The unscientific Berkeley iPhone faceoff: AT&T vs Verizon

Which iPhone worked better in Berkeley?

Yesterday, Steve Jobs launched the iPad 2 with attendant hoopla in San Francisco. At Berkeleyside, we like our gadgets, but we’re not obsessed with being up-to-the-second. So our Apple question yesterday was: how does the newish Verizon iPhone compare to the sturdy AT&T iPhone in Berkeley?

Two-thirds of the Berkeleyside founders set out on a Berkeley iPhone faceoff to decide whether the long-standing gripes of many AT&T users were justified, and if Verizon really made a difference for iPhone users. The faceoff is completely unscientific, and readers are free to pick holes in our methodology. We’re not a gadget site and we don’t have access to the latest of everything. The AT&T we used is an iPhone 3, while the Verizon is an iPhone 4. Enough with the caveats. What happened?

We started our test in the Elmwood, but were quickly stymied. The problem? Our AT&T iPhone stubbornly refused to get a single call. We seemed to be in one of the dreaded dead zones, even though we were only 450 yards away from the restaurants of College Avenue. The Verizon iPhone, in contrast, had four bars and merrily was taking calls and gobbling up data. Advantage: Verizon.


We then moved to the Gourmet Ghetto. Perhaps AT&T doesn’t like life south of campus. On the corner of Shattuck and Vine both phones showed a healthy five bars. Both successfully accepted and made calls. What about data? We simultaneously clicked to load The New York Times website. Both succeeded, but the AT&T iPhone took a full 20 seconds longer to load the page. Advantage: Verizon.

Finally, we trundled down to West Berkeley, near the intersection of San Pablo and University. Again, both phones did fine on making and receiving calls. For data we first tried getting the latest stories from the Berkeleyside app. Both loaded, but the Verizon iPhone was several seconds faster. We then decided to simultaneously try loading The New York Times app. Result: quick success on the Verizon phone and total fail on AT&T. Advantage: Verizon.

We could have gone on, but we decided the (unscientific) result was conclusive. If you’re an iPhone user in Berkeley, there’s no contest — Verizon is the winner. Rather than running further around Berkeley, we had lunch at the new Gaumenkitzel restaurant (or Mittagstisch as the owners would have it). More satisfying than more techie tests.