Should I upgrade to the new Verizon iPhone 4?

Verizon iPhone 4
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OK, it's official: The Verizon iPhone is finally here. After years of false speculation and blogs releasing false rumors and speculation for easy traffic, the wait is over. But should you pay your early termination fee if you're an ATT customer to jump to Verizon? Or if you're a Verizon smartphone user, should you cash in that New-Every-2 new phone promotion now for iPhone? Here's a very simple, watered-down list of the main differences between the two networks when it comes to the iPhone.


  • ATT uses GSM, allowing for the ease of sim cards and changing between phones (especially handy for world travellers who use a different phone when travelling abroad.)
  • GSM also allows for simultaneous data while on a call, meaning you can send e-mail/check directions/etc during a call.
  • ATT is "used to" the crushing blow of iPhone users. ATT used to be really reliable before the iPhone came around and crippled the network. Is Verizon ready?


  • Verizon is allowing users to tether their iPhones to allow a computer or other device to gain internet access at the expense of your data plan usage.
  • Overall (and in my personal opinion) Verizon seems to be a much better and more reliable carrier. I don't even get an ATT signal in my apartment; I had to get a 3G microcell to get calls.

Naturally, this isn't a full list of all the differences, but should at least you give you some ideas. The main thing people need to realize here is that this Verizon iPhone is NOT an iPhone 5. This is exactly the same iPhone 4 that was released to ATT customers on June 4th of last year. Apple releases a new iPhone model every summer.


iPhone Model Approx. Release Date
iPhone Release Dates
iPhone 6/29/07
iPhone 3G 7/11/08
iPhone 3GS 6/8/09
iPhone 4 6/4/10
New iPhone Summer 2011??

So it's early January now, that means you have a long six months to wait before a new iPhone is released. Also, evidence suggests that the next iPhone will only be an incremental step like the 3G to 3GS which introduced a few new features, but wasn't the complete overhaul like the 3GS to the 4. If the summer release guaranteed a completely new iPhone 5, it would definitely be worth it to wait it out no matter what your situation. However, since it's likely to be only a minor improvment, I don't think it's worth waiting for the summer release. You're not only stuck waiting for an extra six months, but when you finally do get the upgrade, you're now beginning your 2 year waiting period. If you just get the new Verizon iPhone now, you're already 25% to your next free upgrade by the time the new model is launched.

So, in a short summary, here's what I would personally do in these different situations:

If you have ATT and can break your contract free and hate ATT service: Wait a little bit. The entire ATT network will get a little bit better as customers flee. Also, with all the features Verizon is offering like tethering and hotspot, ATT may respond with packages of their own on their phones. But, it's probably not going to get better very quickly. If you're already pretty sure you're going to jump, now's a great time to make the transition.

If you have ATT and have to pay a fee to break your contract and hate ATT service: Wait. See above reasoning. It's going to get better, no sense paying that huge fee quite yet. If your commitment is ending soon, you might be right on time for that summer model, then you can leave for Verizon. (Verizon will likely get that June model at about the same time as ATT.)

If you have ATT and like ATT service: Don't. If you're making the switch for the hotspot features that Verizon currently has, they may come to ATT soon.


If you have Verizon and are eligible for a new phone : Go for it. Now's a good time to buy. Yes, there will be a slightly improved model in June/July, but that's 6 months away. It'd be a good bet to upgrade now and be 6 months into your commitment before summer to prepare for a future iPhone later.

If you have Verizon and are not eligible for a new phone : Wait for pricing options. If you're eligible by the time the summer model is released, you might as well wait for that one. If you're wayyy off from a new phone, you'll need to weigh whether you think the new iPhone is worth the coin.


If you have ATT but don't already have an iPhone: What are you, a glutton for punishment? You stuck around with ATT voluntarily? Maybe you were one of the few that didn't experience the ATT blues. If so, good for you. See below for the rest.

If you have Verizon/ATT and are wondering if the iPhone is better than your current phone: I'm not a huge Mac fanboy, but I think the iPhone is the best phone out hands down. I've taken the "Pepsi Challenge" with Android's of all shapes and sizes and no one can beat the clarity, ease of use, aesthetics and overall experience of the iPhone. There's a reason why everyone else compares their phone to the iPhone. And remember, you can always chuck that old and tired Android on eBay!

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posted by Jerry Nordstrom on: Jan 13, 2011 05:17pm

ATT burned down my business with them long ago, bait and switch, rude CS, monopoly rates you know the story.. I wanted an iPhone bad in 2007, but when the partnership with ATT came out, I opted for Sprint.... and my impression of Apple fell dramatically. I have had sold CS, amazing coverage and great data transfer speeds at fair price with Sprint. Every time I spoke to somebody on an iPhone the conversation was like this: "Hi, you're on an Hey, call me back when you're a land" 5 phones over 3+ years? Talk about buyer's remorse. Why do we accept that our cell phones get tied to carriers? What if your internet service provider said you can only use us if you purchase a PC, running Windows Vista and uses our browser? What if your cable provider told you which HDTV you had to use? What if a Gas station told you what car you had to drive to fuel up with them? In my case my impatience led me to getting the HTC Evo 4G. Now I look at the puny iPhone and think, I can't believe that I, a Jaded marketer, got caught up in the hype over a phone.

posted by Ty Myers on: Jan 11, 2011 07:09pm

What's your take on a 4G LTE Android vs a 3G iPhone 4 on VZW? I'd really hesitate to pick up a 3G device (even an iPhone 4) and get locked in for 2 years when 4G devices are rolling out this quarter.

posted by Alex Fierro on: Jan 11, 2011 08:00pm

It's definitely interesting. Unfortunately, 4G doesn't actually mean anything yet, as the International Telecommunications Union has no stardards on the term. ATT's third generation protocol is faster than some other's fourth generation so they're actually renaming their 3G network to a "4G" network. So that kind of muddles the 3G vs 4G argument. ATT's 3G (4G?) offers "up to 7.5Mbps down" which in the real world relates to about 3-4 Mbps. So that's about 375-500 kb/s on the current iPhone 4. Is that 'fast enough'? Apparently not, since Apple disabled Facetime over 3G because it ran like garbage. But it's still fast enough to download an average 3.5MB MP3 in about 7-10 seconds. Is an iPhone 4 future-proof right now? No. But what phone is? I'm still waiting to see the 4G LTE coverage from every provider to see if it's widespread or locked to only the inner-metropolitan areas. If it is, and it gets the "up to 20Mbps" (AKA about 9-10) they're claiming, then we'll really need to see that summer Verizon iPhone in June be an LTE model. Physics and form-factor be damned!

posted by Barry Schwartz on: Jan 11, 2011 08:28pm

It can't be too long until AT&T allows a mobile hotspot as well.

posted by on: Jan 16, 2011 10:00pm

your analogy with ISPs providing services to PCs is different -- ISPs don't offer you a free or even discounted Mac or PC by signing up for X years of service. everyone just buys their hardware on their own terms. In the mobile world, you can mostly do the same thing if you wanted to, its just that people are much less likely to drop $499 or $599 for a phone and then pay $75 a month for service. Also, the different carriers use slightly different technology and radio frequencies, and most phones don't have all the signal decoders built in at the same time.

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posted by on: Aug 5, 2011 03:16am

nicely mentioned all the aspects of both the ATT and Verizon.