AT&T vs Verizon vs Sprint…which is better?

Talk to three people and you will get three different answers about who is the best network provider. When considering this question, the best way to come to a conclusion is by comparing cold hard data. The following information has been taken from Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T to help consumers decide which company is right for them. Cost, services, and coverage areas are the three important variables that are analyzed.

Comparison of Plans

One way of evaluating these companies is to compare their offers side-by-side. The following chart does just this, and includes a comparison – by no means a comprehensive list – of some of the most popular mobile wireless devices, with 2015 prices reflected.

Sprint Verizon AT&T
Individual Plan Unlimited text, talk, and data, $80 per month Unlimited text and talk:·       plus 1GB data, $60 per month

·       plus 2GB data, $75 per month.

Unlimited text and talk:·       plus 1GB, $50 per month

·       plus 3GB, $65 per month

Family/Group Plan Shared (5 people) 20GB data, unlimited text and talk, $100 per month; $15 extra per person per month after first year Unlimited text, talk, and data: $80 per month plus $15 per month per added device (up to 10) Unlimited text and talk, plus 10GB data for up to four smartphone lines, $160 per month
Prepaid Unlimited talk and text:·       plus 1GB data, $35 per month

·       plus 3GB data, $45 per month

·       plus 6GB data, $55 per month

Unlimited talk and text:·       plus 500MB data, $35 per month

·       plus 1GB data, $45 per month

Unlimited talk and text:·       plus $5 for every 100MB of data, $30 per month

·       plus unlimited data (1.5GB high speed), $45 per month

·       plus unlimited data (4GB high speed), $60 per month

Buyout of old contract? Yes No No
By Device:
Apple iPhone 6 24 $20 monthly payments or a two-year service agreement for $199.99 24 $27.08 monthly payments or a two-year contract for $199.99 30 $21.67 monthly payments or a two-year contract for $199.99
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 24 $25 monthly payments or a two-year service agreement for $299.99 24 $31.24 monthly payments or a two-year contract for $299.99 30 $25 monthly payments or a two-year contract for $299.99
Apple iPad Air 2 24 $20 monthly payments or a two-year service agreement for $529.99 24 $26.24 monthly payments or a two-year contract for $429.99 20 $31.50 monthly payments or a two-year contract for $529.99
Apple iPad mini 3 24 $17 monthly payments or a two-year service agreement for $429.99 24 $22.08 monthly payments or a two-year contract for $329.99 20 $26.50 monthly payments or a two-year contract for $429.99
Samsung Galaxy S6 24 $20 monthly payments or a two-year service agreement for $199.99 24 $24.99 monthly payments or a two-year contract for $199.99 30 $22.84 monthly payments or a two-year contract for $199.99
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge 24 $25 monthly payments or a two-year service agreement for $299.99 24 $29.16 monthly payments or a two-year contract for $299.99 30 $27.17 monthly payments or a two-year contract for $299.99
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge 24 $35 monthly payments or a two-year service agreement for $429.99 24 $33.33 monthly payments or a two-year contract for $399.99 Not available
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 24 $27.09 monthly payments or a two-year service agreement for $549.99 24 $24.99 monthly payments or a two-year contract for $399.99 20 $31.50 monthly payments or a two-year contract for $529.99
HTC One M9 24 $20 monthly payments or a two-year service agreement for $99.99 24 $24.99 monthly payments or a two-year contract for $199.99 30 $23.64 monthly payments or a two-year contract for $199.99
LG G4 24 $18 monthly payments or a two-year service agreement for $199.99 24 $22.91 monthly payments or a two-year contract for $199.99 30 $21 monthly payments or a two-year contract for $199.99
LG G Flex2 24 $18 monthly payments or a two-year service agreement for $199.99 Not available 30 $23.64 monthly payments or a two-year contract for $299.99
Nexus 6 24 $25 monthly payments or a two-year service agreement for $199.99 24 $24.99 monthly payments or a two-year contract for $199.99 30 $23.34 monthly payments or a two-year contract for $249.99

 

All companies offer competitive pricing geared towards the general consumer as well as niche customers.

Sprint is trying to attract individual customers with heavy smartphone use through its unlimited everything plan, which offers the best price for high data usage. Verizon tries to capture this demographic in its family plan, which also offers unlimited data for the best deal. Conversely, AT&T offers the most competitive plan that appeals to individual customers who use the least amounts of data, one gigabyte or less.

When it comes to buying a smartphone or tablet, all companies have relatively comparable prices. Verizon has a tendency to offer lower, if not equivalent, rates than its two competitors when it comes to two-year contracts, and also offers its attractive buyout deal where it will take over a customer’s prior contract with his or her old provider company. Sprint tends to offer the most competitive overall prices for devices purchased with monthly payment plans, even when compared with AT&T which spreads its installment plans over six additional months.

Comparison of Coverage Area

4G LTE networks provide the fastest high-speed internet access for mobile wireless devices throughout the nation. When making a comparison of these three companies, Verizon is in the lead – winning hands down – in providing relatively good coverage throughout most areas of the entire nation.

The coverage of AT&T and Sprint can be divided between areas east and west of the Rocky Mountains. East of the Rockies, AT&T does a better job covering the population centers, especially in Southern States outside of Texas and Florida, as well as in the north, providing coverage in some parts of Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas – states where Sprint has little presence, if any.

Both Sprint and AT&T cover most major population centers east of the Rockies. West of the Rockies is a different story. Sprint’s coverage is basically limited to the I-5 corridor as well as major population centers. AT&T does better, providing coverage for many medium-sized cities in this area as well.

The following maps show the coverage areas of the different companies. These maps indicate data coverage on 4G LTE networks. Voice coverage, which is generally available with all companies throughout most of the United States, is not indicated on these maps.

Sprint Coverage Map

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Taken from http://coverage.sprint.com in July, 2015

4G LTE areas are indicated by the orange circles, however to see the actual coverage area it is necessary to zoom in. Hawaii does have areas of 4G LTE coverage while Alaska does not. The purple areas represent 3G networks.

Verizon Coverage Area

verizon-coverage-map

Taken from http://www.verizonwireless.com/wcms/consumer/shop/shop-data-plans/single-line-data-plans.html in July, 2015

On this map 4G LTE coverage areas are indicated in red.

AT&T Coverage Map

att-coverage-map

Taken from http://www.att.com/network/en/index.html in July, 2015

In this map the 4G LTE coverage areas are indicated by the darkest shade of orange.

Verizon’s Map of its Competitors

competitors-coverage-map

Taken from http://www.verizonwireless.com/wcms/consumer/shop/shop-data-plans/single-line-data-plans.html in July, 2015

Verizon provides this map on its website for comparison, showing only the 4G LTE coverage