Once again, the Verizon iPhone rumor mill is churning following a recent WSJ story that the iPhone will be coming to Verizon in early 2011. If I were to venture a guess one way or the other whether the current rumors are true, I would undoubtedly be proven wrong. So I won't bother to try.
But when the iPhone does come to Verizon, and it will someday, it won't be a clear-cut decision on whether you should leave AT&T or trade-in your Android phone for an Apple model.
So if you're holding onto an old phone in the hope of getting a Verizon iPhone in six months, consider these issues first.
1. You may get fewer dropped calls vs. AT&T
The iPhone 4 has become notorious for dropped calls. Here in New York, I can often tell whether someone is calling me from an iPhone based on the amount of static I hear and whether the call gets dropped midway through.
The assumption many make is that this is all AT&T's fault. But the truth is we don't know. I've read reports from users overseas having the same dropped call issues—and they're not on AT&T.
Many of these dropped calls are likely due to the iPhone 4's well-established "proximity sensor" issue. That is, the phone doesn't properly register when it is next to your ear, so the screen turns on and your head pushes the end call button. The latest iOS 4.1 release was supposed to fix those issues—it didn't.
Will this problem go away on Verizon? We just don't know. The proximity sensor is either a hardware or software issue that Apple has been unable to resolve. But I'm willing to go out on a limb and say it will probably be better.
Of course, you could also just get one of the many great Android phones on Verizon today and not wait around for the iPhone to come.
Conclusion: Good (probably)
2. Can't use it overseas
The Verizon network uses a technology called CDMA that is only used in many fewer countries than the GSM technology employed by AT&T. You will find CDMA networks primarily in East Asia and a sampling of other countries, most of which are unlikely to be on your next business trip or vacation agenda.
From what we're hearing, the Verizon iPhone will only have a CDMA radio. So if you frequently travel overseas, you'll be out of luck with your Verizon iPhone.
Conclusion: Bad (probably)
3. Verizon is rolling out a 4G network (LTE)
Verizon's 4G LTE network promises to be much faster than current 3G networks. Of course, AT&T is promising to roll one out, too.
Who will have coverage in your city? Will the Verizon iPhone be capable of 4G? Time will tell.
4. No talking and using the web at the same time
As AT&T loves to remind us, a limitation of Verizon's network is that you can't talk on the phone and browse the web at the same time. Say, if you're on a call with a friend and want to look up an address for a restaurant, you're out of luck
In practice, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've needed to do this (though my wife says she does it all the time). And Verizon's new 4G network will provide this ability (though we don't know if the Verizon iPhone will be 4G).
Conclusion: Bad (but not as bad as AT&T would lead us to believe)
5. Unlimited data plans are going away
Verizon has announced it will be eliminating unlimited data plans over the next 4-6 months. And iPhones, like any smartphone, consume a lot of data as you browse the web, stream videos and music and generally do all the things that make iPhones so great.
AT&T eliminated its unlimited data plans earlier this year, but allowed existing customers to remain grandfathered in. If you're part of this group and you're a big data junkie, moving to Verizon may not make sense.
Conclusion: Bad (but it's bad for new subscribers on AT&T, too)
6. There could be new flaws with the Verizon iPhone
I always advise people to avoid rushing out and getting a brand new product just as it's rolling out into stores. No one ever listens to me. But the fact is that new tech products—all new products—have issues. Sometimes these issues are pretty annoying and can take a while to get fixed (like the proximity sensor problem).
So my advice (which you will likely ignore) is to wait for 2-3 months after the Verizon iPhone is launched (if it's launched) before buying to ensure that any deal-killer issues are resolved.
7. Verizon may load it with crapware
Verizon has lately been showing a propensity to risk screwing up a great phone in order to make a quick buck. The recently launched Samsung Fascinate replaced Google Nav—a great, free navigation app—with Verizon's sub-par Verizon Navigator, which requires a $9.99 month service fee. And many Verizon phones come with generous amounts of bloatware—applications that you neither need or want, but are there because someone is paying Verizon to put them there.
Will the iPhone under Verizon suffer the same fate? Or does Steve Jobs hold enough market clout to force Verizon to keep the iPhone experience as pure as on AT&T?
8. It may never arrive
Yes, it's possible that Apple and Verizon will not be able to come to business terms. Or, if they do, it may not be rolled out until June, when Apple typically rolls out its new products. Or it could be June 2012.