Verizon iPhone 4: Follow-up

Avid reader Ryan S. pointed out that although I listed out a series of scenarios for what people might want to do regarding Verizon's iPhone 4 in my last post, I never really explained my personal plan. To get right to the point, I will not be pre-ordering a Verizon iPhone 4 on February 3rd. Let's talk about why.

Way back in 2007, I had never even heard of an iPhone on the day Apple released it into the market, single handedly changing the entire direction of the mobile market. Actually, I wasn't even aware of the hype surrounding it. Being more interested in overclocking my PC to the point where it was about to catch on fire than on how pretty a bright white case looked, Apple wasn't even on my radar. Plus, $600 was (is?) an insane amount of money to pay for a phone back then, especially when we didn't know how dependent on these things we were going to be. That said, the moment I read this article I literally leaped out of my cube and bolted to the local AT&T store. I got there so quick they didn't even know the price had dropped, but quickly figured it out. I haven't missed an iPhone release day since. I am unsure how this story was relevant, but there you go.

In a post several months ago, I described the pain of having a pseudo-mountain in between my home and the closest AT&T tower. This problem was remedied in the summer of 2010 with the release of a $150 microcell... for the most part. It is very common for a call to immediately fail 2-3 times when placed and it occasionally drops active calls even when close by. The thing is buggy, that's for sure, but for all intents and purposes it gets the job done. Combine this buggy microcell with the fact that my shiny new white screen has a faulty proximity sensor (resulting in such comical mid-call-ear-dials as a three way call with a cab company in Lake Tahoe), you'd think I'd be jumping at a chance to replace the phone with a new one on a new carrier. Frankly, I really don't care. Of all the features I use this device for, the phone is one of the least used parts of it. It's really a car & work music playing, home audio controlling, web surfing, Comcast DVR programming, Twittering, run tracking, weather checking, and text messaging machine. I make frequent calls on it too, but all these other functions are used far more heavily and the experience is fantastic. And when I do make a phone call, aside from being up on a mountain somewhere or out in the boonies, I have no major problems with AT&T's service. I've been having dropped calls for seemingly forever; it's something I've learned to live with. I think most AT&T folks have learned to live with this too. So, I'm in no rush to jump ship.

Jumping to Verizon now would result in an early termination fee (ETF), likely in the hundreds of dollars as the two year contract I signed for the on-contract price for iPhone 4 ends in June of 2013. Normally I'll pay anything for the latest and greatest, but this is really just the same phone. It's on a better network, but that's not all that important to me. This might be a different story if they bumped up the maximum storage available to 64GB, as I've been running out since the 32GB 3GS. I've been removing things regularly to keep a reasonable buffer for something hefty, like navigation with off-line maps and 720p video capture. PLEASE DELIVER A 64GB IPHONE SOON, I'M CONCERNED I WON'T BE ABLE TO FIT LADY GAGA'S NEW ALBUM.

The next question is, when the fifth generation phone comes out, which carrier do I choose? If they forgo LTE in the next round and being locked to a carrier remains necessary, everything else being equal I will jump ship to Verizon. It's kind of a no-brainer, unless the ETF is hundreds of dollars. In that case, I don't mind hanging around another year on AT&T's network. Should this next model be LTE, I'll review where both networks stand regarding LTE deployment and pick whomever looks like they'll get to my area first. The carrier most likely to have their act together will be Verizon, but full deployment won't occur until 2012. Really the only thing keeping me from moving to Verizon is the ETF.

Either way, it looks like I'm about to get gouged on the next generation iPhone. I'll get the on-contract pricing with Verizon but I'll have to pay a hefty ETF to get out of my AT&T contract. To buy the AT&T device, I'll have to pay some special pseudo-off-contract price per this text message from AT&T below. Who knows how much that will be.

On a nearly unrelated note, AT&T's system for telling you your upgrade eligibility is hilariously awkward. Logging into your account, and clicking 'Check Upgrade Options' gives you the instructions below. 

You call this 3 digit number wrapped in special characters, the result of which is AT&T sending you a text message with the answer. Well, at least I thought it was entertaining.

That's all for now on the Verizon iPhone. If possible, I'm going to try to write about something non-iPhone related soon. To be honest, my next post is probably going to be about backing up iTunes data. Fail.