Verizon iPhone 4 vs AT&T iPhone 4 -- Fight!


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The Verizon iPhone 4 and the AT&T iPhone look almost identical at first glance. There are, however, subtle differences between the two model's hardware and software. The antenna band on the Verizon variant has been redesigned for CDMA and iOS 4.2.6 adds hotspot connectivity for Verizon users. Click through for a quick comparison and photo gallery.

What's in the box?

The Verizon iPhone 4 is pretty much the same deal as the AT&T iPhone 4. You'll get the standard Apple headphones, the wall adapter, a sync cable, and your manuals. The only difference is really the phone and the back of the box.

The back of the box simply specifies whether or not the phone is Verizon or AT&T. Other than that, everything should be the same. Oh let's not forget that you won't get a handy dandy micro-SIM removal tool, since CDMA phones don't use them.

Hardware differences

The Verizon iPhone has different breaks in the antenna band than its AT&T sibling. Even though the antenna band was redesigned for CDMA, I don’t see any improvement when it comes to the “death grip” issue. If anything, I experience it more than I do on my AT&T iPhone 4. I’m not sure if attenuation on the Verizon version is worse because of a difference between CDMA and GSM or if it’s something else. I experience the issue on my AT&T iPhone but it seems that the signal doesn’t drop as quick and when it does, it goes up quicker when I’m not touching the break in the band. The Verizon version seems to lose bars a lot quicker and it takes a bit longer for them to come back.

As most people have already figured out, putting a bumper or a case on your phone will solve the death grip problem.

Other than the breaks in the antenna bands, the mute switch and volume buttons are moved down about 2mm on the Verizon iPhone 4. This is because of the break in the antenna at the top left of the phone.

The only other difference I have found is that the back of the Verizon iPhone 4 doesn’t have exactly the same certifications and FCC clearance marks the AT&T version does.

Software differences

The AT&T iPhone 4 is currently running iOS 4.2.1. The Verizon iPhone 4 launched with iOS 4.2.6. The only major feature 4.2.6 adds is personal hotspot capabilities (called mobile hotspot on other devices). AT&T has announced that they will offer mobile hotspot as well but no dates have been given yet, and it will require an iOS 4.3 update. Currently AT&T offers internet tethering for iPhone users but you are limited to Bluetooth and USB tethering.

The Verizon version supports wifi tethering for up to 5 devices. This is extremely nice if you’re somewhere without wifi and need to access the internet from a wifi only device (like a wifi iPad). You can simply enable the mobile hotspot feature and it’ll show up as a wireless network on your other device. You can also choose to add a password if you’d like.

Signal strength differences

I have noticed signal differences in both models. While the AT&T phone seems to keep a steadier signal when it comes to physical bars, the Verizon iPhone seems more finicky when it comes to maintaining and keeping a steady signal. I thought maybe this was just an issue at my home but after testing it out in several different environments, this does seem to be the case. It didn’t ever affect call quality so I don’t see it as a big issue. The picture above I took while writing this article, tethered to Verizon. The iPhone shows 3G with no bars yet I'm tethered on my MacBook, a friend is tethered browsing the web on her PC laptop, and my AT&T iPhone is connected. The internet is still functioning. I do not think the Verizon bars are extremely accurate.

The AT&T version, even with full bars, took quite a bit longer to connect a call than the Verizon version. The fact that CDMA has better voice quality is not a secret. This held true whenever testing call quality on both devices.


There were times when I had 2-3 bars on the Verizon iPhone and full bars on the AT&T iPhone and the Verizon version still seemed to have better call clarity.

This is one of those issues you’re going to have to look at closely before deciding which carrier to go with. While Verizon seemed to have better overall voice quality, AT&T did much better than Verizon when it came to data speeds. I'm still a bit freaked out by being able to tether with no bars. Extremely odd.

While testing personal hotspot, the Verizon iPhone faired extremely well. The connection was steady and barely ever cut out. When tethering on AT&T (using MyWi), the connection was faster but I didn’t think it was such a huge difference that Verizon users would be hindered by the slower data speeds. Unless you plan on downloading substantially large files or streaming media, the Verizon hotspot will work perfectly fine for browsing and basic internet use.

If you’re a frequent talker, Verizon may suit you better. If you rely heavily on e-mail, text, media, and web - AT&T is probably going to serve you better if you live in an area with 3G coverage. Again, this is really going to come down to what you want to use the phone for.

Syncing data

If your’e coming from an AT&T iPhone, you’ll feel right at home. Actually, if you’ve ever used an iPod of any kind or an iPad, you’ll already know what to do. The Verizon iPhone is no different than its AT&T brother. Plug into iTunes, sync your content, and you’re good to go. Verizon also offers a contact transfer app for current customers that’ll easily bring down all your contacts wirelessly for you (given you use Verizon’s contact backup service).

There’s really nothing new here, both iPhones will sync and store data in the same manner.

Conclusion

The Verizon iPhone is definitely a contender. AT&T should be concerned. Verizon is offering unlimited data and personal hotspot tethering. Their data speeds may not match those of AT&T 3G or HSPA+, but they’re going to be good enough for a majority of users. Likewise the Verizon CDMA iPhone can't roam in anywhere near as many countries as the AT&T GSM iPhone can but many users are more concerned about a good network at home than abroad. Data hungry users could be swayed by Verizon’s unlimited data offering as well. I think it’s only a matter of time before we see AT&T bring back their unlimited feature. Unless Verizon switches to tiered data soon, AT&T will have to if they want to compete.

In the end, the Verizon iPhone is only going to benefit consumers in the United States. Up until now, if you wanted an iPhone, you had no choice but to be tied to AT&T. Now that we have a choice, things are only going to get better for the customer as two reputable carriers are going to have to compete for our business. So no matter how you look at it, the Verizon iPhone 4 is a winner.

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Allyson Kazmucha

Help and how to 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 4 vs AT&T iPhone 4 -- Fight!

54 Comments

I noticed on my friends verizon iphone that it took alot longer to download apps over 3g as opposed to my at&t iphone..I am in seattle which I don't know has anything to do with it.

That's typical. In most major cities AT&T will have faster speeds than Verizon as long as the AT&T network isn't getting hit by high traffic in your immediate area. Where Verizon data speeds will out shine AT&T is outside those major cities and when comparing peak network traffic loads per tower.

well, you don't have an iPhone. That's the slogan for Apple's new seiers of iPhone Ads on TV. This makes iPhone owners like us proud to be an iPhone user I think. What they are

I'll stick with the Verizon iPhone. AT&T has crappy service here and no 3G for at least an hour's drive. But for everyone that can take advantage of At&t where they are, go for it.

February 17, 2012 at 10:58 amThis is getting a bit more suejtcbive, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like Mixview' that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you're listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of neighbors will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune Social is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose. Reply

Are there any iPhone 4's available outside the US that would work on both verizon and att or did this site already cover this doesn't exist.

Practically all iPhones from outside the US are GSM phones and will only work on GSM networks, such as T-Mobile or AT&T, but not Verizon. When using an unbranded iPhone (without SIM lock), it will work with a SIM from any GSM operator.

Got my iphone 4 on monday thru verizon and after three long years of waiting i can say I'm satisfied. It does all i need it to do when i need it to be done. I feel free when i'm away from home knowing i have an UNLIMITED 3G DATA plan and dont have to worry about maxing out. Plus verizon's unlimited texting has really got me hooked. Oh yeah!

Hi there. I adore your web site. It all looks aowseme. I got here from Google simply by searching and i can easily see why. Carry on the great work.

I'm glad to see someone finally piping in on how the Verizon 3G speeds in the real world are marginally slower than AT&T's. Its plenty fast enough for me to Skype video call on my netbook, tethered on Verizon 3G. Not that it'd be necessary because you have Facetime on the iPhone4.
Another interesting fact that I really like about this article is the fluxuation of bars. Something I've always liked about my Verizon smartphones, if I have service, I have 3G. It does fluxuate more, but I've never had a call fail because of being low on bars, or roaming. I think bars on these devices are more suggestive than extremely accurate, at my house, I mostly get 1-2 bars of Verizon, out of 4, on my Incredible. I have no issues streaming YouTube videos in HQ. Bars only represent a raw number that the hardware sends the software, the only real way to see signal strength would be to see it measured in dBm.
Ultimately what this is going to come down to for people is who's network/pricing/protocals work better for them. A lot of people that live outside of large cities, still don't have 3G AT&T service, with good to bad EDGE still being there, a lot of people I know locally with iPhones live on wifi for their data, since EDGE is a much to slow. Verizon is king around here, because I live in about the worst place locally, and I still get 1-2 bars, with full-coverage in town and most of the time when travelling to and from classes and such.
I don't see simultaneous voice+data being a huge issue like the techblogs make it out to be. Something that a lot of people don't understand, those sort of issues, along with jailbreaking, and extra gidgets and gadgets. Those aren't things the majority of smartphone customers care about. Its the same with the Android community, rooting, ROM's etc. The small percentage of tech nerds that cruise these sites on a daily basis, live for the jailbreaking techniques and exploits, can't wait for their new roms to arrive, and worry about having the biggest list of features on their device is so small, neither Apple nor Google is truly concerned about it.
People will buy for what meets their needs and decide after a hands-on with a device on their own. Thats exactly what it will come down to with the iPhone4, if Verizon or AT&T suits an average everyday customer better for their needs in a network, they'll make that decision.

I have had no problems maintaining signal with my Verizon iPhone, none whatsoever. It is possible, however, that my area is better covered by Verizon than yours. That is what this really boils down to.

DISCLAIMER: This is to non power users...
I love how everyone is so worried about having unlimited data. I work for AT&T and we always check customers data usage average. The average customer doesn't even come close to a 700 MB of data but its funny how every customer thinks they would go over 2GB. I myself don't go over 1.5 GB (and my iPhone is jailbroken and I frequently use MyWi). For the customers who are grandfathered into unlimited data, I do advise them to keep it because they are grandfathered into it but I enjoy the 50 year old "suit and tie" who comes in and averages 300 MB of data who threatens to go to Verizon because he has to use the 2 GB plan.
People don't understand that if you use wi-fi (which you would want to do anyway since it is generally faster than 3G) it doesn't count against your data. If it wasn't for all of the hype in the news regarding at&t not offering unlimited data for the iPhone it wouldn't be a problem. I say all that to say this: DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH BEFORE SIGNING A 2 YR CONTRACT WITH EITHER COMPANY!!
as you were

Question: Why do you have such small springboard icons on that AT&T iPhone? Is it an app for jailbroken iPhones?

Yes it’s a jailbreak app called “Shrink” and it’s available in the Cydia app store. It works great with Gridlock and Iconoclasm.

Everyone keeps talking about how the Verizon iPhone is so much better because the voice services. AT&T may not have the best calling capabilities, but I can guarantee you that their download/upload speeds exceed far more than Verizon's iPhone. Besides, if you're someone who is so concerned with dropped calls on a cell phone, don't get an iPhone. People don't buy an iPhone because they want a great calling experience, it's all the other extra stuff.(music, internet, email, apps, etc.). People stick with AT&T for the best iPhone experience. Stay with Verizon if you want to have a great phone call....

I don't understand consumers. Why would you want:

  1. An iPhone 4 when not only is the iPhone 5 coming but there are more powerful phones out there already.
  2. The Verizon iPhone 4 still suffers from the DEATH GRIP! See for yourself: goo.gl/zhttN

deathgrip? never had a issue with this so called death grip. y do u care what ppl what if u don't have one don't comment on it i only upgrade every 2 years by far one of the best phones ive owned does what i need. and its ready for at&t to upgrade there towers again so i can use the net on it even faster.

When I had the AT&T iPhones (iPhone, 3G & 3Gs), the bars were not an accurate indicator of signal strength. I would often have 5 bars and poor call quality, then all of a sudden drop to no bars and a dropped call, then go right back to 5 bars. This happened all the time and it was rare that I could actually complete a call before it dropped. When field test mode was available until iOS 4, it would say -105 dBm and the bars (out of field test mode) would still show 5 bars.
After making the switch to Verizon and using several Android phones, Eris, Incredible and Droid X, the bars would typically display 3 or 4 bars, but I never dropped a call. The Verizon iPhone typically displays the same number of bars and the service has been far superior.
Verizon has a much larger 3G foot print than AT&T in Wisconsin. While home and work are in AT&T's 3G area, most of the state, with the exception of the Interstate corridors and large cities, are Edge, so voice & data at the same time is not available from AT&T anyway.
It's difficult to write a review article that compares the two iPhones and the service offered by both AT&T and Verizon. Most areas will see a difference with one carrier having better service than the other. I am sure there are places where AT&T's service is far better than Verizon's and vice versa. The consumer just needs to pick the one that offers the best service in their particular areas of use, which isn't always easy to figure out.

I don't understand why people are babbling about which carrier is the best this that choose which is best for you. Verizon is obviously paying people to say AT&T sucks when in actually all companies have faults and dropped calls. Moreover, the company is winning because you the consumer is getting fooled by their false marketing, like its a monopoly Verizon and AT&T both pay people to say negativity with each carrier it all comes down to money. Its just a cellphone for best call quality if that's what you want get a blackberry. And I Have had Verizon and I Live in NYC and i had bad service at my home and then I switched to AT&T and my service is fine I haven't had dropped calls but in Sky Scrapers all Cellphone companies suffer from dropped Connections. And watch all those who got that Verizon iPhone are gonna be sick when iPhone 5 comes out with dual Bands, NFC, Dual Core and 4G come this June.

Also funny how not one video comparing speeds of AT&T iPhone and the Verizon iPhone video has surfaced the politics kills me in America its so funny.

hi Spring,i'm not sure which part caused your plobrems. or, you could launch the App Store via your iphone/ipad/ipod touch. click on the Search tab to search the paradiso . you will see something like below :you should be able to install it.best, s

Yes it's a jailbreak app called "Shrink" and it's available in the Cydia app store. It works great with Gridlock and Iconoclasm.

You didn't mention the little inset w/hole in the middle right side of the AT&T iPhone4. My wife has an AT&T iPhone4 while I have the Verizon version. My Verizon iPhone4 does not have this inset thingy. What is it BTW?
Also, I can hold the Verizon iPhone4 in many different ways (including death-grip) at many different locations and I never see a the bars drop. Maybe I have too strong a signal for it to affect it.

I've had lots of friends with AT&T, and they hated it. They used it for data, and calls, and still hated AT&T's service. I moved from a Droid, to an Incredible, and now to the iPhone (waited for it to come to verizon). I couldn't be happier. All my other devices are mac, so everything is seamless. I've never had the need to talk on the phone, and use the web. Never needed to on Android, don't need to now. So I don't see that as being an issue. People who have AT&T and are happy, just enjoy your phones. Some of us didn't wanna deal with AT&T, or several versions of the iPhone that didn't have MMS, cameras, etc. Really until the 3G version came along. All others were kinda disappointing. I'm gad I waited on MY network, for the phone I knew iPhone could be. Can I download the new Girl Talk album faster than you? Probably not... But who cares

AT&T's network isn't 'marginally' faster than Verizon's, it's over twice as fast (from a new report all over the internet):
"
Ookla, creators of the Speedtest.net broadband test, compiled data from tests run by iPhone customers using the Speedtest.net app on both AT&T and Verizon. On average, reported AT&T iPhone transfer rates were roughly two times faster than the Verizon iPhone's.
The AT&T iPhone's average download speed was 1,769 kbps, and the average upload speed was 730 kbps. By way of comparison, the Verizon iPhone's average download speed was 848 kbps, and the average upload speed was 506 kbps.
The results come from 43,000 AT&T iPhones and 14,000 Verizon iPhones all over the United States. Most Speedtest.net app users ran the tests multiple times, totaling 106,000 results from AT&T iPhone users and 49,000 results from Verizon iPhone users."

trying again...
Ookla, creators of the Speedtest.net broadband test, compiled data from tests run by iPhone customers using the Speedtest.net app on both AT&T and Verizon. On average, reported AT&T iPhone transfer rates were roughly two times faster than the Verizon iPhone's.
The AT&T iPhone's average download speed was 1,769 kbps, and the average upload speed was 730 kbps. By way of comparison, the Verizon iPhone's average download speed was 848 kbps, and the average upload speed was 506 kbps.
The results come from 43,000 AT&T iPhones and 14,000 Verizon iPhones all over the United States. Most Speedtest.net app users ran the tests multiple times, totaling 106,000 results from AT&T iPhone users and 49,000 results from Verizon iPhone users.

All these speed tests are great and all, however, AT&T FAILS EPICALLY in the test that matters the most.
If your phone only works in the "big city", it's paperweight...useless.
I travel for a living and have had both carriers. AT&T doesn't hold a candle to VZW's coverage area..not even close.
I'll choose slower downloads...AT&Ters, keep your paperweight..

I work in IT and Verizon provides the best signal coverage when traveling across the US. Can't tell you how many times AT&T would drop a call. Had Verizon before and didn't experience the dropped calls. Can't wait until my AT&T contract expires.

Maybe someone already said this (too lazy to read all the comments right now), but in the article Allyson says a few times that she was connected with "no bars" and still able to make calls and get online, but she actually has one bar according to the pictures she posted.

Yeah I noticed that too. I've actually seen no bars on an iPhone. Though I've never seen "No Service" on my Verizon iPhone. :)

Ok so whats up with this? All of you say, " AT&T doesn't work outside the big city but i live outside the city, in the country on a mountain, in fact. and i still have perfect coverage.

Absolutely incorrect. I'm grandfathered into my unlimited data plan on ATT, along with having 2100 minutes. Me, my 2 brothers, and both of my parents all have iPhones 4's... our bill per month is on Average in 2011 $277.85, for FIVE iPhones with unlimited data and text and 2100 minutes used, along with UNLIMITED mobile to mobile, not o nly to ATT custy's, but ALL calls to ANY mobile phone on ANY carrier is free. Going to the Apple store, seeing comparison charts of prices, GSM ATT iPhone is on average 10-20 bucks cheaper for essentially the same data plan. give or take a few minutes and megs. Data is MUCH faster on ATT, which is a HUGE part of the iphone... if you just want to call people, get a droid or a regular functioning phone. The iPhone's KEY ingredient is the DATA. Almost any app uses it, especially maps.. which in testing about 10 different Verizon iphones against mine, is not nearly as good... the location is often WAY off, while my ATT GSM iphone is 96% PIN POINT accurate with location.. shows my exact address, compared to a stupid big circle that says, hey. you could be in this 1 mile radius.. ANYWAY.. ill give one thing to Verizon, its the phone service. ALSO, that depends where you live..Inner NYC Metro wireless customers have had a rough time with ATT 3G coverage, and Verizon has reigned supreme with much less dropped calls.. on the other hand, i go to school in buffalo, which features absolutely AMAZING ATT 3G service.. Full bars almost ANYWHERE i go.. its pretty phenomenal. How do you fix this problem if youre on ATT in NYC? Since youre in new york, 99% of places, even soon to be subways, will have Wi-Fi... TURN OFF YOUR 3G.. Edge Service is still very clear and great for phone calls, and wi-fi blows both ATT and VERIZON data speeds out of the water (obviously)... Again, a feature the verizon iPhone does NOT have. you cannot choose to disable your 3G radio in your CDMA iPhone.. its a toss up, but i'd have to give the edge to the ATT iPhone for faster Data, Cheaper plans, especially family plans and a more user-friendly experience.. Hot-Spot is now added to both phones.. there are ZERO features in which the verizon iphone has, that the ATT phone does not posses.. in fact, it is the other way around. iOS 5 beta 5 brought the carrier update 10.2.8 to AT&T, and like promised, it has proven to dramatically increase service.. at least for me. My downstairs bedroom was an absolute dead zone, i now can safely make a call for hours on end without dropping a call.. I see an average of 2-3 3G bars, with FULL edge service.. Again, if you are in a Wi-Fi area, switch to Edge. Much faster, and hoenstly, better on battery life. Poor 3G service is a phone killer.. As for the future, I do not see Apple putting a 4G radio in their upcoming 5th Gen. iPhone.. Battery life is atrocious and technology is not advanced enough to put that 4G radio is Apples' increasingly slimming phones with each models release. 4G is still VERY primitive, but when it DOES hit the iPhone, ATT will be way ahead, with their own 4G and T-mobile's 4G towers... once up and running, ATTs 4G network will ALREADY be reaching 95% of Americans. ATT steals this one ladies and gents... I'd still completely fu** with the Verizon iPhone, but why get it on a carrier who's CEO called the iPhone a "disgrace to smart phones".. yeah suck it buddy