The Verizon iPhone is currently shipping to lucky pre-order customers, and Verizon had so many pre-orders in the first day they had to shut their iPhone website down. The Verizon iPhone is clearly the new hot gadget, but what exactly sets the Verizon version apart from the AT&T one? If you’re thinking of moving or just want to be aware of their differences, here’s a simple look at what exactly makes these phones different.

1. AT&T’s GSM network is global

AT&T’s network uses GSM, a standard that is also used all across the world. If you were to unlock your AT&T iPhone and go to Europe, you could simply swap out the SIM card already in your iPhone with one from a European provider and  the iPhone  would work normally. With the Verizon iPhone, however, the radio limits it to the United States only

2. GSM Allows for simultaneous Voice & Data

Perhaps the biggest difference between these phones is the AT&T model’s ability to do voice and data at the same time. One of the first iPhone commercials ever showed a person getting directions somewhere while in the middle of a phone call, but that’s not going to be possible with the Verizon version of the iPhone. Unless you’re connected to a WiFi network, being on a phone call disables the data (Internet) abilities of the phone. While on a call, you’re simply not able to use the Browser, Maps, or any other Internet apps.

3. Speed and Coverage

Verizon has 3G coverage for most of America, while AT&T has less 3G coverage. A&T’s 3G, however, is noticeably faster than Verizon’s. If you live in a place that has strong AT&T 3G coverage, there may be no reason to switch to Verizon. If, however, you’re in a place that only gets EDGE service on AT&T, the Verizon iPhone could give you a significant speed increase.

4. Wireless Hotspot

Verizon also has enabled a feature of the iPhone that’s available in other places in the world: wireless hotspot functionality. For an extra $20 a month on the Verizon iPhone, you’ll be able to turn the device into a wireless hotspot. That means that you can use it to create a WiFi signal, and then connect WiFi devices like laptops, desktop PCs or an iPad and share the Internet with them.

Wireless hotspot is great if you’re traveling, away from your home or in a pinch. AT&T has not allowed this service as of now, although a jailbroken iPhone can be made into a WiFi device if you’re willing to break your Terms of Service.

5. Verizon’s data is uncapped

Verizon’s “unlimited” data plan is actually unlimited. AT&T has a 2GB monthly cap on their subscriber’s bandwidth, which is a good amount but is definitely possible to hit with a a lot of use. AT&T has said that they will provide unlimited bandwidth to iPhone users who would switch to Verizon otherwise, but this is not their standard practice and who knows how long it will last. As a Verizon customer, I have had unlimited data for as long as I’ve had a smartphone, and it will surely last for the foreseeable future.

6. Conclusion

In the end, since the devices look exactly the same, it’s really up to your personal situation which one will be best for you. If you think you’re going to need voice and data at the same time, pick AT&T (though, as a Verizon customer, I’ve never found this limitation to be any kind of an issue at all). If you are living in an area that has weak AT&T coverage, or think you’ll be using more than 2GB of bandwidth a month, Verizon could be a great choice.

For reference, he’s a chart comparing some of the key differences between devices:

Feature Verizon AT&T
Global Usability No Yes
Simultaneous Voice & Data No Yes
Network Strong Point Coverage Area Maximum Speed
WiFi Hotspot Functionality Yes No
Data Bandwidth Cap None 2GB

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