AT&T Says Their iPhone is Better

Since its inception in 2007, the iPhone has been exclusive to AT&T. So it is not surprising that recent news of the iPhone becoming available on the Verizon network piqued the interest of many. So many, in fact, that Verizon Wireless announced that the number of iPhones it sold in the first two hours of availability exceeded the one-day total for any other device’s debut in the carrier’s history.

Now AT&T is fighting back. Ric Whitman, the AT&T Area Retail Sales Manager, gave me a list of reasons why the iPhone on AT&T is better than the iPhone on Verizon:

1.     On the AT&T iPhone you can do simultaneous voice and data. On the Verizon iPhone you cannot.

2.     The AT&T iPhone has an International advantage. It can be used in 220 different countries. The Verizon iPhone cannot.

3.     AT&T has over 23,000 hot spots where AT&T subscribers can get free wireless access.

4.     AT&T has the lowest priced iPhone offering the 8GB 3GS for $49.

5.     AT&T has the nation’s fastest mobile broadband

So let’s look at these in depth to help those of you who want an iPhone decide which carrier to use.

The first point is well taken. Only the AT&T iPhone will allow you to surf the web or get directions while talking on the phone. If you are a heavy data user, this might be a big drawback, but most average users will only encounter an occasional situation of this type.

The second point is also very valid. The AT&T iPhone is a GSM phone which can be used internationally. The Verizon iPhone is a CDMA phone that will not be able to be used in most overseas countries. So if you plan to travel internationally, AT&T will be a better choice. Again, however, this will be important to only a small number of users.

AT&T hot spots are certainly a plus for AT&T users. They can not only give you faster data access, but they take some of the burden off the mobile network. AT&T has set them up in Starbuck’s and other establishments and also has many in a variety of Metro areas.

The cost of the current iPhone is the same at both AT&T and Verizon. $199 for the 16GB model and $299 for the 32 GB model,  along with a two-year contract. So to be able to get an iPhone for $49 with a two-year contract is a big savings. This is sure to appeal to users who want to get in cheaply. But by purchasing this older model, they will be giving up the iPhone 4’s retina display, dual cameras, HD video, and other perks. Although this older 3GS can run iOS 4, the latest operating system, some capabilities like the improved accessibility options will not be available.

Now we get to the last point. While AT&T may have the nation’s fastest access, it doesn’t do you much good if you don’t have good or fast coverage in the area where you live. This is the situation in this area of North Carolina. When I purchased my first iPhone in 2008, our area was on AT&T’s slower EDGE network. Although promises of an upgrade to the faster 3G network were made, AT&T never delivered. We are still on the slower EDGE network. So if you compare an AT&T iPhone to a Verizon iPhone in our area, the data access will be currently be much slower on the AT&T iPhone. AT&T again promises 3G in our area soon. And for the first time they have stated this in writing. Crystal Prince, AT&T’s public relations representative, writes in an email, “I’ve checked with our Network team regarding plans for 3G in Pinehurst-Southern Pines-Aberdeen. Rest assured it’s on the way.  The team is working very hard to get everything in place for a launch soon so we expect that it will in fact be up by EOY (end of year) 2011.”

Both Ric and Crystal also say that AT&T is working on covering “dead spots” that they now have in our area including many in the Pinehurst-to-Raleigh corridor. I know this to be a fact as they are constantly adding new equipment and towers, but again, “when” this will all be accomplished is an important question.

Two other recent offerings and announcements show that AT&T is really trying to get your business. This week, they announced that AT&T customers will now get free calls to any cellphone in America. The only requirement is that you have certain voice plans that include AT&T’s unlimited texting plan. That texting plan is $20 a month for individuals or $30 for families.

AT&T is also offering free microcells to current customers. These are small $199 devices that hook up to the broadband in a home or office and pull the 3G signal from the Internet. If you don’t get good cell reception indoors, this is the answer to your problem. Although, not highly publicized, these free microcells are available to most AT&T customers with an additional year on their contract.

If you are ready to move into the iPhone world, you have to make a decision between AT&T and Verizon. You cannot use a Verizon iPhone at AT&T or vice versa, so you will be making a sizeable investment. While Verizon has much better and faster coverage in our area, some are worried that the high sales of the iPhone at Verizon may put a strain on the Verizon network. So this decision is not as easy as it may seem.

To give you one more thing to think about, Apple traditionally announces new iPhones in June, so this summer there may be a better and more capable iPhone available on one or both networks. For me, the choice is easy….Just wait to see if AT&T delivers on their promises, to see if the Verizon network can handle that additional users, and to see if the next version of the iPhone is the one I can’t live without.

1 Comment

Lilian Thorpe 20-02-2011, 09:29

My hard working son is a VP of AT&T celluar. He lives in Nashville. I have never shared your newsletter with him but have felt you are biased for Verizon. Glad to read your comparison today and glad you talked to the folks at AT&T here in town and state. They gave you a good account and Jim has told us all this. A real battle is on,,good old American business! Thanks. Lilian
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