There has been a lot of hoopla about smartphone tests that show all kinds of things, and the most high profile of these have been comparisons between the AT&T iPhone and the Verizon iPhone. However, the reality is that most of these field tests are so poorly done (not taking into account network coverage across the country, what settings are activated on the phone, software installed on the phones, and even variables based on time and day) that their results are border-line meaningless.

Just recently I spoke with Metrico Wireless, a company that specializes in doing in-depth, objective field tests. They've created a full report (available for purchase) that analyzes the differences between the AT&T and Verizon iPhones, but were able to share some of the salient points.

Important takeaways from the report include:

iPhone-to-iPhone Comparisons:

  • The AT&T iPhone had a data download speed twice as fast as the Verizon iPhone, and an upload speed 50% faster.
  • However, both iPhones are about the same in terms of web browsing performance.
  • The AT&T iPhone does drop more calls, but the difference isn't very significant.

Phones Within AT&T Comparisons:

  • The AT&T iPhone tops the charts for AT&T smartphones in download and upload speed (other high performers include Sony Ericsson Xperia, the LG Quantum and the HTC Surround).
  • The AT&T iPhone ranks below average in Bluetooth speech quality (behind top-rated performers such as the Blackberry Torch and Blackberry Curve).
  • The AT&T iPhone ranks in the middle of the pack on call performance (behind top-rated performers such as the Samsung Captivate and the HTC Aria).

Phones Within Verizon Comparisons:

  • The Verizon iPhone ranks near the top in noise-cancelling performance (near top performers such as the Droid X and the LG Ally).
  • The iPhone ranks below average in data download (HTC Incredible is champion in this category).
  • The iPhone is comparable to the Verizon average in speech quality, behind top performers such as the LG Fathom.

The chief take away from the report is: don't believe the hype! While it's much simpler to talk about "good" and "bad" devices, the reality is that most devices are strong performers in certain categories and weak performers in others. The key is not to grab the hottest device, but the device that best suits your own needs.

You can purchase the full report here. Also, let me know what other smartphone comparisons you'd be interested to hear more about.

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