Mobile

iPhone 5 can’t do voice and data simultaneously on Verizon, Sprint

Apple CEO Tim Cook, with two giant iPhone 5 images behind him

One of the biggest annoyances for Verizon Wireless and Sprint iPhone owners was the inability to access cellular data while making a voice call, thanks to a limitation in the CDMA network standard. Unfortunately, it looks like nothing has changed with Apple’s new iPhone 5.

Both Verizon Wireless and Sprint confirmed today that the iPhone 5 won’t be able to handle voice and data at the same time, reports the Verge. That’s something that’s always been possible on AT&T’s 3G network, and the carrier confirmed today that it’s still true for the iPhone 5 (though you won’t get LTE speeds while on a voice call).

“The iPhone 5 was designed to allow customers to place a voice call on the Verizon Wireless network, while letting customers access the Internet over the WiFi,”  a Verizon spokesperson told the Verge.

Improvements to LTE networks will finally allow for simultaneous voice and data in the next few years, but for now it’s up to device makers to come up with a fix. For example, Samsung included an extra antenna on the Galaxy S III to allow the use of data and voice together, AnandTech’s Anand Shimpi tells the New York Times.

So why did Apple avoid fixing this issue? Given the incredibly thin design of the iPhone 5, Apple likely didn’t have any way to include an extra antenna. And since it was a fix only necessary for Verizon and Sprint, the company opted for a thinner design for the majority of users around the world rather than compromising to appease a few consumers.

In the end, it’s much easier for Apple to forgo a seemingly simple feature like this, instead of designing and building unique models for Verizon and Sprint. At the same time, though, it’s clearly a situation where design trumps function.

I was very tempted to jump ship from AT&T to Verizon for the iPhone 5, but since I constantly take advantage of cellular data during voice calls, this news has me staying put.

Photo: Dean Takahashi/VentureBeat


Mobile developer or publisher? VentureBeat is studying mobile marketing automation. Fill out our 5-minute survey, and we'll share the data with you.