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Verizon Wireless is finally accepting iPhone 4 preorders from existing customers today, and that means the embargo has been lifted on reviews of the new handset. A flood of such reviews hit late Wednesday night, and there aren’t too many surprises to be found.
MacRumors has assembled quotes from four key reviews of Verizon’s iPhone 4, which essentially break down to “It’s the same phone, but with better voice reception and slower data.” Cosmetically, Verizon’s iPhone 4 does feature a few small changes, most notably the mute and volume buttons have been shifted a bit lower and there are now two black antenna bands on each long side of the handset, presumably either an adjustment for the new CDMA antenna or a slight improvement to fight the dreaded “death grip” that plagued the device early on.
Ironically, the fabled “death grip” appears to still be at least a minor issue with Verizon’s model -- several reviewers were able to watch the reception bars drop while holding the handset a certain way, although it never affected the quality of a call in progress. TechCrunch was a notable exception, claiming “this Verizon version of the iPhone 4 seems to have none of the same antenna issues.”
All Things D’s Walt Mossberg noted that the Verizon model was better with voice calls, but the AT&T model is still the fastest with 3G data. “AT&T’s network averaged 46 percent faster at download speeds and 24 percent faster at upload speeds,” Mossberg writes. Engadget seems to concur, claiming “data rates on the Verizon iPhone 4 we tested were dramatically slower than those on its AT&T counterpart.”
The slower 3G speeds should come as no surprise to anyone who’s used Verizon for data -- while the company can boast about having better coverage than AT&T, Big Red’s network has been tested time and time again as the slower one.
TechCrunch got “a solid four hours” of Mobile Hotspot time, the latest feature to land in the otherwise modest iOS 4.2.6 update shipping with the Verizon unit. That’s on par with dedicated mobile hotspot devices such as the MiFi 2200. Unfortunately, all of the reviews noted that calls take priority on a Verizon 3G network, so if you get a call during a Mobile Hotspot session, you’ll be disconnected -- although your session will resume when you disconnect the call.
Where Verizon’s iPhone 4 appears to really shine is with voice calls. TechCrunch noted the new handset received a much better signal and no dropped calls in San Francisco, which is a notorious AT&T dropped call area. Engadget agreed, claiming “calls were consistently connected and uninterrupted, far more often than our AT&T calls in the same time period in similar locations.”
The long and the short of it appears to be that the Verizon iPhone 4 is the better choice for heavy talkers -- but infrequent voice users looking for faster data speeds (particularly in areas that can handle it) are still best served by AT&T.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter