- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 1, 2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn. | In theory, there should be little difference between the disparate versions of Apple’s iPhone that work on the wireless networks of Verizon and AT&T. The latter has had an iPhone available since the device’s 2007 debut while Verizon’s run began last month.

Other than the fact that AT&T uses the Global Standard for Mobile, or GSM, network technology for calls and Verizon uses Code Division Multiple Access, or CDMA, the two devices should be almost indistinguishable.

As I said, that’s the theory. I was pleasantly surprised by the reality, however: The Apple iPhone 4GS that runs on Verizon’s network seems to have somewhat better battery life, and certainly was a lifesaver the other evening. More on both of these points in a moment.

The similarities clearly are there. Both are almost identical visually — buttons on the left side of the Verizon model are slightly different from those on the AT&T version, but otherwise they’re difficult, if not impossible, to tell apart. Both have the same “Retina Display” screen, which is stunningly clear and easy to read. Both have the same features, sounds and basic programs.

But in my testing, particularly on a road trip to Music City and the Opryland Convention Center (a Las Vegas-sized resort without the slot machines or indoor smoking), the Verizon model emerged a clear winner.

For one thing, Verizon’s network coverage and strength seemed a bit better than AT&T’s, particularly inside the Opryland complex. Both phones worked for voice and data calls, but the Verizon consistently showed more connection “bars” on the screen than did AT&T.

For another, as mentioned earlier, the battery life did seem longer on the Verizon model. All sorts of things could factor into this, but when push came to shove, the Verizon unit kept going. (Of course, as mentioned here a few weeks back, any iPhone will easily outlast just about any Android-based phone for battery life. A friend here said she and her husband carry phones with the Google-backed operating system, and neither is happy with the power consumption.)

The lifesaver part came Sunday evening, when I was covering an address by House Speaker John A. Boehner. Security rules kept my rolling case — and iPad — out of the banquet room, so all I had were my iPhones. As the Ohio Republican spoke, I turned the Verizon iPhone on its side for more screen space and pecked away. It wasn’t the ideal means for typing, but it worked, and I was able to send my story using the device as well.

The many other features and advantages of the iPhone platform worked well during my trip here also. It’s a great GPS system, with appropriate software, and a very handy voice recorder. (That program is built in). The free Dragon Dictate application can also be helpful, transcribing what you say into a format that’s easy to edit, copy and paste into an e-mail or other document.

Speaking of applications and of documents, QuickOffice Connect’s iPhone version is a lifesaver: $9.99 and you get the ability to edit Microsoft Word documents, or compose in “plain text.”

Either way, on the iPhone, you also get a “word count” feature, useful if your boss says they want 425 words, exactly. (Ironically, that feature is not available on the very good QuickOffice iPad suite. Go figure.)

And a far more than honorable mention goes to Scoshe’s IPDBAT2, available at retail for less than $40. It is a great rechargeable system that will, in turn, let you charge your iPad or iPhone on the go. It features separately rated USB connections for either the iPad or a cell phone, and enough “juice” to get your portable up and running quickly. I highly recommend this.

E-mail mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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