Verizon iPhone: The reviews are in

The verdict is unanimous: It's slower than AT&T's, but it rarely drops calls

Pre-orders for the Verizon (vz) iPhone began Thursday, and deliveries will begin next week, but Apple (aapl) made review copies available to its favorite publications -- before Verizon's network might suffer, like AT&T's (t) did, the strain of a few million new bandwidth hogs.

With that caveat, a sampling of the reviews:

  • The New York Times' David Pogue: "To answer everyone’s question, the Verizon iPhone is nearly the same as AT&T’s iPhone 4 — but it doesn’t drop calls. For several million Americans, that makes it the holy grail.
  • The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg: "What about the trade-offs? Chief among them is data speed... despite a few Verizon victories here and there, AT&T’s network averaged 46% faster at download speeds and 24% faster at upload speeds."

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  • TechCrunch's MG Siegler: "Yesterday, I made a 45-minute phone call from my office. This seemingly unremarkable statement is remarkable for two reasons. First, I was able to place a call from my office — something which was impossible for me to do a week prior. Second, I made it through the entire 45-minutes without the call being dropped once. Again, this was impossible a week prior."
  • Bloomberg Businessweek's Rich Jaroslovsky: "There are two significant drawbacks to the Verizon iPhone. One is that, unlike the AT&T version, you can’t talk and access the Internet over the 3G connection at the same time. So you can’t, for instance, check movie times while you’re on a call with a friend... The other drawback is that CDMA, which was developed by Qualcomm Corp., is far less widely used outside the U.S. than is the standard AT&T uses, which is known as GSM. So if you need to use your phone internationally, AT&T may make more sense."
  • Daring Fireball's John Gruber: "The hotspot feature works so well that I can’t really see paying for a 3G iPad again. I’d rather have a Wi-Fi-only iPad and my iPhone’s hotspot, when needed, than pay $15 a month for a 3G data service that only works on the iPad itself."

Still unclear is when the Wi-Fi hotspot feature will get turned on for AT&T iPhone customers, and what it will cost..

For the nearest thing to a complete list of the reviews, click here.

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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