18 Sep 2012

Talk and Surf Internet Still Missing from Verizon and Sprint iPhone 5

Verizon and Sprint on iPhone 5
I’ve been an avid iPhone aficionado since I got one back in 2006. I’ve spent countless dollars in the iTunes App Store and cough up the cash for every other new model. I keep forgiving Apple for flaws like faulty antennas, but I think I’m done – not only with AT&T, but with iPhone, too. 

Recently, as my 2-year contract with AT&T was drawing to a close, I had a lot of reasons to look for other options.

 Credit: Josh Lowensohn from CNET

Goodbye Unlimited Data
A few months ago, I called AT&T to see if there were any options to decrease my $120 phone bill. I had unlimited minutes, messaging, and text, and couldn’t continue to justify the expense. I dropped the unlimited minutes and was told that AT&T was phasing out unlimited data. When my contract ended, I would have to choose one of the limited plans. Since I seldom went over 300 MB per month because I’m usually on WiFi, I got rid of unlimited data. 

A friendly rep gave me six months of free unlimited text to get by bill down to $70/month, but it wasn’t enough to keep me from shopping around. With my cell data turned off, I started to lose my dependence on the iPhone and found some reasons to be disappointed in AT&T.

Frustration with 3G Network on AT&T
Getting weaned from the functionality of my iPhone made me aware that I like having data for GPS navigation. However, most of the time, I can’t depend on AT&T giving me a strong enough connection to depend on the iPhone for good navigational assistance. Not to mention the fact that I usually only have three bars on my iPhone when I’m at home –  and I live in a big city.

4G LTE, Verizon, and Sprint
Okay, so maybe things are going to get better with the 4G LTE network, but I had heard some other complaints about satellite internet AT&T coverage compared to Verizon and Sprint for the iPhone. I started comparing plans and pricing, but wasn’t too keen on losing the ability to talk and surf at the same. I am frequently on phone calls that require me to reference something online and, if I were to get the iPhone 5, I’m not sure that I would be willing to lose that functionality. 

Looking at network coverage maps for the areas that I live and travel to made me realize that I need to make a serious decision about my carrier before buying the iPhone 5. With AT&T, I can surf and talk at the same time, but Internet speeds are slower that LTE during a phone call. With Verizon and Sprint, I get better coverage at lower rates, but I don’t get to talk and surf at the same time if I get an iPhone 5. However, talk and surf functionality is available on Android phones.

Hello Verizon and Android!
While collecting information about cell phone options from various carriers, I even considered getting a no-frills phone on no contract for as low as $35/month from a carrier like Metro PCS. My iPhone will still serve me as a PDA when have access to WiFi after I cancel my AT&T service. Maybe I’ll get a proper GPS for my car. When I started reading reviews of the iPhone 5 after Apple’s big announcement and reveal of features, I wasn’t impressed.

On the iPhone 5, there will not be NFC (near-field communication), even though the Androids have it. The nicer display is cool and all, but not all that compared to some of the Androids I’ve been playing with at the Verizon store. Ultimately, talk and surf wasn’t enough of a reason to stay with AT&T.

All the facts and considerations in place, I made my decision to get a Samsung Galaxy Stellar on a Verizon Share Everything Plan (unlimited minutes and messaging with 4GB shared data). With five of us on the plan, it’s about $45/month per person. I get everything I need for less money, and I’m having fun with my new Android. 

I don’t think I’ll be drinking the iPhone Kool Aid again for a long time.

Frank Conley

About the Guest Author:

Frank Conley is a freelance writer and lover of all things digital. Whether it’s cool cameras, new laptops, phones or the newest high speed Internet, if it’s about technology, he likes it.