I have not had a chance to get my grubby little hands on the Verizon iPhone, but some journalists have had the opportunity to test the VeriPhone for a few weeks and the results are pretty much the same:
AT&T is faster in download speeds for data (webpages, email) but Verizon is much more reliable. Some of the writers have even canceled their AT&T contracts, or not renewed them, and write that they are signing up with Verizon to get iPhone.
Beginning at 3 a.m. Thursday, existing Verizon customers can get iPhone after four years of waiting. The rest of the U.S. can get one Thursday Feb. 10, beginning at 7 a.m. Verizon stores will open early and allow customers to line up outside at 5 a.m. in North Carolina.
AT&T has bumped up its data packages and all but revealed it will match Verizon's best new iPhone feature -- the ability to make the phone a WiFi hotspot for up to five devices.
AT&T is also trumping the ability of its phones, which run a different operating standard than Verizon, that allows you to make voice calls and surf the web or download email at the same time. You can't do that on Verizon.
On Verizon, if you're using the HotSpot (or data at all) and a call comes in, you can choose to take it, but your data session disconnects. Not really cool if you have others using it at the same time. And as an iPhone owner for two years, I use voice and data quite a bit. But there are 90 million Verizon customers who have no idea what I'm talking about and won't care when they are holding the Apple device in their hand.
And the flip side of this is reliability. A lot of readers here are turned off by AT&T's coverage, saying they drop calls often and can't get service often. I think some of that is true.
I rarely have dropped calls, but I do have them.
Driving up Independence Boulevard, near Matthews? Drop.
Driving anywhere along 485 going from south Charlotte to north? Drop.
Sometimes between my bedroom and living room, in the middle of a really important call?
And there are weird places uptown and along Sardis Road or Harris Boulevard that, for me, you can just forget about it.
But AT&T is fast over 3G when you get it. A lot faster, the testers report, than Verizon.
I've gotten a lot of email recently from Verizon customers asking whether they should switch to iPhone or just get a Droid. I have AT&T folks asking if they should break a contract to switch.
I've never had Verizon service here, but have many friends who swear by it. I have used their phones in small towns and gyms and airports where my iPhone just wouldn't work. I believe the service is better. I also believe the iPhone is clearly superior to any Droid I've tested, and I've tested all the exotic Droids that have been released up to now.
Android packs a lot of specs and features. A new one coming out for AT&T will even power a laptop computer. I just can't figure out why I'd want my phone to morph into or power a laptop. I'd just use the laptop.
What makes iPhone superior and clearly so, is the user experience. Android is different on many devices you try and it's kind of techy. It can be hard to figure out and often, for many of my Droid-using friends, it's been buggy (reboot, reboot, reboot).
I can give my iPhone to my decidedly ungeeky 72-year-old Mom and she can navigate around.
It's easy to use and it works and there's a reason, way beyond the "look at me I have an iPhone" thing, that makes people so loyal to it and makes them line up before stores open. I don't see people lining up for the new Droids, many of which are killer devices that will be better than most anything before it.
But my iPhone advice is this: if you are in contract with AT&T, wait. I believe a new iPhone 5 will come out for both AT&T and Verizon in June. If I'm wrong, you'll stay in contract for a few more months which will bring down your early termination fee by then.
If you're AT&T and out of contract and don't mind that a new phone may come soon, go ahead and jump.
If you're Verizon existing, think the same as the out of contract AT&T guy.
Ultimately, I think it may be best to wait. If rumors are to be believed, iPhone 5 will use Verizon's super fast 4G network and allow voice and data at the same time -- and be faster than AT&T.
That's the girl, the gold watch -- and everything.
Can you wait a little longer?