AT&T vs. Verizon vs. Sprint vs. T-Mobile: Which iPhone carrier to choose based on cost

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The iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c launch is just a few hours from now, which means you are likely thinking long and hard about buying your next iPhone. Besides which iPhone model you want to buy, the next most important question you need to ask yourself is which carrier should I choose. Some of you are not going to switch as you have too many friends and family on the same network. Many of you, though, want the best bang for you buck and are willing to switch if the price is right. Read on as we compare each major carrier in the US and discuss their costs. You can check out our comparison based on coverage here.

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Verizon Wireless

Verizon tends to be more expensive than Sprint or T-Mobile and is close to AT&T. The carrier offers two types of plans, a Shared data plan that lets you spread your data across multiple devices and an Edge plan that lets you pay for your phone in installments. Verizon has not announced an Edge plans for the new iPhones, so we cannot include those in our comparison.

In the chart below, you can see the upfront cost of both the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c. The monthly cost includes the monthly payment for the phone on an Edge plan or the monthly service fee, which is required for the Share Everything plans. The total cost takes into account the cost of the phone as well as the required two-year monthly installment of contract service fees.

Upfront cost Monthly Cost Total cost
iPhone 5c – Share 1GB $99 $90 $2259
iPhone 5c – Edge $0 $103.06 $2473
iPhone 5s – Share 1GB $199 $90 $2359
iPhone 5s – Edge N/A N/A N/A

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T-Mobile

T-Mobile was the first carrier to take a leap and offer phones at full retail price with no contract or with an installment plan that comes with a low upfront payment. They also offer a $10 per month Jump plan that lets you upgrade every six months. The payment terms for the iPhone 5c and the 5s are pretty reasonable because there are no two-year service contracts. The total cost takes into account the cost of the phone as well as the required two-year monthly fees for the installment plan.

Upfront Cost Monthly Cost Total Cost
iPhone 5c – Retail $549 $0 $549
iPhone 5c – Installment $0 $22 $528
iPhone 5s – Retail $649 $0 $649
iPhone 5s – Installment $99 $22.91 $649
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Sprint

Sprint will be selling the iPhone 5s and the 5c with a two-year customer agreement, but you will have the option of signing up for an unlimited plan. The limited data plans start at $70 for 1GB of data, while an unlimited data will set you back $80 a month. The total cost takes into account the cost of the phone as well as the required two-year monthly service contract fees.

Upfront Cost Monthly Cost Total Cost
iPhone 5c $99 $70 $1779
iPhone 5s $199 $70 $1879
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AT&T

AT&T offers three different service plans for the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c. There is a Mobile Share plan that allows you to share data across multiple devices. There’s also a FamilyTalk plan and an Individual plan that let you buy a pool of minutes and ass data an messaging.

If you are a first adopter, AT&T has added a new payment program that lets you pay for your phone in installments and upgrade to a new phone after 12-months. Under the Next plan, the iPhone 5c costs you $0 upfront and then $22 a month for 20 months, while the iPhone 5s is $0 down with a monthly payment of $27. The total cost takes into account the cost of the phone as well as the required twenty-month monthly installment or contract service fees.

MOBILE SHARE Upfront Cost Monthly Cost Total Cost
iPhone 5c – contract $99 $70 $1779
iPhone 5c – Next $0 $92 $2120
iPhone 5c – Retail $549 $0 $549
iPhone 5s – contract $199 $70 $1879
iPhone 5s – Next $0 $97 $2220
iPhone 5s – Retail $649 $0 $649

 

FAMILYTALK Upfront Cost Monthly Cost Total Cost
iPhone 5c – contract $99 $139.99 $3558
iPhone 5c – Next $0 $183.99 $4240
iPhone 5c – Retail $549 $0 $1098 (2 lines)
iPhone 5s – contract $199 $139.99 $3758
iPhone 5s – Next $0 $193.99 $4440
iPhone 5s – Retail $649 $0 $1298 (2 lines)

 

INDIVIDUAL Upfront Cost Monthly Cost Total Cost
iPhone 5c – 2yr $99 $79.99 $2019
iPhone 5c – Next $0 $101.99 $2370
iPhone 5c – Retail $549 $0 $549
iPhone 5s – 2yr $199 $79.99 $2119
iPhone 5s – Next $0 $106.99 $2397
iPhone 5s – Retail $649 $0 $649

You plan to buy your new iPhone on which carrier. Let me know in the comments.