, indicates GPRS. In fact, minutes after purchasing the Verizon iPhone 4 from the Apple Store, Ally called my AT&T iPhone 4 as I was leaving the parking garage. As you likely guessed, the call dropped. I instinctively grabbed the Verizon iPhone to check the reception, and there it was - the circle! But what exactly does this mean on Verizon's CDMA network?
When that ugly little circle appears on a Verizon iPhone, it is indicating a connection to 1xRTT which is basically CDMA's version of GPRS. According to Wikipedia, it supports packet data speeds of up to 153 kbps with real world data transmission averaging 60–100 kbps. It's probably not even worth trying to surf the web when connected to 1xRTT because of how painfully slow it is.
I've heard many people praise Verizon for their superior voice quality, but I honestly didn't notice a difference. Ally had the same experience; neither one of use could differentiate the voice quality between Verizon and AT&T iPhone 4's.
Making a voice call
You know how there is always a pause between the moment you place a phone call and when you hear the ringing tone? Well, this pause is consistently shorter on Verizon's iPhone. When placing the same phone call (regardless of network) on both iPhones at the exact same time, the AT&T iPhone was always sent strait to voicemail while Verizon's iPhone went through with the call. To see the comparison in action, check out the video above.
The last thing I tested was sending SMS and MMS messages. In every instance, the Verizon iPhone sent out SMS messages faster than AT&T's iPhone. We only talking a matter of seconds, however; so in the grand scheme, it's not that big of difference. With MMS, Verizon usually sent the message quicker than AT&T, but as you can see in the above video, AT&T did win that race once.
Overall, I do agree that Verizon provides the iPhone 4 with a more reliable network in Denver, CO; however, AT&T isn't far behind. AT&T's network is very solid here and I generally only get dropped calls when in situations like in a parking garage. The best advice I can give is that before deciding which network to purchase your iPhone 4 with, ask around. Find out the reputations of the the networks in your area.