AT&T to More Sluggish Verizon: Can You Hear Me Now?

Verizon iPhone

We wondered if this would be true: An investigation into Verizon's iPhone data performance reveals a sad reality. Get used to waiting, iPhone lovers. No network, it seems can sufficiently handle the red-hot Apple product properly.

Verizon's iPhone was a burning rumor topic for ages since Apple refused to apply a multi-carrier model it used around the world, effectively locking U.S. users into AT&T's network—the source of many coverage woes for many millions of consumers. Now the Verizon iPhone is a reality, and an undisclosed number of (presumably) hundreds of thousands of units are nestling in Verizon subscriber's pockets and purses. And they're not any better than phones on the other service, according to new research by Metrico. And they could be worse.

Metrico is an analytics firm specializing in measuring the performance of mobile handsets from a user experience point of view, and they've completed a thorough investigation of the real-world performance of Verizon's CDMA iPhone, which comes with slightly modified innards and an adjusted antenna-chassis design that may be aimed at reducing the effects of Antennagate problems with the GSM iPhone 4 edition.

If you think the two phones are more or less the same, Metrico has a surprise for you: They're actually pretty different. According to Metrico, the Verizon model performed "below average" in terms of download speed for mobile data, compared to other Verizon iPhones including the HTC Incredible. It was excellent at canceling noise during voice calls, trouncing many competitor handsets, but voice quality was merely average. AT&T's iPhone outperformed all others in terms of mobile data download rates, on the other hand, and while it too wasn't as good at voice calls than some of its peers on AT&T's network, it completed 10% more downloads while on the move. Verizon's iPhone scored 10% greater success when stationary compared to AT&T's, but that somewhat defeats the notion of "mobile" data access. The killer stat? AT&T's data rates are, on average, twice as fast as Verizon's.

What's going on here? The iPhone hardware is pretty common between the two networks, so what Metrico's actually sampling is performance differences between Verizon and AT&T's two cellular networks, in a real-world setting far-removed from dry and implausible laboratory test situations. Metrico's not sure if the Verizon iPhone is speed-throttled in software deliberately on the network, placing it in the "below average" category, to protect the network from being swamped by millions of data-hungry iPhoners.

But one thing is certain: Just as we suspected, Verizon's iPhone isn't a panacea for the woes of U.S.-based iPhone fans fed up of poor performance from AT&T. Perhaps it's time to put all of your hopes into the next (maybe metal-backed) iPhone 5 rumor bucket.

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