Well, the moment we’ve all been waiting for is finally here. Verizon Wireless finally has the iPhone 4. But I’m not getting one, and I’m a very happy Verizon Wireless customer and have been for years: since my first cellular phone, in fact.
My decision has nothing to do with Verizon Wireless, or some misguided love for AT&T (I actually rather dislike them, but not because of the company, just because for my professional gigs I can’t get their PR folks to reply to my e-mail to save my life) or any disaffection I have for Apple (in fact, I’ve been frequently accused of being too much of an Apple fan, even though I pride myself on liking their products but being willing to call them out when appropriate) but instead my decision based on a couple of things: timing, technology, and trends.
As I said in the title – this is just me. If you’re eager and chomping at the bit to get an iPhone 4 next month as soon as they’re out, by all means more power to you – drop AT&T like a hot rock, especially if you live in an area with horrible service (service that AT&T knows about and yet refuses to improve, but is perfectly comfortable charging you massive Early Termination Fees to leave) and want to switch to a carrier that, you know, actually works. Me though, I’ll hang on to my Motorola Droid just a little longer.
Hit the jump, let me explain what I’m on about here.
Two years ago, the announcement of an iPhone 4 on Verizon would have been glorious to me – I would have heard angels singing, and I would have probably had a very difficult time not taking advantage of Verizon Wireless’ offer to existing customers to be the first to get their hands on the iPhone when it launches on their network in February.
Now however, the announcement rings a little holllow to me, and while I’m excited for the scores of people who have been underserved and overcharged by AT&T for years just so they can have one of the best smartphones on the market today, I don’t think I’ll be making the leap just yet. Here’s why.
The iPhone 4 on Verizon will launch in February. Apple historically announces new versions of the iPhone at the WorldWide Developers Conference (WWDC) that’s normally held around June, which means that almost certainly come summer there will be an “iPhone 5” announced, and almost certainly that new device will be available on Verizon’s network.
I know it’s five months away, but for those of us who are current Verizon Wireless customers, it’s still inside of the year, and if you have an upgrade coming this year it’s worth waiting for. If you’re a current customer and not eligable for an upgrade anytime soon, it’s a moot point for you. If you’re an AT&T user with an iPhone 4 and looking to make the switch to Verizon, there are lots of great ways to do it, but having to break contract and pony up a massive early termination fee is definitely a bitter pill to swallow.
Combine that with the fact that inside of six months you’ll be looking at a new phone with presumably new features, and it’s probably worth waiting. Granted, the “iPhone 5” may not come with any notable new features – maybe it’ll just be a speed improvement over the current model, like the iPhone 3GS was with the iPhone 3G, even so, I don’t think 5 months is too long to find out what the next iPhone will look like – it’s not like it’s 9 or 10 months away.
Considering the fact that phones like the incredible Motorola Atrix are about to hit AT&T and devices like the Droid Bionic and the LG Revolution and HTC Thunderbolt are all dual-core models with big screens and about to crash into Verizon Wireless like a ton of bricks, you have a tidal wave of new devices sporting impressive mobile tech that Apple simply can’t ignore.
Most of these phones will come out of the gate with features superior to the iPhone on paper: 8-megapixel cameras with 1-megapixel front-facing ones, 1GHz dual-core NVidia Tegra 2 processors under the hood, and tons of expandable storage for a lower price point than Apple’s iPhone: Apple is going to have to up the ante a bit to keep people’s attention on the iPhone when there are dual core phones on the market, much less phones that could be as transformational as the Atrix, which essentially docks and turns into a laptop.
Technology-wise, Apple has paved the way all this time, they’re going to have to do something to leapfrog the competition, or at least keep up, and odds are they’re giong to do it soon. If LG and Samsung can fit a dual-core processor and an LTE 4G radio in a phone, Apple’s likely already working on cramming a dual-core A9 processor and their own 4G radio into the iPhone. I don’t think I could live with myself if I bought a product this outdated already, given what we saw at CES just last week and knowing that Apple’s likely to announce an update in just a few months.
This one’s more personal, and may resonate with some people and won’t resonate with others: the trend in smartphones right now is simply away from iOS and heading quickly towards Android, and I’m riding that wave very happily. Android is seeing constant and frequent updates, is more flexible and customizable, and has a large and growing community around it of people who are passionate about the platform. There are simply so many more Android devices on the market that there’s a plethora of consumer choice, and while some people really do need a device to be “the best forever ever” so they don’t have to make a decision, I’m the opposite – I love looking at spec sheets and charts and getting hands on with multiple devices to determine which one will work for me.
As PC Mag Mobile Analyst Sascha Segan said, the Verizon iPhone isn’t the mobile messiah, even if we want it to be. Right now the development, both for hardware and software, is trending towards Android. It really is the technology frontier.
That’s not to say that iOS isn’t the preferred mobile OS for developers, especially developers looking for a cohesive store model they can use to make a living off of their development work. That also isn’t to say that iOS isn’t superior for gaming, or doesn’t have the better selection of mobile apps with real professional polish. If I weren’t the geek I am and if I didn’t enjoy being on the bleeding edge like I do, I would be much more tempted to switch.
It just appears that – as Android overtakes the iPhone in the US and abroad in sales and as the product of choice for new smartphone owners, Apple’s the stalwart of the category and Android is a bit more….interesting. That can all change in an instant, don’t get me wrong, but I find that iOS feels better these days on a tablet like the iPad than it would on my phone. (Yes, like I said before, this isn’t indicative of a disaffection with Apple – I definitely want an iPad, and even though I think the Xoom has promise, I would say the inverse if this article were about tablets. I think too many manufacturers are trying to shoehorn Android into a tablet form factor, where Apple has it absolutely right with iOS. Honeycomb could change that, but the previews I’m seeing look good, but not good enough.)
Again – personal opinion and completely subjective. I’ve strongly pondered getting my parents iPhones, mostly because my mother already has an iPod Touch and adores it. Still, I can’t help but think that Android is where the real, new, and exciting action really is.
I’m seeing similar sentiment appear on the Web, albeit for different reasons (there are some good ones in that piece) so I know I’m not crazy, at least.
Still, I think the topic is worth revisiting in a couple of months when the next iPhone is unveiled, and we see how Apple plans to compete with some of its newest challengers – not to mention how Verizon is dealing with the influx of customers.