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iPhone and Verizon: A Match Made in 4G Heaven?

By  Feb 7, 2011

Topics: Gadgets & Computer Hardware

As an iPhone 4 owner myself, I was curious how the Verizon marriage to the iPhone hardware would turn out. You've probably seen the T-Mobile commercials slamming AT&T for their FaceTime issues and the high cost of their data plans. What about Verizon? Is it more of the same?

I recently procured an article from one of my authors, Jason R. Rich, on the topic of AT&T vs. Verizon on the iPhone 4. From what he states in the article (which will be posted on this site very soon) there may not be any advantage to switching to Verizon for current iPhone 4 owners with an AT&T service plan. For one, there is a $350 early termination fee (less $10 per month fulfilled of the contract) if you cancel your AT&T contract prior to fulfilling the two-year agreement you would have been contracted to the minute you activated your phone (provided you didn't choose to activate a month-to-month contract, which is available but not widely used).

The next thing I've learned is that the phones are not interchangeable between service providers. Therefore, even if you own an iPhone 4 that you purchased through AT&T, you cannot switch that phone to Verizon. You would have to purchase a new iPhone through Verizon. Where you might be at an advantage is if you have an iPhone 3G, and your contract with AT&T is fulfilled. Then you would just terminate your AT&T account, move your phone number to Verizon, and purchase an iPhone 4 through them. But is it really worth it?

Before I go any further, I just want to stress that there is conflicting information out there currently between AT&T's site and sales reps, Verizon's announcements and the Apple website that lists the available plans/rates. I'm going to mention those that I believe to be accurate, but these may change further after the Verizon iPhone becomes available as they and AT&T scramble to compete for iPhone users. Be sure to check with your desired provider before making a decision.

According to Jason's article,

"The biggest difference is that Verizon still offers an unlimited data service plan for a flat fee of $29.99 per month [AT&T's 2G plan is $25.00 per month, with a $10 fee for each additional 1G of data usage]  (at least for a limited time), or a 15MB plan for $15.00 per month. If you want your iPhone to be able to serve as a Wi-Fi Hotspot for other devices, you’ll need to upgrade to a plan that includes unlimited data usage on the iPhone and 2GB per month as a 3G Mobile Hotspot for $49.99 per month.

As for the available voice plans from Verizon, what’s offered is comparable with AT&T Wireless, starting with a 450 minute plan for $39.99 per month (additional minutes cost $.45), followed by a 900 minute plan for $59.99 (additional minutes cost $.40), and an unlimited voice plan for $69.99. For text messaging, Verizon has announced a $5.00 plan which includes 250 messages (additional messages cost $.10 each), a $10.00 per month plan which includes 500 messages (additional messages cost $.10 each), and a $20.00 per month plan which includes unlimited text messages.

Both AT&T Wireless and Verizon also offer Family Plans, which allow family members to share minutes and a data plan."

***disclaimer: these plans/rates may change at any time based on the whims of the providers***

So, what's the big deal? For some, AT&T's coverage or call stability may be enough of an issue to switch to Verizon. However, if you travel internationally you should bear in mind that the AT&T network is accessible in about 220 different countries, where Verizon only shows up in about 40.

Another difference that may or may not bother current AT&T iPhone users, is that it has been reported that you are not able to surf the web while on a call, unless you are connected to a wi-fi network. This is not an issue with the AT&T service.

One thing that really bugs me is getting dumped into the Edge network. When we travel, particularly in the south, I find that I often end up losing my 3G connection. Trying to surf the web or check email on the Edge is like swimming in molasses and I generally don't even bother anymore. Some might think it's worth the switch to use Verizon's 4G network, but in that case you'd better hold off until iPhone 5 comes along because the current generation of iPhone can only operate on a 3G network. Currently, only Android phones can take advantage of the 4G network. 

I also found out (directly from an AT&T sales agent) that AT&T has recently changed their text messaging plans. I read this on a couple of blogs and tech sites, so I'm going to assume it's accurate even though the official Apple site that lists the plans from both carriers still shows the old structure. The AT&T text plans have changed from $5 for 200 messages and $15 for 1,500 messages, to $10 for 1,000 messages. They still offer unlimited for $20 for an individual phone. I assume this was in response to Verizon's offering of $10 for 500 messages. Of course, I'm not sure there are very many people anymore who can keep their text messaging at that limit. My kids send and receive thousands of texts per month. Can't imagine what the overage costs would be for that!

So, bottom line, do you plan to switch to Verizon for iPhone, or would you only make the jump to switch to an Android phone? What would AT&T have to do to keep you if you are an iPhone user looking to switch? Would a reduction in plan rates be enough? AT&T has announced a 4G network coming soon, but unless Apple enables the next gen iPhone to run on it, that will be a moot point on either carrier.

Love to hear your thoughts!