Prizefight (week of February 24)
Verizon iPhone 4 vs. AT&T iPhone 4
Verizon iPhone 4 vs. AT&T iPhone 4
Some would say that the biggest drawback to the iPhone 4 has been its network; AT&T has been blamed many times over for offering terrible voice and data service, especially in San Francisco and New York. Dropped calls, nonexistent signals, and bad 3G coverage are often the complaints. Yet many stuck it out with the iPhone just because they liked the phone.
This explains why the iPhone 4 on Verizon was met with great anticipation. Finally, iPhone enthusiasts would have a choice of carrier, and Verizon is known for pretty good coverage in the aforementioned cities. It also meant that Verizon customers could finally get iPhones if they so chose. The Verizon version of the iPhone 4 even has a personal hot-spot feature. However, the iPhone 4 on Verizon does have a couple of downsides: it doesn't support simultaneous voice and data, and it's not an international phone.
So we decided to pit brother against brother in this rivalry of two practically identical twins.
Let's have a clean fight, fellas. Ding ding!
Editors' note: The Prizefight scoring system is as follows: Each judge rates on a scale of zero to five. At the end of each round, we will take an average of the three judges' scores. The final score for each phone will be an average of all five rounds.
Round 1: Sexiness and durabilityDesign and looks count for a lot when you're shopping for a cell phone, so here's where we examine the look, size, feel, and sex appeal of the devices.
|Apple iPhone 4 - 32GB - black (Verizon Wireless)||5As far as looks go, the Verizon and AT&T iPhone are practically identical. They're both slim and slender, with the same gorgeous Retina Display. The only real difference in design is that the Verizon version's antenna bands are located on the sides rather than the top. No big whoop.||4These two phones are nearly identical, and the few changes are too slight to make one sexier than the other.||5This is one pretty little thing. The change in the antenna design still doesn't cure all evils. If you squeeze hard enough and in the right place, you'll still see a degradation of signal, but it shouldn't affect many people.||4.7|
|Apple iPhone 4 - 32GB - black (AT&T)||5See above.||4That said, the iPhone's edges are a tad too squared off for my tastes, even though I love the rest of the design.||5This is still one pretty thing, and the antenna issues were overblown and hyped up.||4.7|
Round 2: Controls and user interfaceSexiness is one thing, but are the phones easy to use? In Round 2, we examine the design and usability of their software and navigation controls.
|Apple iPhone 4 - 32GB - black (Verizon Wireless)||5Again, there really isn't much of a difference here. Both have that dead-simple home-screen interface that lets you store apps in folders, plus a shortcut dock at the bottom. You can navigate just by swiping around, and, yes, you can pinch to zoom in and out.||5Again, Verizon and AT&T are on equal footing when it comes to interface.||5Cleanest and simplest interface to use and you'll know it when your 2-year-old nephew can navigate it with ease.||5|
|Apple iPhone 4 - 32GB - black (AT&T)||5See above.||5It's a UI tie for me.||5Same as above.||5|
Round 3: FeaturesWhat do these phones offer under the hood?
|Apple iPhone 4 - 32GB - black (Verizon Wireless)||4Here's where we start to see a little bit of difference. The Verizon iPhone 4 has a personal hot-spot option that lets it act as a wireless modem for up to five devices. This is a feature that is missing from the AT&T version at the moment, though we have heard that it'll be available on the AT&T iPhone via a future software update. The rest of the features are the same: camera, browser, Wi-Fi, iPod player, and so on.||4Verizon gets a slightly newer OS version, which brings it the ability to run a mobile hot spot. Very cool feature that AT&T should also get soon.||4The mobile hot-spot feature is nice, but you have to pay $20 a month for it. And there are subtle limitations like only being able to conference call with up to three people including yourself, and you can't swap calls and take one of your conference callers on private.||4|
|Apple iPhone 4 - 32GB - black (AT&T)||4Even though the AT&T iPhone 4 doesn't have the personal hot-spot feature just yet, it can make calls and surf the Web at the same time. This is a feature that isn't on the Verizon version. Also, the iPhone 4 for AT&T is a GSM phone, letting it roam internationally; Verizon's CDMA iPhone 4 has limited use overseas.||5I prefer simultaneous voice and data, which the CDMA Verizon model can't yet support. Hot spots are a battery drain; checking e-mail while on a call--not so much. Also a bonus: easier international roaming.||5I use date and voice together all the time, and it's a useful feature. This phone doesn't have hot-spot capability yet, but it does have more calling flexibility with conference calls for up to five people, and it's a GSM phone that can be used worldwide. AT&T gets the edge here.||4.7|
Round 4: Web browsing and multimediaSmartphones are multifunction devices that have Web browsers, multimedia players, and more. Which gadget offers you the better experience?
|Apple iPhone 4 - 32GB - black (Verizon Wireless)||5Both phones offer the same Safari browser and iPod music player. The browser is fantastic and easy to use, and the iPod player works seamlessly with iTunes and offers excellent podcast support.||5Apple didn't make any changes to the Verizon iPhone's multimedia capabilities.||5The best multimedia experience on a phone we've ever seen, with a stellar mobile Web browser, even without Flash.||5|
|Apple iPhone 4 - 32GB - black (AT&T)||5Same as above.||5Both phones share a top-notch camera, smooth recording, and great video playback.||5Ditto.||5|
Round 5: Call quality and performanceWhich phone can you really hear now, and how fast can you surf the Web?
|Apple iPhone 4 - 32GB - black (Verizon Wireless)||5I live in San Francisco, and I get absolutely horrible coverage with the AT&T iPhone. I miss calls all the time because I can't get a signal. With the Verizon iPhone, signal is not a problem at all. Voice quality in our tests was loud, clear, and natural. Data speeds also seemed strong, averaging at around 0.58Mbps down and 0.75Mbps up.||5There were fewer dropped calls on Verizon's iPhone, and voices sounded sharper overall. Verizon's network upkeep has certainly paid off. Browsing was also noticeably faster in our battery of San Francisco tests.||5It performs better as a phone, as in establishing calls and not dropping calls, and that's the most important feature...in a phone.||5|
|Apple iPhone 4 - 32GB - black (AT&T)||3As mentioned above, I have terrible coverage with AT&T in San Francisco. I rarely get any data coverage in the CNET office, which is located downtown. When I do manage to get signal, the voice quality is actually pretty decent; callers said we sounded clear enough, though they did detect the occasional hiss and static.||3Voices generally sounded warmer on AT&T, but we can't so easily forgive those long years of dropped calls. In Web browsing, AT&T wasn't usually too far behind.||4We know that AT&T iPhone calls can have connection issues specific to your area. Outside of our SF area, data speeds are faster on AT&T and sometimes even twice as fast.||3.3|
The winner is...
Apple iPhone 4 - 32GB - black (Verizon Wireless) (4.7 pts)
Apple iPhone 4 - 32GB - black (AT&T) (4.5 pts)
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