TiPb Asks: How important is simultaneous voice and data?

The Verizon iPhone can't do simultaneous voice and data, something AT&T is quick to point out in their latest commercial. But how important is that to you? Many of us have Wi-Fi at home and at work or at school so it's not an issue but how about when you're out and about? If you're on a call how critical is it that you be able to surf the web, send email or get push notifications? (Or if the call is just deathly boring how much do you need the distraction of the web or online games?)

The original EDGE-only iPhone couldn't do simultaneous voice and data either -- calls would go to voicemail if you were using data. With the Verizon iPhone on CDMA EVDO Rev A you're alerted to a call and can choose to pause data and then can't use data again for the duration of the call. It's more elegant but is it any less frustrating for people who've gotten used to doing it on AT&T?

Vote in the poll above and let us know how you came to your decision in the comments below!

Georgia

Senior Editor at iMore and a practicing therapist specializing in stress and anxiety. She speaks everywhere from conferences to corporations, hosts the ZEN & TECH podcast, and should be followed on Twitter @Georgia_Prime.

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TiPb Asks: How important is simultaneous voice and data?

93 Comments

Ive had a iphone for 3 years and only used voice and data at the same time arpund 5 times, but Ive had many dropped calls. Network is most important

apparently your not a heavy business user, who often takes calls, while at the same time downloading the pdf in the email, to scan it, so you can discuss it while on the call. Just one example of its usefulness

i've never in my life wanted to use data on my phone while i'm talking to someone. the phone up to my face to talk. That's pretty much all i'm doing. i'm sure the results will change a bit as soon verizon people get the phone. they've got the most people and most don't care.

You do realize that most people aren't going to be on a call and want to use data much outside a place that they're sitting down. Not in a car walking, down the street, etc. When people are going to use it is when they are sitting down somewhere, like at their job or at home. All the people that I know that have iPhone or have a work iPhone are advanced, because they have iPhones, and with this advancedness they have this revolution called Wi-Fi that lets you use voice and data at the same time!

I do IT support 24/7 for a public safety organization. I do not have WiFi everywhere. Especially don't consider to vacation in Europe and find an open Wifi. I have had up to two hour phone conversations while being on iTeleport and handling issues. This would have taken 4 times as long if I had to hang up. One hour of that was while at a kids soccer game. I imagine this feature to also be essential for anybody who is in a sales executive function and needs to look up prices while talking to a customer.

yeah but apple isn't releasing an LTE phone until 2012,,,, have fun with no voice and data at the same time until next year

Actually, I am having a blast with no simultaneous voice/data. It is vey rare for he majority of users to require it, and as it is, I would much rather have a better network, and the better network is unanimously Verizon.

I'm on hold enough durring the day that it is pretty important to me. I don't exactly need it, but being able to check facebook while I wait is def. A deciding factor.

It is definatly nice to have. But network is the most important. I don't use it that often, jus once in a while. But network is definatly the most important. Without good service you cant even have one of the two lol

I can honestly not think of a single time I've ever used voice and data simultaneously. Nor can I imagine a need ever coming up for it for me.

The new baseband chip in the verizon iPhone is capable of CDMA 2.0 that can do voice and data at the same time. So something to look out for in future.

"send email or get push notifications?" well...if you can't do that and talk at the same time that's just silly. Guess it depends on what type of work you do or how much time sensitive your communications are. I would hate to have to hang up on someone every time I had to send an email...or wait til my 2 hour Sunday conversation with my grandma to find out I got an important email.

Those on Verizon that believe data access is an absolute must-have already make use of other mobile data solutions that do not revolve around their phone. AT&T spreading FUD.

I'm not on AT&T but I am on a GSM iPhone and I use simultaneous voice and data almost daily. It's absolutely not FUD, it's just more important for some users than others.
If you're on Wi-Fi most of the time, it's meaningless. If you're out in the field and need to talk and check email and the web, it's critical. That's why Georgia is asking the question.

And I'm saying if data access is truly critical, one can also easily make use of mobile data solutions that don't require your phone. I would have a netbook or aircard for a laptop if I absolutely had to have means of doing email, etc. when mobile, and rely on my phone to use as a phone first.

The reason most people use their iphone for data and I can understand why many want to do both voice and data simultaneously, and especially and more importantly as people start to take advantage of the mobile hotspot facility where using a verizon iphone would cause disconnection of all services while you talk on the phone the point you are missing is that it is far more convenient to answer an email on the go by slipping your hand in your pocket and pulling out your iphone and answer it on the go or replying to an email while you discuss it on the phone with the person or another person.
I've used aircards and I've used hotspots for wireless and it's just not the same lugging around a laptop or notebook and having to find somewhere to sit and work.
With the iphone this can all be done as you walk or go round a show. Say you are emailing notes to someone at a show about products and sending photographs of that product and talking to someone or answer calls at the same time. I would love to lug a laptop around. Talking of laptops, the start up time, even from standby is not viable for a busy person where they want to get something dealt with quick.
You really need be constructive with your criticism or comments and not find something negative to say for the sake of saying it.

It's the way Verizon users have had to do it - and still do. All I'm saying is those people who are truly dependent on email, web access while away from their computers will make use of mobile data solutions that don't rely on their phone, because their smartphones can't talk and do data at the same time - it is what it is, and it's not the big deal that AT&T is making over it. Yeah, it's a huge deal to people here - because of the kind of user they are. But to the average Joe 6-Pack, this is really much ado over nothing.

Why carry a laptop or netbook to get emails???
You make no sense. For some voice and data is a must have ( me) and for others not so much....... Hard to understand? I use this feature daily and much more prefer to have only a phone that does it all ( smatphone) then carry a phone, netbook and air card

Rene,
I think what is lost on this issue of simultaneous voice and data is the fact that both Verizon and Sprint don't have simultaneous voice & data, yet they represent over 150 million cellphone users in the US. To a CDMA user, it's hard to see the necessity of simultaneous voice and data, becasue we never had it. There are many business users in that 150 million market. Yet, I haven't read or heard any commentary from Verizon business users wishing they had simulatenous voice and data on their phone. Verizon's VCAST Video service, which allows for watching TV shows on your phone, is the only feature I know that a phone call terminates the use of it. If I get a call while tethering, I can't use the internet while on the phone, but once the call is over, I can resume my tethering no problem. If I am watching a VCAST Video and call interupts it, I have to start over on the video. That can be inconvenient if I am watching a 10-15 minute video.
I think the speed of the network and the simultaneous voice and data are very strong reasons to stay with ATT. But us CDMA users never had an iPhone, so I am excited for the iPhone coming to Verizon. If ATT users want to jump, great, but if not, that's fine too. The Verizon iPhone is for the CDMA user, but because Verizon and ATT are rivals in a highly competitve market, marketing naturally promotes switching. I left ATT for Verizon because in the SF BAy Area, Verizon had better coverage where I used my ATT phone. When you're lost in the hills on windy roads, you appreciate having a phone that works!

Actually it is FUD. Because if simultaneous voice and data is an important feature for you you can setup a $3/mo. Skype unlimited US/Canada account to get that feature on the CDMA iPhone.

That is a terrible solution. Your data needs to be solid in order to use skype. I know verizon has better service but to think everywhere you go has enough to skype reliably is rediculous. As for keiths "users will carry laptops and smart cards", why do you even have a smartphone then? Go buy a Moro razor and save some money of your just going to carry your netbook everywhere.

No less reliable than AT&T's offerings. In the areas AT&T can offer data/voice Verizon is also going to have a strong enough 3G signal to allow Skype use. In areas AT&T can only offer EDGE, Verizon might still be able to offer a reliable data connection but if not they can at least still offer reliable calls.

I use voice and data all the same time all the time. Especially when I'm tethered, I can't afford to loose my Internet connection when a call comes in. I won't consider verizon till lte is on the iPhone on verizon.

I won't consider verizon for nothing, not even is they are the last company in the USA. they sucks, again their customer service sucks. and they can cover overseas not even Puerto Rico.

It's not that important, but it's very convieant. But thats the point of the whole iPhone right? You dont need internet in your pocket, bit it's convieant.

The bigger issue that is being missed is the lack of talk & data while using the personal hotspot. It's easy for people to think about in terms of the current setup, however, in a couple weeks both AT&T and Verizon will have the ability to use a personal hotspot and only one will allow you to use your ipad/laptop while talking on the phone. That is the key thing that people are missing in this debate.

Jailbreak+mywi= currently able to tether wirelessly on my unlimited data plan with no ridiculous charges for limited data
Sent from my iPad wirelessly tethered to my jail broken AT&T iPhone 4=}

Yes, but I'm not sure what that adds to the conversation. You'll be able to do the same thing with Verizon's iPhone as well. However, it will behave the same way, when using mywi on ATT you'll be able to use your laptop/ipad while on a call, and on verizon you won't. It doesn't matter if you're using an "official" hotspot, or jailbroken mywi.

It's a dealbreaker, I'm on a phone call right now as I'm typing this post.
When I'm at work, I only get two 15mins, and a 30min break, and my girlfriend insists that I call her for EACH one, but my breaks are the only time I get to check my email, twitter, TiPb, Giz, Engadget, etc... So being able to talk to her while surfing in a non-wifi environment is a godsend.
I talk and use data on more than 80% of the phone calls I make. I don't have wifi at home, and I'm rarely around wifi.
I really couldn't fathom the thought of having to go to a CDMA device after having my GSM iPhone. I almost lose my mind on the rare events that my phone goes to EDGE.

Simultaneous voice and data is one of those things that you don't think is important until you don't have it. I was on verizon and switched to at&t and will never go back. don't miss that network at all!

Its nice to hav wen u r arguin wth d old lady & u can search for hotel room rates at d same time cuz most likely ur stayn some where else dat night. :)

As someone else who switched from VZW to ATT I love the voice+data rather than either/or. I travel for my work and have found no reason at all to miss the Verizon network, even in NYC (where my Droid had all the same problems the iphone owners love to complain about).

Are you referring to not having access to data? like .03Mbps/DL and .05Mbps/UL speeds in the middle of Manhattan? Some good simultaneous voice and data on ATT does for me.

I'm on AT&T edge only area so I never get to use data while on a call unless on wifi. So I it won't bother me

It's definately a nice have, but not something I base my decision on. I was with AT&T, but being able to do voice & data at the same time doesn't do any good when you don't have a signal to do either one with, and that was my issue more often than not with the AT&T iPhone. I have had zero problems with Verizon in the 8 months since I left AT&T for Verizon. I have good signal everywhere and now I can do either voice or data when I couldn't do either before. During my business use it is not an issue, as I am either in the office, which has WiFi everywhere on campus, or home, which also has WiFi. When I am not at either, there's a good chance I am in the car where I shouldn't be doing data anyway.

I think it's funny those who say not important since I have wifi. In that case what's the big deal about cutting the unlimited data plans to a 2gb limits. or 200 mb. Most people have wii at home, work, and school. When do younactuallu use 3G? Working out? Taking a dump in a public bathroom?

Why is it that the Blackberry, which has been the go to device for years, on Verizon has no voice/data and thats not an issue? If the argument is that its needed because of business use, then what about the blackberry? How do they manage? On wifi? Then whats the difference with the iPhone doing the same thing? Remember that if your phone cant make a simple call on the network that you are using (as is a big case with ATT) then what good does voice/data do for you? If you cant make a call, then you're only doing one thing at a time anyway.

I guess for some it is a deal breaker not being able to use data while using voice but I don't use it, even when I am using the wireless networking for data I don't do it.
I am not a great multitasker and it would worry me that I would accidentally hang up on the person I was talking to LOL. I've done that just trying to look up a phone number for the person I was talking to on a Blackberry and know that I could easily screw it up trying to do multiple things at the same time on the iphone.

In my line of work and life in general, I constantly need to be able to make/receive calls while using GPS or reading my work email. I'm in the East Bay Area where I find all 4 major carriers basically equal in coverage, so AT&T is a good choice for me. I used to be with VZ, but in my experience, it doesn't work that well in my own home. So I go with what's best for me.

i really need it, because I tether my laptop with my iPhone, at the same time i used my whatsapp,beejive messenger and facebook, and also i'm in a phone call. of course using my att.
Trust me having the iphone and not be able to talk and surf at the same time, is like having a ferrari in cuba. (no highways to squeeze the power).
No offense but att is the best in that. and i don't issues with drop calls.

Well me and my girl went to the apple store this morning and got her a new iphone 4 for verizon. The data speeds are dramatically slower then mine. It takes longer to connect to a call. And when see was on a call she could not connect to google maps. Verizons network is really no better then at&t where we live. Same connection same signal bars. Other then this she is happy for the most part she likes it better then her android phone she had.

Technically, according to AT&T, we already have 4G phones. The iPhone 4 as well as the 3GS has hspa+ connectivity. Granted the speeds are only up to 7.2 mbs download which isn't 4G.

Also when we go over seas this summer her phone is useless. Thank god I have no problems with my AT&T iphone.

Granted, if you have wifi, it's a non-issue. And granted, once the next generation comes along, it won't matter. But for now, if you're in an area with good ATT coverage, those occasions when wifi isn't available makes this a big enough issue for me that it would be the deciding factor. I use both simultaneously "in the field" fairly often and would miss it. I suppose it's one of those things you don't miss if you've never had it but would hate to lose if you do.

People don't realize the importance of it till they actually have it. I never had it till I got the iPhone and I must say I don't know how I did without it. I'm not in the business profession per say but I do use the simultaneous voice and data a lot. I love it and it is great being able to surf the net etc. while talking and what not. I'll never go back to a phone that can do both.

I used to call people with Bluetooths in their ears douche bags. But, when I discovered simultaneous voice and data I had to buy one. Now I no longer need a laptop on the go. Couldn't live without it (but I look like a douche) :)

It's important once you use it and see how handy it is. For example, to try and get tickets to a concert I was on the phone with ticketmaster while also using the website to improve my chances to get tickets. And that's just only one way I use it.

Now its pro iPhone people arguing with pro iPhone people about the iPhone over the network, I'm and iPhone user from day one and its been one of the better all around phones I have had and I will stick with ATT because I have not ever had any problem and I never use my phone simultaneous. It just sounds like the people on this blog site just like to argue.

It's not important to Verizon becaus they have never had it. You can't miss what you haven't had. AT&T customers have always had it, so for most it's a need or nice to have when needed.
I would like to see a poll of AT&T switchers who no longer have the feature. Dothey wish they still had it. I think that would be a better poll.

I don't use it every day but I have used it quite a bit. If I was to switch to Verizon I would miss it. It's very very convenient for those times it's needed.
For that reason I would not switch. I am starting to think about switching when the iPhone is LTE capable. I don't have bad service BUT Verizons service is better for most of the places I venture to here in Las Vegas.

What good is simultaneous voice and data for AT&T when you can't even get a signal. Kind of useless if you ask me given that AT&T is known for poor signal and dropped calls. Same thing with the speed.

You are correct that simultaneous voice/data doesn't matter if you can't get dependable service. But for those of us who do have dependable ATT service -- and many do -- it's enough to sway one's opinion on which carrier to use. Believe me, you wouldn't want to give it up if you got accustomed to having it.

Exactly. I use it at work all the time. I can't be like: "I'll call you right back." "hello! Ooooh. Sh|t. I'll call you back again!"

Simultaneous voice and data is a deal breaker for me.. It all comes down to the individual. If you use verizon, iphone or not. It's obviously not important to you. I don't care about talking and looking at sites. It's about other things like being able to talk and VNC, SSH, receive email, FTP, etc..

i really need it, because I tether my laptop with my iPhone, at the same time i used my whatsapp,beejive messenger and facebook, and also i’m in a phone call. of course using my iPhone.
Trust me having the iPhone and not be able to talk and surf at the same time, is like having a ferrari in cuba. (no highways to squeeze the power).
No offense but att is the best in that. and i don’t have issues with drop calls.

Ok honestly it's critical for business users and very social people all this bull**** about that I don't talk and use the Internet and it's stupid, is because probably uou really don't need to, if your using your phone with headphones and someone asks you a question that needs data you would have to Hang up and call back , in the business world that means someone else gets the job.

Are you jealous because you don't have it.. i'm not a business man, i'm just an average joe, and i like to have it, i do use it a lot.
I get a lot whatsapp mesages, beejive, mms, emails, facebook, i do use google,gps, etc. even when i do 6 phone calls at the same time. my point is, you don't have to be a business person to have that benefit of voice and data at the same time..

by the way dude having the iPhone without that, is like having a Ferrari in the bolivian mountain, (there is not highway to do top speed). Sorry for your luck chuck.. and is a fact jack.

My iPhone (AT&T) is my only phone for work/home. Just today while on a conference call sitting outside on my deck someone asked for me to check out an email he was going to send to the rest of the team. I often use data/voice at the same time, so this is a big deal for me.

In my state, most of what AT&T provides us is EDGE, not 3G. The "Surf & Talk" only works on Wi-Fi or 3G. It does not work if you are on EDGE. Look at a coverage map, and see how many people on AT&T do not have 3G. Their are a huge number of us who are on EDGE and can't use data while on a phone call anyway. AT&T's whole "Surf & Talk" argument is very deceptive.

Back in the days of dial-up, I had to choose between voice or data on the landline. Never went back after I had DSL 12 years ago and could do both simultaneously. Why would I want to go back to 1999 with my smartphone? That would be a dumbphone, IMO.

I can't even read these comments anymore! I use voice/data at the same time EVERYDAY. I couldn't even begin to list the uses for it, there's too many. I got the iPhone for a reason, to use the internet (or internet connection required apps) and talk on the phone at the same time while on the go. Its a smartphone for a reason! To have a Verizon iPhone is like having half an iPhone, you cant fully use it! Your just shooting yourself in the foot. Plus, ATT has faster 3G...

Then you keep your ATT iphone. I've had verizon for four years and have never lost a deal or lost a sales opportunity because I didn't have both at the same time. Free wifi is so readily available it's not even nearly the issue all you att fags make it out to be.

AT&T has voice + data, faster 3G.. i agree to all your points.. but with AT&T the iPhone is just not a phone because its unable to make phone calls 70% of the times.

In my state, most of what AT&T provides us is EDGE, not 3G. The “Surf & Talk” only works on Wi-Fi or 3G. It does not work if you are on EDGE. Look at a coverage map, and see how many people on AT&T do not have 3G. Their are a huge number of us who are on EDGE and can’t use data while on a phone call anyway. AT&T’s whole “Surf & Talk” argument is very deceptive. AMEN

Oh yeah, when I'm on the phone for about 5 minutes I NEED TO BE ON THE WEB. ITS SO IMPORTANT I HAVE TO CHECK OUT THE WORLD'S GREATEST SITE TIPB JFGSG;KDFJSG (sarcasmgate)

Alot of people use it with maps to get help finding each other. Very big reason to have data/voice

For the AT&T customers who don't have 3G towers anywhere near them, such as myself, we have never had the advantage of simultaneous voice and data. We are still stuck on EDGE. A Verizon Iphone has the advantage of faster data speeds and better coverage over an AT&T phone that only can connect on EDGE. I can't wait to switch. I won't miss simultaneous voice and data, because I have never had it thanks to the meager 3G coverage AT&T offers.

Since work provides me with a mifi card and edge is all that is available to me where I work this is gonna work out great for me personally.
I can ditch my Verizon phone that I have needed to carry to assure the ability to make a call and have voice and data with my Verizon iPhone and mifi card. The whole argument is situational per individual.

I've used voice/data a few times simultaneously and it was pretty helpful. Before I would obviously have to Bangui and keep calling the other person back. I use a Bluetooth when I'm on a call so it is pretty convient at times.

For me, it's major. I'm always on a call and using the internet at the same time to handle some sort of task or issue. I think that it's real dumb not to have it. It's a feature that should come standard on any network technology.

To me, it's not important because AT&T does not offer 3G service where I live. It's EDGE only, so it's not like I can even surf and talk as is. In addition, I'm on a wifi connection the majority of the time I'm surfing--only cause AT&T can't seem to make EDGE work even.
I can't wait for my Verizon iPhone. At least they have 3G where AT&T doesn't! I don't care about speed, I just want the Internet to work!

It's one of those "I didn't know how much I rely on it until I don't have it" things. I'm frequently on long phone calls (very very few dropped calls, btw) and frequently find myself using data while on the call.
Another difference is long text messages.. CDMA chops them up, GSM is smart enough to put them back together.

@erin
"Another difference is long text messages.. CDMA chops them up, GSM is smart enough to put them back together."
You are highly mistaken. Have you ever even used CDMA? I had an old Audiovox phone back in the analog/digital hybrid days that sent the message in one fell swoop. Other phones wout break them into multiple messages. My current Android device sends one long message. Blackberries send long messages over BBM but breaks them up during SMS...
Are you getting it? It's dependent on the phone, not the network technology.
It's called MMS and EMS, multimedia messaging and enhanced messaging. SMS is limited to 160 characters, MMS can hold 1000 plus media and EMS is older but is what you are referring to as chopped up messages. CDMA is "smart enough" to do them all.