Walt Mossberg

Recent Columns by Walt Mossberg

Mossberg’s Mailbox

Verizon iPhone and Android World Phones

Q:

I know I cannot use the Verizon iPhone to place or receive calls in most countries overseas. Can I use it to surf the Net when I am in a Wi-Fi hot spot provided by a hotel or Starbucks, etc.?

A:

Yes. Except for its cellular radio innards, the Verizon model is essentially identical to the AT&T one and that includes its Wi-Fi capabilities, which worked fine in my tests in Hong Kong. Although I didn’t test this, I suspect you could even make Internet phone calls overseas over Wi-Fi, using apps like Line2 or Skype. One other good use for Wi-Fi: performing online data tasks while on a Verizon voice call in the U.S. Unlike AT&T’s, Verizon’s 3G network doesn’t allow tasks like fetching Web pages or new email while on a cellular call. But if you’re on Wi-Fi while you’re making that call, you can perform such tasks, because they’ll be carried out on the Wi-Fi network, not the cellular one.

Q:

I am one of those loyal Verizon customers eagerly awaiting the iPhone, so I read your recent review with great interest. However, I was disappointed that you did not address my main interest, as a grandmother, in the video calling capability. With great envy, I saw this operate on our daughter’s AT&T iPhone.

A:

I did test Apple’s built-in FaceTime video calling on the Verizon iPhone, and it seemed to work about as well as it does on the AT&T model, which is to say generally quite well.

This isn’t one of those functions where the cellular networks even matter, as Apple has restricted it to working over Wi-Fi only. So its quality varies mainly by the strength and congestion of the Wi-Fi networks at either end.

Q:

I am a very satisfied Verizon customer but I miss being able to use my phone when traveling in Western Europe. I will be able to upgrade my phone in August (just in time for our annual Europe trip) and I am hoping there will be another Droid available by then that will be able to operate on the GSM system. Will there be?

A:

Verizon already offers Android “world phones” that contain both its normal radio for use in the U.S. and a GSM radio for use in Europe and elsewhere. These currently include the Droid Pro and Droid 2 Global by Motorola. I don’t know whether any new ones are planned, or whether the current ones will still be on the market in August, but I’d be surprised if there wasn’t an Android world phone available when you’re ready to upgrade.

You can find Mossberg’s Mailbox, and my other columns at the All Things Digital website, http://walt.allthingsd.com. Email walt.mossberg@wsj.com


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