Now that the Verizon Wireless iPhone is finally a reality, what’s the real difference between the AT&T and Verizon versions?
The basic hardware is identical, save for the CDMA/EV-DO radio in the Verizon version and the GSM/EDGE/3G radio in AT&T’s. Hardware pricing is the same, too, starting at $199 for the 16 GB model, with a two-year contract.
Network differences produce two big distinctions: On AT&T, you can get data–load a Web page, check email, Twitter, or look at a map–while in a voice call. On Verizon, you can’t. The other significant difference is that the Verizon model allows the phone to be used as a mobile Wi-Fi hot spot, a much superior technology to the tethered modem offered on AT&T. For example, you can reach the internet with a Wi-Fi only iPad using a hot spot, but not through a tethered modem. But this is a feature AT&T can match in a heartbeat.
The bigger difference, for folks who travel extensively, is that Verizon’s CDMA iPhone will work in the U.S. and Canada, but not in much of the rest of the world. The AT&T version is a true world phone, though roaming charges can be steep.
Verizon Wireless didn’t provide data pricing for the iPhone, but let’s do a comparison based on the assumption that it will be priced the same as service for an Android phone. On AT&T, unlimited voice service is $70 a month and unlimited messaging is $20. Data costs $25 a month for 2 GB with overage billed at $10 per gigabyte in increments of 1 GB. Tethering adds $20 a month. There’s also a 200 MB per month plan for light users at $15.
Verizon’s unlimited voice costs the same $70 a month. There’s no simple unlimited messaging plan, but you can get 5,000 messages per month plus unlimited messages to other Verizon phones for $20. Unlimited data costs $30 a month. Mobile hot spot services adds $20 a month for 2 GB.
The bottom line: At either AT&T or Verizon, unlimited voice a (more or less) unlimited messaging costs $90 a month. Without tethering or hot spot service, you’ll pay $25 for 2 gigabytes and $35 for 3 GB at AT&T; at Verizon, you’ll pay $30 for any amount.
Tethering/hot spot is where things get complicated. At AT&T you pay $20 a month for the right to tether and the data usage is charged against your allowance. At Verizon, you pay $20 for hot spot service and usage is charged against a separate allowance.
In either case, you’ll have to pay additional charges is you want to use your phone to connect to a Microsoft Exchange mail service.