Verizon iPhone vs AT&T iPhone: which is better? - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Verizon iPhone vs AT&T iPhone: which is better?

By Dennis Washington

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Faster and more reliable... that's the hype surrounding the Apple iPhone 4 for Verizon. But is the iPhone really that much better on Verizon than on rival carrier AT&T? The answer so far in Birmingham is... no.

To test the phones, I traveled to four locations around Birmingham on Monday to conduct field testing on a new Verizon iPhone and my AT&T iPhone.  I compared signal strength, upload and download speeds, and load times between the iPhones on the two networks.  The results of my tests are below.

THE LOCATIONS

Fieldstown Road at Interstate 65 in Fultondale served as the first location. I tested the phones from the parking lot of the big shopping center. Next, I drove to 19th Street North in Bessemer and tested the phones from the Jack's parking lot near Interstate 59.  Then, I drove to the top of the parking deck at Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, and I ended my trip in the parking lot of the Pinnacle shopping center in Trussville.



THE TESTS

I ran four tests each in four locations around Birmingham:

- Fultondale
- Bessemer
- Hoover
- Trussville



First, I checked the number of bars that appeared in the signal strength meter. As I learned in the past year, bars are not an accurate measure of service strength because they fluctuate so often and can be manipulated by the device.  However, they are still an indicator for many people of service.

Then, I downloaded and installed the RootMetrics iPhone app. This app measures signal strength, download speed, and upload speed.

Next, I uploaded a generic photo to Facebook (the same picture on both phones for each location) and finally I loaded the GiantBomb.com website.


THE RESULTS

Of the 20 tests, three were a tie, AT&T won nine, and Verizon won eight.

However, if you remove the arbitrary signal strength tests, then AT&T and Verizon each won eight.

 
FULTONDALE

BESSEMER

HOOVER

TRUSSVILLE

Bars
AT&T
tie
tie
tie
Download
AT&T
Verizon
AT&T
Verizon
Upload
Verizon
AT&T
AT&T
AT&T
Photo uploading
AT&T
AT&T
Verizon
Verizon
Load a Web site
Verizon
Verizon
Verizon
AT&T



Digging deeper into the results, Verizon was consistently faster in download speeds.  The Verizon iPhone delivered a minimum of 400 kbps download speed in all four locations.  AT&T had a faster download speed than Verizon in two of the four locations, but its download speeds were also more inconsistent.

This pattern was apparent in the load time tests. In three of the four locations, the Verizon iPhone loaded the GiantBomb.com website faster than the AT&T iPhone. In Bessemer, the Verizon iPhone loaded the website more than twice as fast.

On the other hand, AT&T tested better in upload speeds.  The AT&T iPhone, in three of the four locations, measured upload speeds near 300 kbps, whereas the Verizon iPhone in all four tests delivered upload speeds between 150 and 200 kbps.

Uploading a picture to Facebook, however, showed very little difference between the two networks. Upload times were consistently between six and eight seconds at every location.

 
FULTONDALE

BESSEMER

HOOVER

TRUSSVILLE

Test 1: Number of bars
AT&T 5
5
5
5
Verizon 4
5
5
5
Test 2: Download/upload speeds*
AT&T
Download: 414 Kbps
Upload: 135 Kbps
Download: 204 Kbps
Upload: 298 Kbps
Download: 417 Kbps
Upload: 274 Kbps
Download: 211 Kbps
Upload: 273 Kbps
Verizon
Download: 400 Kbps
Upload: 163 Kbps
Download: 412 Kbps
Upload: 176 Kbps
Download: 415 Kbps
Upload: 153 Kbps
Download: 419 Kbps
Upload: 200 Kbps
Test 3: Photo uploading
AT&T 7 seconds
7 seconds
8 seconds
7 seconds
Verizon 8 seconds
8 seconds
7 seconds
6 seconds
Test 4: Loading a Web site
AT&T 20 seconds
25 seconds
21 seconds
13 seconds
Verizon 17 seconds
12 seconds
15 seconds
14 seconds

*Measurements taken from RootMetrics test.

Keep in mind, these test results are my experience. Results in your area may different and may also change over time. Coverage depends heavily on your exact location and even the time of day.

In addition, these tests were done with very few Verizon iPhones in service.  Data speeds could change as the number of Verizon iPhone users grows.

Finally, these are data tests only.  None of these tests measured call quality or long-term stability of either network, although speed tests do often reflect a network's ability to handle high amounts of voice and data traffic.


THE BOTTOM LINE

Neither Verizon nor AT&T out-performed each other in iPhone data speed tests in the Birmingham area.  Both phones delivered a solid performance on the 3G networks.

Copyright 2011 WBRC. All rights reserved.

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