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Apple iPhone 4 for Verizon mini-review


Review by Todd Haselton on Friday March 18, 2011.

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We've been using a Verizon Wireless iPhone 4 for the past few weeks and are ready to bring you some of our opinions on the phone. As you likely already know, Verizon's iPhone 4 is nearly identical to AT&T's version, in terms of both looks and features.

Design

Verizon's iPhone 4 sports the same 3.5-inch Retina display as AT&T's, with a 960 x 640 pixel resolution, and measures the same, too, at 115.2mm x 58.6mm x 9.3mm (4.5in x 2.31in x 0.37in). Plus, Verizon's iPhone 4 has the same beautiful build, with a fingerprint-resistant oleophobic screen and a glass front and back panel. The display is incredible for viewing photos, gaming, and reading the web. Text is always sharp, and it's easy to read, even under direct sunlight.

Overall, the iPhone 4 is a beautiful device, and one of the most attractive handsets you can buy. However, what changes with the Verizon iPhone is its support for Verizon's CDMA network, as opposed to AT&T's GSM/HSPA network. That changes quite a few things.

User Interface

The iPhone 4 user interface is pretty well known. The iOS 4.2 update added a host of compelling features, including the ability to switch between open tasks, and the option to create folders for your desktop icons. I was able to switch between a game and an email by double tapping the home button quickly. The iPhone 4 makes the switch quickly, as well. I also liked that this feature can be used to control music or to lock the phone from switching into landscape mode. Folders can be used to organize your desktop by simply dragging one icon onto another. From there, the iPhone is smart enough to identify similarities between the two apps and automatically create a default folder name. Dragging Tiny Wings on top of Dungeon Hunter 2, for example, created a Gaming folder. There's also the option to rename the folder anything you want, and this can all be managed in iTunes, too.

Hardware Differences

For one, Verizon's iPhone isn't capable of roaming in most European countries, which run on GSM networks. Similarly, unless you're connected to Wi-Fi, you can't surf the web and hold a phone call at the same time. For many, this is a big deal. I don't often use that feature, so it really hasn't affected me during my testing period. The Verizon iPhone 4 did, initially, offer one feature that the AT&T version didn't: Wi-Fi tethering, which allows you to share your 3G connection with up to five other Wi-Fi capable devices. The iOS 4.3 update has since brought this feature to AT&T.

There's also a slight differentiation in the placement of the ring/silent toggle switch on the Verizon iPhone 4, which means some cases built for AT&T's model won't fit correctly. The button was moved because the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth antenna switched spots from the top of the phone to the top-left of the Verizon iPhone 4.

According to Consumer Reports, the iPhone 4 still has a "death grip" area, if you hold the phone covering the main cellular antenna, which runs alongside the bottom of the device and slightly up each side. I didn't find this to be an issue, but some people have reported dropped calls in low-signal areas while holding the phone in a specific way. You can alleviate some of these issues by using a bumper or case.

Wi-Fi Tethering, Data, and Calling

Wi-Fi tethering worked well when I connected to it using my netbook. Data speeds were satisfactory, and I averaged about 1Mbps down and 690Kbps up. However, my AT&T iPhone is capable of achieving speeds in the 3-4Mbps range at times.

Calls placed on the device sounded excellent. I live in New York City and typically use an AT&T iPhone 4. I've had my share of dropped calls and issues with loading websites or data-heavy apps because of network overloading. I didn't experience those issues with the Verizon iPhone 4.

Conclusion

Overall the iPhone 4 on Verizon Wireless offers up a top-notch experience. In general, though, I'll probably end up sticking with my AT&T iPhone 4 because I like having the option to roam globally during trips to Europe. While Verizon's network in New York City seemed to offer more reliable connections, AT&T's data performance was generally faster during my tests. The personal hotspot feature was a feather in its cap for a short while, but that didn't last long. If you're on Verizon and want an iPhone, though, this should suit you just fine.

 
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About the author

Todd Haselton
Todd is a senior editor at MobileBurn and works out of his home in New York City. He covers news for us and also writes reviews. You can follow him on Twitter at @RoboTodd

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