In the last 5 years I’ve spent time on all 4 of the major US carriers here in Denver.1 During that time I’ve also done some traveling while carrying phones on multiple networks. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned, it’s that mobile coverage is a very dependent on location.
In Denver you can’t connect to the internet or make a call on AT&T if there is a ballgame downtown. On the other hand, while in Baltimore I experienced the fastest wireless speeds I’ve ever seen on the same AT&T iPhone.
I switched to Verizon from AT&T back in late 2009 and I’ve been pretty happy. Here are the big wins for me in Denver:
- Calls don’t drop. Period. I’ve had a single dropped call in a year and a half. I could predict exactly where on I-70 my AT&T calls would drop, on Verizon this just doesn’t happen.
- I can always make and receive a call.
- Calls sound better.
- I can always get data.
That’s the good news; but it’s not all roses.
- Data is slow, both the initial connection and the throughput.2
- Data is usually available, but I do drop out of 3G at times. Usually when I’m deeper in buildings or in weak coverage areas.
- Phone calls interrupt data. There is no simultaneous (theoretical) talking and surfing like on AT&T.
- CDMA is more power-hungry than GSM. I don’t know the technical details, but my GSM BlackBerrys typically get .5-1 day more battery than the equivalent CDMA device. I’ve experienced this on several occasions over the years as I’ve hopped from carrier to carrier and device to device.
If you’re trying to decide to make the move from AT&T for the iPhone, the question to ask is, “do I need to be able to reliably make and receive phone calls more than I need fast data?” If so, Verizon might be a good fit for you.