I have been waiting two-and-a-half years for this moment: Verizon began taking iPhone orders today. When I switched to the iPhone 3g in the summer of 2008, I waited on line until around 2:00am at the 5th Avenue Apple Store to get it as soon as possible. Even back in 2008, however, I bought the device with full awareness of AT&T's shortcomings -- my former roommate had AT&T until switching to Verizon a year earlier, and told me the vast improvement he experienced. By now, I've actually gotten use to dead zones ("I will probably lose you here, so if I do, I'll call you right back.") and dropped calls ("What part of the conversation did you last year?"). When I used Verizon for six years before owning the iPhone, I can't recall experiencing a single dropped call or dead zone -- and I traveled throughout the U.S. as a consultant at that time.
Yet despite my desire to switch back to Verizon, I won't be waiting on line again one week from today, when non-Verizon subscribers can make the switch. Instead, I'll wait a little longer -- until at least this summer.
My specific situation is probably relatively uncommon. Some iPhone-philes are trying to decide if switching to Verizon is worth the early termination fee. In calculating that cost, this post by my colleague Alexis Madgrigal may help. But I won't need to pay any early termination fee: I rightly predicted that Verizon would offer the iPhone early this year, so I didn't renew my 2-year contract with AT&T last summer when I could have. I am post-contract, so no termination fees would apply. But I'm still waiting. My rationale breaks down into seven parts.
Who Wants Inferior Technology?
Don't get me wrong: I'm dying to upgrade my old iPhone 3g. It has gotten slower and slower, even though I knew enough not to undergo the treacherous iOS4 update. I desperately wish I could enjoy cool new functionality that the iPhone has adopted since then like augmented reality, Face Time, a faster processor, and a better camera. But if I get the iPhone 4 in February, then I may have an inferior device as soon as this summer, if/when Apple releases a new version of the iPhone at its usual timing.
I Have Waited This Long
And under the assumption that a new iPhone is released by Apple this summer, that's just four or so months away. Really, what's four months? I have already exhibited incredible patience by waiting around eight months with an expired contract. To make the purchase hastily would be to ignore the big picture of what I, and probably most others in my position, want: not only an iPhone with Verizon, but the most advanced device possible. That second condition will likely be lost in four short months if I switch to Verizon now.
The Hope for LTE
To be honest, I'm unconvinced that the iPhone 5, 4g, 4s, or whatever Apple calls the next phone it creates will have any additional functionality that makes it revolutionary compared to the iPhone 4 -- with one huge exception. The next iPhone should support super-fast LTE/4G networks. The iPhone 4 doesn't. In fact, there's some reason to believe that hardware upgrade challenges will prevent even the next generation iPhone from supporting LTE too, but we'll see. Apple must recognize that other devices are being released that have the capability for enhanced network speed, so the iPhone must make this leap if it wants to compete. LTE is so much faster that it's worth waiting for.