Apple’s new iPhone 4S will be available for pre-order shortly and for the first time in the US, users will have the option to choose from three carriers – AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.
But before selecting a carrier there are number of parameters you need to consider such as pricing, network reliability, speed, ability to surf while you talk etc. So lets take a look at how the carriers stack up against one another.
PC Mag has created a nice comparison chart of the various voice and data service plan options that is being offered by the three carriers for iPhone 4S, which should make it a lot easier for you to make a decision.
The chart is broken down into different sections for voice plans, data plans and add-ons such as Mobile Hotspot feature.
AT&T, Verizon and Sprint offer three standard voice tiers (450 minutes, 900 minutes, and unlimited), PCMag has paired the voice plan with unlimited texting.
As you can see from the chart below, at $99 per month, Sprint offers the cheapest monthly data plan for 900 minutes, unlimited texting and unlimited data. It is also important to note that Sprint is the only one to offer unlimited data plans compared to AT&T and Verizon, who offer only 2GB of data.
Sprint charges $29.99 per month for the Mobile Hotspot add-on, which comes with
unlimited 5GB of data, where as AT&T and Verizon offer the Mobile Hotspot feature for $19.99, but with only 2GB of data on top of the data plan. The Mobile Hotspot feature allows you to use your iPhone 4S to provide a Wi-Fi connection to up to five different devices. So Sprint’s unlimited data for Mobile Hotspot will be a lot more cost effective for heavy data users.
According to the network reliability test by PC World in 2010, AT&T and Sprint were the top performers with 94% reliability, while Verizon scored a 92%.
However, one of the biggest complaints from AT&T’s iPhone users is poor network coverage resulting in dropped calls, whereas Verizon is considered to have the largest 3G network of the three. So as Mashable points out, you’re more likely to get a 3G signal in the country side with Verizon than with AT&T.
Though Sprint has the smallest 3G network of the three, Sprint users can roam on Verizon’s network for free, which probably helped it score higher than Verizon in the network reliability test.
At the end of the data, network reliability depends a lot on your location, so find out if the carrier has coverage in your area of work and residence before selecting a carrier. It is also important to note that a lot of these tests were done way back in 2010 and lot may have changes since then as we know AT&T has been working hard to improve its network.
According to the 3G network wireless performance test by PC World in 2010, AT&T was the top performer, with download speeds 67% faster than its competitors.
In the tests, AT&T posted an average download speed of 1410 kbps, while Verizon posted an average download speed of 877 kbps and Sprint was the slowest posting an average download speed of 795 kbps.
Surf while you talk:
AT&T is the only carrier that allows users to surf while they’re speaking on the iPhone. Verizon and Sprint currently do not support this functionality.
So which network should you pick? It depends on your priorities, Mashable sums it up very well:
- If you care about speed the most, AT&T is your best choice.
- If you care about simultaneous talking and web surfing, AT&T is your best choice as well
- If you’re very price-conscious, Sprint is the way to go.
- If you care about unlimited data, Sprint is the only one that offers a new plan.
- If your concern is network reliability, you need to test the different networks in the areas you visit most.
- If you travel a lot and want constant 3G access, Verizon is your best bet.
We hope you found this useful, don’t forget to drop us a line to tell us if you plan to buy or upgrade to iPhone 4S and also let us know, which network you picked along with your reasons as we’re sure it would be helpful for fellow readers.