report of divorce ; Verizon iPhone 5 date released 7 leaves AT&T

Monday, August 8th 2011. | Hardware News

Divorce tempts those longtime AT&T iPhone users who see the release date of the Verizon iPhone 5 next month as an escape hatch, but what awaits on the other side of the fence is fraught with a different batch of issues altogether. Worse, it may be too late to execute the best escape scenario, a fact which AT&T is already intent on taking advantage of. Welcome to the fence-sitting position of AT&T iPhone longtimes who are now faced with a decision that’s as much no-lose (they get the iPhone 5 either way) as it is no-win. Here’s more on the iPhone 5 release date, if that’s what you came for. But below is a story to give caution to all smartphone users, whether they’re on iPhone, Android, WP7, BlackBerry, or any other phones which Verizon and AT&T offer. Not that Sprint and T-Mobile don’t have gotcha games of their own.

I myself am a case in point. When Verizon launched the iPhone 4 earlier this year, I almost jumped sides. My experience on AT&T with various iPhones over the years has been frustrating, but mostly because the carrier has been so late in rolling out features like tethering and MMS. But these aren’t even features I use, so it was more of a philosophical frustration than a practical one. Despite the claims of Verizon lovers everywhere, the iPhone on AT&T simply does not suffer from the supposed litany of dropped calls and massive dead zones which Verizon users somehow imagine AT&T iPhone users suffering from. Whether it’s a case of Verizon customers having spent so many years rationalizing their own decision to remain with Verizon despite wanting to jump to AT&T to get the iPhone, or whether it’s the nonstop drumbeat of headline-writing geeks with agendas who’ve decided that claiming Verizon’s network to be massively superior to that of AT&T was the best way to scare the mainstream out of buying an iPhone and into buying a Verizon Droid instead, Verizon users have a stunningly false perception of what life has been like on an AT&T iPhone over the years…
Want evidence? Since the iPhone launched in 2007, I’ve lived in Los Angeles, New York City, and Smalltown USA (yeah, I’ve been moving around too much). The supposed nonstop dropped calls in NYC? They don’t exist. I’ve taken two cross country road trips during that time, on two different routes. The stories of AT&T having dead spots for as much of a third of the trip? Yeah, right. A pair of twenty minute dead zones in Arizona and west Texas was all I encountered. In other words, the stuff you hear about iPhone users not being able to make calls, not being able to sustain calls, or having to find wifi just to access the internet? In a word, bullshit. And yet I find myself strongly considering switching to the Verizon iPhone 5 next month anyway. But this would be for real reasons, not the imaginary ones which have been drummed in some kind of bizarre propaganda campaign.

Here’s why the iPhone crosswinds are blowing strongly against AT&T. First, while the carrier claims to be getting ready to build a nationwide 4G LTE network to compete with Verizon, its planned acquisition of T-Mobile tells a different story. AT&T’s current network is a patchwork mess of 3G in big cities and medium towns, along with the slower EDGE network in small towns. Best I can tell, AT&T intends to build out 4G LTE only in the kinds of areas where it currently has 3G, and instead rely on T-Mobile’s much slower pseudo-4G in small towns. In principle, this ticks me off. But I’m back living in Los Angeles for good now, so it doesn’t so much matter. What does matter is that while Verizon has been slow in building out its 4G LTE, AT&T hasn’t lifted a finger thus far. Verizon’s claims of having 4G LTE that’s twice as fast as that of AT&T can’t even be realistically tested, because the latter doesn’t exist yet. So if the iPhone 5 does in fact offer 4G LTE, AT&T users like me will lose out.

So why don’t I just switch? I had the chance when the Verizon iPhone 4 launched, and part of me wishes I had. Verizon was offering unlimited data plans to new iPhone users, and that unlimited data plan is probably the sole reason why I’ll never leave my current carrier. AT&T stopped offering unlimited data a couple years ago, but those of us who’ve been on an iPhone long enough are grandfathered in forever, or until whenever AT&T figures out how to screw us out of it. I could have bought a Verizon iPhone 4, paid the early termination fee to AT&T in good faith, and been done with it. But I didn’t because I didn’t want to be stuck in that trap of having bought an iPhone 4 so shortly before the iPhone 5 launch that I would need to pay an arm and a leg to Verizon to upgrade once the iPhone 5 debuts. So, like an idiot, I didn’t make the move. And now I’m stuck on AT&T perhaps forever, because I strongly suspect that data overages are the next text messaging overages, an intended “gotcha” scheme designed to inflate monthly cellphone bills by extraordinary amounts. Already I see too many fellow smartphones users around me (none of this is specific to the iPhone, by the way) who are using up the majority of their limited data allotment before the month is half over, and facing the choice of paying through the nose for the rest of the month or cutting back on their usage. And I want no part of either of those options.

Verizon ended its unlimited data offerings last month, ahead of the iPhone 5 debut. And like clockwork, right after that, AT&T announced that it’ll begin throttling down data speeds on those who use too much data each month, even if they’re paying for unlimited data plans. Bastards. What part of “unlimited” do they not understand? Oh right, this is the part where they figure out how to screw us out of the plans we’re paying for. If I’d known about this, I’d have made that move to a Verizon iPhone 4 and then just sucked it up and paid $749 or some ungodly price for the Verizon iPhone 5 when its release date rolls around next month. It would have been worth it to be done with AT&T once and for all, and get with the carrier that’s actually going to build a nationwide 4G LTE network, the carrier which sucks horribly as a company but doesn’t suck quite as much as the company I’ve been with since 2007. But it’s too late now, because I dithered around while Verizon slammed the unlimited data door in my face and now I’ve stuck with AT&T even as it takes my unlimited data away on a technicality. I’m an idiot. I should have known AT&T was just waiting to screw me until after my one chance at escaping for less-brown pastures had come and gone. And now I’ll just have to hope I’m wrong about limited data plans, that they don’t end up becoming the scam of this new decade, and that I will end up being able to look at switching to Verizon iPhone on a limited data plan at some point in the future. Until then, I’ve made up my mind that the cheating involved with the data throttling is the last straw, and I want a divorce from AT&T – I just fear I’ll end up losing too much in the settlement. And so I suppose I’ll end up with an AT&T iPhone 5 in my hands on its release date next month, even as my Verizon iPhone friends are running circles around me on 4G LTE. That is, of course, until they use up their monthly data limit and have to sell off a kidney to pay their Verizon bill. Here’s more on the iPhone 5.

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