The Great Debate: Verizon iPhone 4 or Wait?

It sounds pretty damn tempting. “The phone that changed everything. Coming to the most reliable network.” We just reviewed the Verizon iPhone 4, and I expect lots and lots of people to snatch up Apple’s gorgeous and powerful device come February 10. (Online pre-orders for existing Verizon customers begins today.) On the other hand, new iPhones have debuted each summer since the original forever changed the mobile landscape. So many expect the iPhone 5 will launch on both AT&T and Verizon come June or July. Or will the AT&T version of the iPhone 5 debut in the summer and then Verizon version ar-rive in the fall?

The problem is that no one knows for sure what Apple’s plans are, which means you’ll have to decide whether to get your iTunes-lovin’, app-downloadin’ self an iPhone 4 on Verizon now or wait and see what happens. You also have to weigh the fact that Android phones are getting better all the time, and that many are available now with 4G inside (Verizon’s are imminent). We’re here to help you make the right call.

Top 5 Reasons to Get the iPhone 4 Now

1. No More Dropped Calls!

Anyone who has used the iPhone on AT&T’s network knows how maddening it can be to drop a call mid-conversation. Just last week it happened to us three times within 2 minutes while standing in Times Square. Just knowing that you’ll be able to not worry about this prob-lem—assuming the device and network works together as advertised—might be reason enough to pick the iPhone 4 on Verizon now.

2. Faster, More Reliable Data

What’s the point of having a great browser if you can’t even get simple mobile sites to load? Or a map. Or your e-mail. AT&T customers who live in areas like New York and San Fran-ciso know how frustrating it can be to have the world’s slickest brick at times. We don’t expect these issues to affect Verizon’s iPhone 4. In our side-by-side tests near Times Square, the Verizon version loaded much, much faster. And as you’ll see in our review, having more reliable data performance yields benefits for all sorts of other activities. So as long as you don’t need 4G speeds—and that can be a big if for some—the Verizon iPhone 4 will likely satisfy.

3. Data is Unlimited

With the Verizon iPhone 4 you can download as many apps, songs, web pages, e-mails, and anything else over 3G that you want. There’s no cap. On AT&T you hit the wall at 2GB. It’s as if Verizon is daring millions of customers to stress the heck out of its network.

4. iPhone 4 Beats All Other Phones on Verizon Right Now

Now, I know a lot of you might not agree, but Apple’s handset really does provide the best combination of design, software, apps, and entertainment on Verizon’s network. And I don’t see that changing in the near future.

5. You’re just can’t wait to leave AT&T

Maybe part of you just wants to exact some small measure of revenge on the network that didn’t live up to your expectations. You’re sick of the abuse, and there’s no time like the pre-sent to cut any and all ties to the bad memo-ries. Maybe AT&T can win you back some day, but you’ve just had enough.

Top 5 Reasons to Wait

1. iPhone 5 Will Offer 4G Speeds

It’s pretty safe to assume that the next iPhone will support 4G data speeds, but will it be HSPA+ (which Verizon doesn’t support) or 4G LTE (which Verizon has now and AT&T will launch by mid-year). Our money is on 4G LTE, but there’s always a chance that Apple won’t support it this summer.

2. No Simultaneous Voice and Data on Verizon iPhone

Although I don’t tend to do much other than check my calendar while gabbing, many multi-taskers find the AT&T iPhone 4’s unique ability to handle voice and data at the same time very compelling—if not indispensable. You can re-spond to e-mail while you’re on the phone, continue downloading an app, or anything else that requires a data connection. If you’re downloading or uploading something while a call comes in on the Verizon iPhone, it will cut your data session off.

3. You Can’t Travel Overseas With It

Business travelers who frequently fly to Europe or other countries that use the pervasive GSM standard should probably stick with the AT&T iPhone or wait for an LTE version that works abroad. Verizon sells a few phones that can roam with you, such as the Motorola Droid 2 Global, but its iPhone 4 will only work here.

4. 4G Phones Are Here Now

If you’re not intent on picking up the iPhone and you want the download and upload fastest speeds possible on your smart phone, you can pick up a 4G phone from Sprint or T-Mobile  now, and AT&T soon. And soon you’ll be able to get your hands on a device that will tap into Verizon’s blazing 4G LTE network. In general, the carrier promises downloads between 5 and 12 Mbps and 2 to 5 Mbps uploads. The HTC Thunderbolt, which should be arriving this month, delivered 3 Mbps downloads deep within the Las Vegas Convention Center during our initial hands-on tests.

5. Android Keeps Getting Better

During our recent face-off between Android and iOS, Android won nearly as many rounds, and there are some things the OS simply does better than Apple’s platform. It provides a more customizable user experience, free GPS navi-gation, the invaluable Google Talk and Gmail, and a wide range of design choices (including devices with physical keyboards). Where iOS excels is with ease of use, apps, and multime-dia. Yes, Android is closing the app gap, but Apple’s App Store still wins on quality.

Bottom Line: There’s a reason we just awarded the iPhone 4 for Verizon Wireless an Editors’ Choice. It’s the best phone available for the network right now, and it’s an excellent device even without 4G. Is something better on the horizon? Of course, Apple, Google, and everyone else continue to push the envelope. You’ll just need to decide whether you can—or want to—hold out based on how you view the above pros and cons.

Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.