Several readers have asked me which cellular carrier they should go with. That is a hard question. Currently, I have T-Mobile. I pay $90 a month for unlimited data, unlimited texting, unlimited calls, 5GB of tethering data, and a JUMP plan that allows me to upgrade my phone every six months. The JUMP plan also includes insurance.
In Los Angeles, T-Mobile is great. It’s not perfect, but worth the price I am paying. My calls are barely dropped and the 4G LTE data speeds are fast. However, when driving through some areas of Nevada recently, I was barely able to get service. However, in most metropolitan areas, T-Mobile is just fine.
I previously was with Sprint, a carrier who wasn’t perfect, but good until they introduced the iPhone 4S in October of 2011. Their 3G data networks became constrained and the Internet speeds in some areas became as slow as dial-up. Sprint eventually upgraded to the 4G LTE network, but that was problematic as well. I found my calls dropped and my Internet stalled as my iPhone constantly switched from 4G to 3G and back. Sprint had (and still has) the best prices, but it just wasn’t worth the frustration anymore.
I would have to say that Verizon remains the carrier with the highest quality network. I have been testing Verizon phones throughout the past couple years and have never dropped a call. The 4G LTE speeds are consistent wherever you go with Verizon. But if you ask Verizon why they charge so much more than other carriers, you will be told, “You pay for what you get.” And you definitely get a lot. Unfortunately, Verizon doesn’t offer unlimited data and that hinders even more people from switching over to their network.
I can’t say much about AT&T, because I haven’t used many of their recent phones. When I used the iPhone on their network from 2008 to 2009, the network was horrible. But there are a lot of satisfied AT&T users and they have poured millions into improving their network.
If you are concerned about unlimited data, value and good quality and mostly spend time in metropolitan areas, I would say that T-Mobile is your best value. If you don’t mind paying a little extra for increased quality or live in an area with a low population, Verizon is your best choice. No matter what network you choose, it’s best to go contract-free.