iPhone Life magazine

WHICH CARRIER IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

With the introduction of Sprint as a wireless carrier for the iPhone, users have an additional choice when it comes to wireless service. Choices are great, but it also means you’ll have to carefully analyze the benefits and drawback of each carrier to make sure you get the best possible service. Here’s a breakdown of the most important aspects and features from Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint.

COST

Penny Pincher catagory (450 minutes)

#1 AT&T: $54.99 for 450 min, no text, 200MB of data, and no Hotspot.

#2 Sprint: $69.99 for 450 min, unlimited text, no data, and no Hotspot.

#3 Verizon: $69.99 for 450 min, no text, 2GB of data, no Hotspot.

Winner: AT&T

AT&T wins the penny pinchers category, but that is only true if you are not much of a data user. Otherwise Sprint wins this category.

Average user catagory (900 minutes)

#1 Verizon: $119.99 for 900 min, 500 text, 4GB of data, and Hotspot ready (+$10 for unlimited texting).

#2 AT&T: $124.99 for 900 min, unlimited text, 4GB of data, and Hotspot ready

.#3 Sprint: $129.98 for 900 min, unlimited text, unlimited data, and Hotspot ready.

Winner: Verizon

Verizon wins so long as the user does not exceed the 500 monthly text limits. Otherwise, AT&T wins another category. Sprint does offer the most features, but it costs more.

Everything catagory (unlimited minutes and Hotspot ready)

#1 Sprint: $139.98 for unlimited voice, unlimited text, unlimited data, and Hotspot ready.

#2 AT&T: $134.99 for unlimited voice, unlimited text, 4GB of data, and Hotspot ready.

#3 Verizon: $139.99 for unlimited voice, unlimited text, 4GB of data, and Hotspot ready.

Winner: Sprint

If you are a data fiend, then Sprint wins. However, it’s the slowest network, so you should take that into consideration. AT&T could save you $5 per month, but that’s for 4GB of data plus an additional $10 for every single extra GB.

USAGE

If you are a penny pincher, then AT&T is your best bet. They offer the lowest costs in all categories except for texting. You will have to pay for each individual text unless you get the unlimited texting plan for $20 more.

If you are the average user who enjoys all of the features that the iPhone 4S has to offer, then your best bet is with Verizon. If you use more than 500 texts a month, then AT&T would be better because of their unlimited texting plan. Sprint would be my third choice should I not need unlimited text or unlimited data.

If you are a data fiend, then Sprint is for you. Sprint offers Unlimited Everything plans for $109.99, but this does not include Hotspot. If you plan on using Hotspot, then you would be better off with Verizon or AT&T.

RECEPTION

#1 Verizon: Nationwide coverage that is the most reliable.

#2 AT&T: Great if near big cities, but can become very weak in rural areas.#3 Sprint: Slowly establishing themselves as a powerhouse but at the moment remains behind Verizon and AT&T.Winner: VerizonVerizon simply has the best nationwide coverage with the fewest dropped calls.

4G Network:

#1 AT&T: Only provider that offers a 4G network, but their network cannot support the iPhone’s full 14.4 Mbps capabilities.

#2 Verizon: Not offered for iPhone 4S.

#2 Sprint: Not offered for iPhone 4S.

Winner: AT&T

Apple’s new iPhone 4S has a 14.4 Mbps data download speed that technically puts it in the realm of 4G LTE competitors, but US residents won’t benefit from this potential feature because the three domestic carriers can’t support it yet.3G Network:

#1 AT&T: Fastest 3G network, and in some cases it is a great deal faster than Verizon.

#2 Verizon: Slower than AT&T; doesn’t allow multitasking.

#3 Sprint: Has the slowest 3G network out of the three.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Sprint only makes sense if you will be using tons of data on the iPhone, and you’re within a good coverage area. Verizon has the best network and is best suited for the everyday user. AT&T is best for either the penny pincher or speed demon.