Battery Life

With a new baseband comes new battery life. We ran our usual suite of battery life tests on the Verizon iPhone 4. I was running the last test - WiFi battery life test - when it was time to hop on the plane for MWC. That test hopefully won't change too much, as it's the same WiFi/Bluetooth stack as the previous iPhone 4. As soon as we're back, it'll get tested and the graph will appear. One of the other things we've been working on is a WiFi hotspot battery life test. I've been gathering numbers from every phone so far with official support for WiFi tethering, the iPhone 4 on Verizon will be put to the test the same way. 

Update: We've added the WiFi web browsing battery life numbers down below, and they're class leading. WiFi tethering numbers are coming soon.

3G Web Browsing Battery Life

3G Talk Time Battery Life

WiFi Web Browsing Battery Life

Call time is shockingly close between the two iPhone 4s. The Verizon iPhone 4 also soundly beats the AT&T iPhone 4 in the 3G web browsing and WiFi battery life department, shooting it to the top of our chart. Qualcomm's MDM6600 appears to be comparable if not better than the Infineon in the power department, though it's hard to be sure without having HSPA working for a direct comparison.

Final Thoughts

So the long-awaited Verizon iPhone 4 is finally here. It's functionally the same as the GSM/UMTS iPhone 4 on AT&T, except significantly less prone to unintended signal attenuation from being held thanks to receive diversity through two cellular antennas. Battery life is the same or better than the AT&T iPhone 4, GPS is slightly more precise, Verizon lets you turn your phone into a WiFi hotspot if you pay the fare, and SMS concatenation even works on Verizon's network. There's really nothing to complain about at all or point out as being inordinate about the CDMA iPhone - it's simply an iPhone 4 on Verizon's network.


At the same time, so many more questions linger. Where is the elusive White iPhone 4? What will iPhone 5 bring when it arrives presumably during the normal summer refresh cadence? Is the MDM6600 the baseband Apple will go with for the next device as well, perhaps this next time including the power amps necessary for dual-mode operation? It's impossible to say for sure what will happen, and we rarely dabble in such murky, speculative waters.

I have no doubt that tomes have been written about the differences between AT&T and Verizon already. It's a debate that has raged on like some sort of cellular analog of the 100-year-war, with each camp ideologically entrenched and beyond the point of reason. Ultimately, picking which is better is a matter of making tradeoffs. There's no simple way to answer which is the "better" carrier, as the figures of merit change from person to person. If voice calls are what's absolutely most important to you, get the Verizon iPhone. If much faster 3G data is what's most important to you, get the AT&T iPhone. If having more ubiquitous data coverage (at the expense of speed) sounds reasonable, get the Verizon iPhone. If the simultaneous voice/text and data issue is something you feel strongly about, get the AT&T version. Above all else, find out who has better coverage in the areas that actually matter to you - the workplace, at home, and along daily commute. Until carriers report coverage with actual numbers and following some standard, take coverage maps with a hearty dose of skepticism. The only way to know for certain is to either borrow a friend or his phone, or make liberal use of return policies.

Ultimately, the larger net effect of the Verizon iPhone 4 will be to increase pressure on Android. Verizon is the carrier that Google's platform has arguably enjoyed the most success with. Having an iPhone doing direct battle on the same carrier isn't so much optional for Apple anymore as it is necessity. Even if you disagree with the philosophical choices that iOS has made, you have to hand it to Apple for catalyzing changes that will force carrier competition based on the merits of their networks.

Subtle Nuances, Display, and the new Bumper
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  • shakyone - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    Wife got the VZ iPhone 6 days ago. I use an Android phone. After one week, I have yet to experience one dropped call of 23, since it arrived, (used Android's call Log). It is as reliable as her VZ Blackberry. The audio is as good too. My brother has an AT&T iPhone 3GS. I don't talk to him that often, but it has dropped calls on me 3 of the last 7 times I called him in the last four months. I don't have much experience with friends that have the AT&T iPhone 4G.
  • MonkeyPaw - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    ATT iPhone 3G user here. I have dropped calls all the time. Doesn't matter where I am. Our other phone is a cheap T-mobile phone, and even with a cheap 2 year old flip phone, calls rarely failed. The worst that happened was poor call quality on occasion.
  • Wiggy McShades - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    Where do you live? I'm in the Boston area and have never once had a dropped call using an iphone 3g and now an iphone 4. I'm pretty certain my location is why I've had such a great experience with at&t, are you not near a major city? Or is it really just luck that the area I'm in is well covered?
  • JimmiG - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    That really is abysmally slow.. not fast enough to watch video at decent quality, for example. I get around 3500kbps down/1400 up in my apartment on the outskirts of town using the HTC Desire and HSDPA, faster near urban centers.

    I wouldn't call it a smartphone unless you get at least 2Mb, maybe 1.5Mb/s out of it, since slower speeds render many of the features unusable, limiting you to texting and maybe browsing with images turned off.
  • dagamer34 - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    Some signal is better than no signal at all.
  • Shadowself - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    This is *absolutely* true. Some signal is better than none.

    However, as the article mentions, this is very dependent on the individual. One person may almost never experience dropped calls on AT&T due to where and when they use their phone. In such a situation that person may adamantly prefer the AT&T iPhone over the Verison model. Alternately, another person may use their phone -- even in the same city -- in locals and at times where the phone routinely drops calls due to AT&T's network issues. In this case that user would just as adamantly prefer Verison over AT&T.

    My wife's personal experience is that the parking lot of her office is a true Verizon dead zone. There is virtually no detectable signal there at all even with very sophisticated equipment and large antennas. You have to move several hundred yards from her parking lot (in almost any direction) for any Verizon phone to work. Verizon has known about this dead spot for over 8 years and has yet to negotiate a new tower in the area (or modify existing towers) to fill that hole. Therefore, for her Verizon is not an option.

    It all comes down to what you need and *your" use.
  • vol7ron - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    Oh no. These Verizon vs AT&T flame-wars are almost worse than the Microsoft vs Apple.

    At least in the later, you had a constant product difference. In service providers its subject to location. And in major cities, I've never had a problem with AT&T except in metros, where they didn't have antennas and Vzn decided to put some up and large venues where you got a lot of units in one tight area at the same time, like large conferences or concerts.

    I've had just as much trouble with Verizon black spots as I've had with AT&T. It's all based on where you are and where you travel.
  • asandok - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    In ifixit's teardown they say the wi-fi antenna is what you point out to be the cell antenna. Which is it? It looks like they made a boo boo. Awesome write up though! Love these!
  • Brian Klug - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    Indeed, the component they pointed to and called the WiFi antenna is the first of two cellular feed lines, and that part has indeed not changed. It's for cellular (and was on the GSM/UMTS iPhone) and not WiFi. Even the FCC correctly labels it as being a feed line for cellular. WiFi has always been at the top in the same place with the same package, though the WiFi antenna did change slightly with the Verizon version.

  • Montrey - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    Funny you mention how inaudible the vibrate is. I had my Verizon iPhone on vibrate during a physics test Friday, it rang in the pocket of my jeans and my professor heard it 20 feet away and threatened to kick me out if I didn't turn off my phone. Maybe he just has superhuman hearing, I thought it was pretty quiet, especially compared to the droid eris it just replaced.

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