Yesterday, my cohorts weighed in on the question on countless iPhone owners’ minds right now — should I ditch AT&T and buy an iPhone from Verizon? The answer is going to be different for everyone, of course. Some people have a compulsive need to switch phones constantly, so they can’t use a CDMA carrier. Some people have a need for speed and Verizon’s 3G network doesn’t cut it. Well guess what? I have a need for a phone that actually works wherever and whenever I want it to. That need is way more important than any need I have to swap phones every day or download iTunes tracks at lightning-fast speeds. I want to make phone calls. I want to receive emails instantly. I want to load Web pages and refresh apps any time, anywhere. AT&T, fast as it might be, just can’t hang.
Before AT&T scored Apple’s iPhone exclusively in the U.S., its network was solid. Once tons of iPhones began hammering its airwaves constantly, however, things changed — especially in big cities. Calls dropped more frequently than they connected, data pipes were clogged, and the iPhone experience on AT&T pretty much became a disaster in many regions. Now, it wasn’t all AT&T’s fault. Reports emerged that Apple, which was new to the cell phone game, didn’t quite know how to make the most efficient use of cellular networks. Internationally, iPhone users on several other networks found themselves experiencing problems as well, but none were as bad as AT&T. To AT&T’s credit, things have improved a lot over the past six months or so, but I still drop calls constantly in Connecticut and in New York City, where I spend most of my time.
I don’t think we’ll see the same thing happen with Verizon Wireless. The nation’s top carrier has had over three years to prepare for the iPhone and I think it’s ready. Beyond that, a video showing what appears to be parts from the upcoming Verizon iPhone surfaced recently, and it looks like we may be in store for a redesigned antenna. Antennagate might not have affected iPhone sales much, much it definitely impacts the user experience. I don’t use a case and I’m sick of dropping calls every time I accidentally touch the black strip in the lower left corner of the phone. I think Apple spent a ton of time on this issue following the Antennagate affair, and I think the new model will definitely be improved.
There are obvious downsides to switching and I’m well aware of them. Verizon’s 3G is typically slower than AT&T’s network, battery life will probably be a tiny bit worse, and I’ll lose the ability to use voice and data at the same time unless Verizon shocks us with a workaround today. But you know what? I dropped five calls before 9:00AM this morning and I just can’t take it anymore. I’m someone who needs to be connected at all times, in all places, and I need to be able to rely on that connection because by business often depends on it. AT&T simply doesn’t seem to be up to the task — I really hope Verizon will succeed where AT&T continues to fail.