Verizon vs. AT&T iPhones in NW Oregon

A friend asked me to review my switch after 3+ years on AT&T to Verizon with the iPhone 4s. I've been using the Verizon phone for nearly 3 months and I spent all summer sitting next to an intern using the first Verizon 4 iPhone, so I got to use them side by side before switching. Here are my thoughts after a few months of usage:

In general I always have coverage everywhere I've been in Portland and in cities beyond, more so than when I had an AT&T phone in the area. I haven't noticed the reported call sound quality increases (cell phones just generally sound like talking into a tin can and still do) but I do have to say I've never dropped a call since I left AT&T. When I would be driving on the freeway in Portland, my calls on AT&T (through bluetooth, of course) would drop about half the time. It was almost like clockwork when I'd hit the city limits of Portland that my calls would begin to drop on AT&T. That has never happened with Verizon. In nearly three months, I've never gotten a "network busy" error either, which is something that happened a couple times a month on my old AT&T phone.

The only downside I've found is that data is a bit slower. Not super slow and you get used to it really fast and forget about it, but I remember thinking web pages I always accessed on AT&T were loading on Verizon in a few more seconds than usual. I do tons of stuf online with my phone so this can be a dealbreaker for people working 100% online that require the fastest data connection, but I gave up a slight bump in speed for reliable networking. The Verizon phone always seems to have a 3G connection.

There was one other aspect aside that also made me switch and it was the increased coverage that Verizon has over everyone else. I noticed in the coverage maps that Verizon extends a mile or two into the wilderness more than AT&T and every single time I went for a mountain bike (MTB) ride in Oregon (Bend, Dallas, McMinnville, McKenzie River, Mt St Helens, Hagg Lake) my AT&T connection would disappear either in the parking lot or the trailhead. I've taken a couple MTB rides since I switched and on one ride I always had a connection whenever I stopped to check and another I had a connection about 3/4 of the stops (only in a small valley of dense forest was there no connection). This was really important to me since I broke my wrist last year — I know I'm no longer invincible and if anyone riding with me ever crashed on a MTB ride, normally we'd all be screwed and have to hike out with an injured person. Having some chance of phone service made me feel a bit safer whenever I go off road.

That's about it, increased coverage, calls never drop, but data speeds are a tad slower. The costs are about the same but I have liked switching to Verizon since the local store has a very competent staff that helped me get phones on launch day and have fixed a couple of tiny issues since I got the phones (like changing callerID, etc). The local AT&T store was mostly unhelpful in the three years I would sporadically interact with them.

One Comment

  • Data speeds on Verizon are on average about a good 1-3mbps slower than AT&T. This is of course dependent on where you are using both phones, and the congestion on the networks and towers and terrain.
    My friend LOVED Verizon service, and didnt mind paying more for stability and coverage (even if she never used it in those extra covered areas).. But she really wanted the iPhone, and moved over to AT&T. Got the same plan as Verizon, realized the coverage area where she lives, works, and plays was the same as Verizon. She experienced a few more dropped calls, a few more connection issues (this is of course inherent of GSM hard handoff vs CDMA soft handoff), but she didnt mind.
    When the iPhone 4S came to Sprint, Verizon and AT&T, she knew hands down based on my experience with Sprint that she didnt want Sprint and their slower than 3G-3G network. She also didnt want to go back to Verizon for “tiered” plans, but weighed that option hard against the service being better. After she realized that Verizon with its tiered data actually would be better, she would get coverage at home (something AT&T tried to say she got, but then tried to sell her a microcell for $200!) she determined there was one issue she couldnt do without. Simultaneous Voice and Data! That single feature built into AT&T (and T-Mobile) GSM was by far more valuable than making a few calls in a few areas she never went – she was moving in a few months anyway to a larger house in another area that had fantastic coverage, so AT&T was the way to go.
    I personally hate ALL 4 CARRIERS! I once said if the iPhone came to Sprint, and it was a CDMA/GSM version, I may get it. Sprint notoriously unlocks like T-Mobile without issues on request. Based on that I wanted one to use on both my Sprint and T-Mobile accounts. I opted not to, because I dont get fast enough data over 3G on Sprint nor EDGE on T-Mobile. So until an iPhone has not only a REAL 4G LTE connection on Sprint, and 3G for T-Mobile, Im just not gonna like the iPhone. I have well enough Android phones to keep me satisfied.
    However, I am pleased your iPhone on Verizon works really well in the PacNorWest. Up there, it is a little more important to have a phone that works in the middle of nowhere. Lots of forests and driving on the Banfield out by Rufus in 2002, there was no such thing as GSM service, when a friends car broke down his T-Mobile phone didnt work, but my Sprint one did while roaming on analog on Verizon. So having a network that really extends its reach is VERY important living up there.

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