AT&T Mobility: First Impressions

It has been a week since I switched from Verizon Wireless to AT&T Mobility to power my iPhone, and I thought I’d follow up my initial “screw you, Verizon!” blog post with one that fairly evaluates my service with the new provider. It has been good, it has been bad, and it has largely been everything that I’ve expected. Best of all, it has been far more data for far less money, and less of a feeling of being under the thumb of Big Red at every turn.

The Bad

Let’s start with the bad, that way we can end with the good and feel great about ourselves when the post is finished. Here are some of my least-favorite things about AT&T, right up front.

  1. I attempted to add my group discount off-contract (or, as AT&T calls it, my FAN), and it put me into a two-year contract right away, without telling me. I had to call 611 and have them reverse this process so that I will be able to upgrade to the iPhone “5” when it comes out in a few months. It took them three days to do this — why?
  2. More to the point, I apparently cannot add my group discount to my rate plan unless I am in a contract, or start a new one. The fuck?
  3. Special K and I went to Philadelphia for Independence Day with our good friend, Katie. Philadelphia is known for having the “Party on the Parkway” where a half-million people gather to watch major music acts and tons of fireworks over the art museum. My phone was completely useless during this celebration. No calls, texts, or bytes of data were able to get through the crowd. Special K and Katie are also AT&T customers, and we had to resort to sending smoke signals to communicate with our friends. That’s a downer.
  4. This isn’t necessarily an AT&T problem, but it has happened since I switched: The iPhone 4S has major battery life issues and that really kills my buzz. Good thing I have a charger everywhere.

The Good!

Let’s finish with good news, because everyone likes a happy ending. There are plenty of things to love about AT&T’s wireless service that are quite different from Verizon’s offering.

  1. Unlike when I had an iPhone with Verizon, I can actually talk on the phone and use mobile data at the same time. This is so grrrrrreat that even Tony the Tiger would celebrate it.
  2. Speaking of mobile data, the speeds I’ve been getting with my AT&T iPhone 4S are literally between eight and nine times faster than the service I received from Verizon Wireless during my time as a smartphone customer there. It makes on-the-go browsing and app usage way more enjoyable.
  3. AT&T’s “myAT&T” application for the iPhone is way, way, way better than “My Verizon.” It’s insanely more intuitive, it isn’t slow or laggy, and it offers far more account management capabilities. Verizon’s mobile account application is an embarrassment, and it always has been.
  4. Similarly, the AT&T online account management portal using the full version of the company’s website is way prettier and more intuitive. I’ve long believed that “AT&T just doesn’t get it” about mobile service, but I’m being proven wrong a lot.
  5. Verizon Wireless service at the beach is really, really bad. At least here in Delaware. My phone regularly slipped down to the lowercase “o” that indicated 2G service. This killed my battery at the beach, and rendered any mobile browsing pursuits useless and infuriatingly unavailable. It’s a whole new world now.
  6. The freedom of having a SIM card — well, a micro-SIM card — cannot be understated. No more draconian Verizon policies that permit me only to use their “approved” phones. It’s really, really great.

So, AT&T isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There are some rainy days with this wireless provider, as there are with any service provider. The good news is that I get charged less with AT&T while getting more services — an extra gigabyte of data and free calling to any mobile device — while also getting faster data and better coverage here on the Delmarva Peninsula. So far, I don’t regret my decision to make the big switch. If that changes, count on me to bitch about it right here.