Switching… Again
by Jon on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 file under: Commentary

In the Apple community the verb switching has meant various things in the last decade. Seven years ago if you would have heard the term switching in the context of Apple, you'd have thought about getting rid of your PC and getting a Mac. Four years ago the same term signified Apple's transition from PowerPC processors in their computers, workstations, and servers to Intel processors more commonly found in Windows computers and low cost servers. But at the beginning of 2011, switching takes on a third meaning, at least in the US. And from a customer perspective it has less to do with the relationship with Apple and themselves, but instead introduces a new third party choice of network operator: Verizon.

I'll be up front, Kortney and I are planning to have Verizon iPhones on February 10th. We may not port our number over immediately due to a vacation in the middle of February, but we'll be ready to switch as soon as possible.

I've read almost deafening cries about why this is a dumb idea: the iPhone 5 is right around the corner, Verizon's network is slower, you can't use data while on a call, etc. Guess what: none of those things matter for some people. I'll address each of these claims in order.

Apple has released new phone hardware like clockwork every year since the first iPhone was released. Undoubtedly, Apple will release their fifth revision iPhone in June with a dual core processor, longer battery life, and world mode radios. Is that stopping people from buying iPhones on AT&T or other networks now? Of course not. Sometimes you just need a new phone. In my case, I'll be replacing my long in the tooth 3G and Kortney's Sony Ericsson feature phone. Based on the resale values of current used iPhone 4s, I imagine that we'll be able to "upgrade" to the iPhone 5 if we choose for a modest upgrade fee. But when it comes down to it, the iPhone 4 is available now (or at least soon), and the iPhone 5 and its feature list is only known to Apple and perhaps its suppliers.

Verizon's peak network speed is admittedly slower than AT&Ts with one major difference: Verizon provides reasonable service in the major metropolitan areas I frequent. I don't care if I can theoretically download at 1.5 Mbps on AT&T, I can actually download at >500 Kbps on Verizon. I recently did a speed test on my phone while in downtown Seattle. I averaged 536 Kbps. That's right around what Verizon is offering. I guess I won't notice any slowdown.

No Signal in Downtown Seattle

I'll concede the last point, I won't be able to use data while on a call. That isn't much different from my AT&T experience, however, where I often cannot make a call... or get on a data network. It will actually be an improvement over my current situation, as I'll be able to reliably talk on the phone or use the internet. I consider that an upgrade, despite the annoying limitation.

For over two years, we've dealt with atrocious service with AT&T in the Phoenix and Seattle Metro areas. AT&T has failed to provide reliable service, despite collecting thousands of dollars from me and each of the millions of other smartphone users on their network. Like the switch from PC to Mac, or PowerPC to Intel, the switch to Verizon looks to usher in a welcome improvement in my connected lifestyle.

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