AT&T's iPhone Drops More Calls Than Verizon's

Most iPhone users on Verizon Wireless and AT&T networks are satisfied with their phones, but the AT&T network drops more than twice as many calls, according to a study by ChangeWave.

Eric Zeman, Contributor

April 5, 2011

3 Min Read

Slideshow: Verizon iPhone 4 Teardown

Slideshow: Verizon iPhone 4 Teardown

(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Verizon iPhone 4 Teardown

Research firm ChangeWave set out to compare how iPhone 4 users feel about their devices and the network the use with their iPhones. It polled more than 4,000 consumers in hopes of spotting some differences between how AT&T and Verizon Wireless customers rate their experiences.

The results showed that, overall, AT&T and Verizon Wireless iPhone users are about equally satisfied when it comes to their device. Verizon users claiming to be "very satisfied" reached 82%, while 16% said they were somewhat satisfied. AT&T users claiming to be "very satisfied" reached 80%, while 18% said they were somewhat satisfied. That's a dead heat, statistically, and makes sense given the phone is more or less identical on both networks.

When it comes to rating their network experience, however, there's a dramatic difference.

ChangeWave asked iPhone 4 users to rate the number of dropped calls they experienced in the 90 days prior to the survey. Verizon iPhone 4 users claim that their calls were dropped 1.8% of the time. AT&T iPhone 4 users, however, claim that their calls were dropped 4.8% of the time -- more than twice as much as on Verizon's network.

Overall dropped-call rates for each of the four major carriers over the past 90 days are 1.4% for Verizon, 2.3% for T-Mobile, 2.7% for Sprint, and 4.6% for AT&T.

One issue with this study worth pointing out is that the Verizon iPhone 4 had only been available for about 53 days at the time the study concluded. That means Verizon iPhone 4 users had just over half as much time to formulate an opinion about dropped call rates compared to AT&T iPhone 4 users. However, ChangeWave said the overall dropped-call rating follows historical trends for the four major carriers. AT&T's overall 4.6% dropped-call rate is more than triple Verizon's 1.4%. Ouch.

Another issue is that ChangeWave did not disclose where those it polled are located. Are they in densely populated areas like New York City and San Francisco, or sparsely populated areas? The location (i.e., number of people using each cell site) makes a big difference on network performance and whether or not calls are consistently connected and/or dropped.

ChangeWave offers a note of caution. "Verizon is still in the early stages of its iPhone 4 offering to consumers," it said. "It remains to be seen how well the Verizon network performs as the number of Verizon iPhone 4 owners ramps up and inevitably puts more pressure on their system. And, in a sign of the magnitude of the ramp-up Verizon is facing, 46% of those who plan on buying an iPhone 4 in the future say they'll use Verizon as their service provider compared with 27% for AT&T."

On Monday, comScore reported that the Verizon Wireless iPhone 4 was the most-acquired handset in the U.S. during the month of February. That, and the 46% of future iPhone buyers planning to use Verizon's network rather than AT&T's, underscore how the buying public feels about the nation's two largest network providers.

About the Author(s)

Eric Zeman


Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies.

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