Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

The Verizon iPhone: The Good and the Bad

The biggest product-related buzz in the tech industry this month has to do with the introduction of an iPhone that will run on Verizon’s CDMA cellular network. It’s big news for both Apple and Verizon, and there’s a great deal of speculation as to what the CDMA iPhone will mean for both companies. Most people seem to be greeting the arrival of the Verizon iPhone as an event requiring about as much fanfare as the arrival of a small deity. Of course, there’s one pressing question for consumers: should you buy one? Verizon has certainly done a lot to make the way they handle the iPhone more competitive, and it’s a very attractive alternative to AT&T.

The biggest appeal of the Verizon iPhone is that for some people, like those of us in Walla Walla, Verizon has better coverage. (Of course, the reverse is also true for AT&T in certain areas.) In general, users also tend to report higher satisfaction with Verizon over AT&T. When it comes to service, Verizon seems to have the advantage at this point.

In addition, Verizon has made tethering standard on the CDMA iPhone. Tethering, for those who don’t know, is the ability to use your phone’s data connection with your computer. The CDMA iPhone will be able to act as a mobile wireless hotspot, and share its internet connection with up to five devices. That’s more than AT&T can say. In order to tether your iPhone on their network, you need to pay an additional $20 for the privilege.

Of course, all of that’s well and good, but what are the drawbacks? First and foremost, there are all the usual problems with cell phone companies. If you’re thinking of switching to Verizon from another carrier, it’s possible you’ll have to pay an early termination fee in the hundreds of dollars to your other carrier. In addition, most plans these days allow you to call other people on a given network for free, so if the people you have been calling the most aren’t on Verizon, you’ll end up using more minutes with a CDMA iPhone than your current phone.

The second potential issue you may have is that the CDMA iPhone is being released in the middle of a product cycle. In the past, Apple has announced new iPhones like clockwork at their Worldwide Developer Conference in June. It’s entirely possible that there will be a new iPhone out in half a year. Of course, if you need a CDMA iPhone now, and don’t mind it being outmoded in a month, go for it.

It’s also possible, depending upon demand, that Verizon, despite its preparations, will get slammed by an avalanche of bandwidth it’s not prepared for. While they have said that they’ve spent the time to fortify their network, I’m not sure how possible it could be to totally prepare for the massive data usage the iPhone tends to bring.

Finally, there’s the problem with the CDMA network itself: it’s impossible to talk and use data at the same time. All those great commercials that show people talking about going to a restaurant while looking it up on their phone? Yeah, not possible on Verizon’s CDMA network. Of course, I can count on two hands the number of times I’ve needed to look something up on the Internet while talking on the phone. I’ve only bothered to do it once or twice.

So here’s the bottom line: if you’re a Verizon customer eager to get your paws on an iPhone, and you won’t be shocked if a new version comes out in a few months, go for it. It looks like a quality product. On the other hand, if you’re staring down the barrel of an early termination fee, or everyone you call is on another network, or if you’re committed to wanting the next version of the iPhone, I would say hold off on your purchase.

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