Now that all the web traffic has died down from the anemic Verizon announcement, lets ask the critical questions;  Which should it get? The Verizon or the AT&T iphone?  The answer is actually easier then you may thing with one very big condition.  We will hit that condition in a second, but here is the quick answer.  I’m going to get the iphone with Verizon, and then sell it and get an Android running 4G and wait the 18 months before the Verizon iphone 5 comes out running on LTE. I’ll explain at the end of this post.

UPDATE:  I posted a question on Quara to see what people see in the real world vs. my one test I did in a high connection environment and got an interesting answer from David Boreham

In my work I carry both ATT and Verizon phones. I travel around the USA and I always test network speed on both carriers. I have never, ever seen a case where ATT was faster. Often the speed is quite close, but typically upload speed on ATT is significantly slower than VZW, In my experience the big difference between the two carriers is that the probability of service being ‘usable’ is much higher on Verizon. If they’re both working well then the speed difference isn’t noticeable, but often ATT doesn’t work well (either has no coverage, or coverage with poor QoS).

I replied back that it makes total sense that if your connection to the AT&T tower is not strong, you are going to lose data speed because of error correction.  Also if you are moving around and switching towers, you will lose some data rate in the handoff.

First, what is the big difference between the Verizon CDMA and AT&T UMTS system as a user? Skipping the technical details; there are two main differences. 1) UMTS is faster then CDMA.  Almost twice as fast!  Have a look at this graphic from PCW.

AT&T is  twice as fast in both download and upload speed.  If you are doing a lot of surfing or downloading large files, you can really feel the difference.

We have AT&T with 1410 kbps and Verizon at 877 kbps giving 1410 / 877 = 1.6 times faster.

The second big difference is that with UMTS you can both talk on the phone and use the data system.  Now your first reaction (and what they Verizon people at the presentation said when asked) how often is that going to happen?  As an iphone user for near 3 years; he’s right. Its not very often.  UNLESS you are tethering.  THEN it matters. Which brings us to the big condition I talked about in the beginning of this post.

Are the rumors true that you get 5gigs of tether data included with your unlimited data plan? Lets say they are. AND lets say you are not jailbroken and thus do not use PDANet for tethering and creating a wifi spot.  Then this could be an important feature because as we are becoming more and more connected and more loaded with internet enabled devices; this could make the difference.

But; if you KNOW you will never (or almost never) will need to tether or create a wifi hotspot using your phone, then this condition falls away.

So far, it looks like there is no reason to move to Verizon.  Its slower, and will kick you offline if a call comes in.  So why are people so excited?  Because ITS THERE!!!  In other words, a slow 3G CDMA is better then the AT&T edge service which many people are forced to live with.  Also Verizon has a much better coverage in both data and voice.  So if you live somewhere where AT&T 3G is not available or very sketchy, Verizon is you best bet.

Now lets make the question harder.  What if you live in an area with coverage is spotty.  Like the bay area.  THEN which is the best bet?  NOW we are asking the hard question, and the one I’ve been trying answer.

I have not updated my AT&T account because I was not sure if I wanted to stay with AT&T or not. I get lots of dropped calls at home, sometimes at work and only 30% uptight at my girlfriends. So now how does the math work?

The answer depends on how much data burst speed you need on your phone, and when I say data burst speed, I mean when you need to make a ping to the internet and get some sort of reply quickly.  For example, maps.  If you want to quickly pull up your maps and see where you are, you want the map tiles to download as fast as possible.  If you are panning around quickly, then every time you move the map off the current tiles set, you need new tiles.  I did a side by side test and I could feel a slight difference between ATT and Verizon.  I tried downloading a web page. NYT.  The speed difference is noticeable.  Tried sending an tweet with an attached image; although it was only about 2 -3 seconds slower, I could still feel it … and yet I’m leaning on going with Verizon.  Why?

Because I would rather have slow then no connection at all.  And as I said above, in 18 months there will be a new phone using the 4G network.  Here is the twist though.  I’m going to get the iphone 4 with the two year plan.  Then sell it and get a 4g phone running android and wait for the 4G iphone.  At least; that is the plan.  I’m going to let the Verizon phone live in the wild for a month before I do anything.

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