OpenSignalMaps and type your address or zip code to see what services rank best in your area. Note the highest data speeds, and I'll explain those next.
- AT&T: Average price - $99.99/month (450 minutes, unlimited messaging, 2GB data)
- Verizon: Average price - $100.00/month (unlimited minutes, unlimited messaging, 2GB data)
- Sprint: Average price - $79.99/month (450 minutes, unlimited messaging, unlimited data)
- T-Mobile: Average price - $89.99/month (unlimited minutes, messaging and data)
The results are surprisingly convincing that Verizon is far and away the leader in this category. Want to do more legwork on this? Call the customer service departments and ask them some of the questions I posed here (what's the data plan going to cost? what data rates are available?). You can also research this online by going to the carrier's webpage and seeing how easy it is to use. Who had the best customer service? least phone wait time? most helpful website? That can help you decide how to rank customer service in your area. Summary: Don't overlook customer service and user-friendly carrier websites. You'll likely have to use them more than a handful of times through the life of your contract, so it pays to make sure that the carrier is providing a valuable customer service as well. You sure are paying them enough for it. Everything Else: If you've looked through these areas and made it this far, you've done a bulk of the work and probably have a good sense of which carrier is best for you. If it's close between two carriers, now is the time to consider the little things. Here's a few of note.
- Verizon:Mobile tethering offered free with shared data plan. This lets you setup the iPhone like a hotspot so you can use it for data for a laptop when wifi isn't available.
- AT&T: A GSM carrier (and the only one for iPhone). GSM is known to experience longer batter life compared to CDMA equivalents due to the antenna technology (Verizon and Sprint use CDMA standards). GSM also supports simultaneous voice and data, CDMA only will support this if you're in an area that supports LTE.
- Sprint: Only iPhone carrier still offering unlimited data with no throttling for new customers.
- T-Mobile: Another GSM carrier, and they have recently announced an unlimited data with no throttling data option. They don't formally sell the iPhone through retail but welcome unlocked iPhones on their network