AT&T vs Verizon on the iPhone 5
I had a few questions after my last post on why I chose Verizon over AT&T for the iPhone 5. Rather than add a long winded explanation on that (already) long post, I thought I’d provide my analysis here for those who were considering a switch. There are plenty of comparison posts I’ve seen about this, but all of them tried to be a little too “even” about the options a consumer has.
I’ve been an iPhone customer since the launch in 2007 and have had every version released afterwards on AT&T. I’ve put up with quite a bit as an AT&T customer, and for a good part of the AT&T relationship, customers had no option but AT&T. That’s obviously different now, but I’ve had years of dealing with AT&T to get to this point.
First a few important things:
- LTE is important to me, but AT&T has no LTE support in Seattle. Being in Seattle and buying an LTE phone, I want LTE now. This is a huge problem for AT&T.
- AT&T has, every year, offered “loyalty” discounts to previous iPhone buyers to keep them on their network. It’s a sweet deal (and I’m sure it’s very costly for AT&T), but it’s kept me with them every single year. Essentially customers who bought every year on launch day would be able to upgrade with the next iPhone at new customer prices. For this discount, you optioned for another 2 year commitment with AT&T. Great deal, but not the case this year.
- I bought an iPhone 4S, so this is important.
With AT&T not offering the same discount that they have in previous years, the economics of staying with AT&T really aren’t that sexy. I don’t know why AT&T did the pricing like they did. It essentially pushes customers to consider other carriers if they bought an iPhone 4S.
In that scenario, the price of an upgrade to a 32GB iPhone 5 was $549 (as opposed to $299 as in previous years). But the real kicker is that the early termination fee of my current AT&T contract is $215… so, if I switch to Verizon, pay $299 for a 32GB iPhone 5, and pay my ETF with AT&T, I actually come out ahead (by a small amount). With selling my old iPhone 4S it’s not such a bad deal. But it’s a good deal for iPhone users because…
The Verizon iPhone 5 is a true world phone. Unlike the AT&T iPhone, which is just GSM, the Verizon one does just about everything: (CDMA model A1429*: CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1900, 2100 MHz); UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); LTE (Bands 1, 3, 5, 13, 25)). That’s the best of all worlds.
Verizon’s LTE network is also substantially faster than AT&T’s. I have a Verizon iPad 3, and it’s simply awesome, and is faster than my home network most of the time. I can’t wait to have this on my new iPhone 5.
But honestly, it’s more about how AT&T has been as a partner that makes me want to leave them. The relationship has never been good from day 1:
- Early iPhone usage was dog slow, as AT&T’s network couldn’t deal with the traffic. It was horrible at times for anyone who was an early iPhone user. This was the case for years.
- When Apple finally got MMS into the iPhone, AT&T users had to wait months until AT&T was able to upgrade their network to support it, despite other phones already having MMS.
- When Apple provided tethering and hotspots in iOS, AT&T customers had to pay additional fees.
- When Apple announced FaceTime in iOS6, AT&T required users to switch from previous plans they had in order to take advantage of the feature.
- AT&T still doesn’t have an LTE network in many markets, and most importantly if you are in Seattle, you will not get LTE on AT&T right now. It’s coming in 2012, but it’s not here yet.