Once you've decided you should get an iPhone 4S, in the US the question becomes -- AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint, which carrier should you choose? Back in January we compared the AT&T iPhone to the Verizon iPhone, and if you're already tied to one carrier and don't want to pay early termination fees, the decision may be easy; if not, the information can be daunting and overwhelming. TiPb is here to help!
To see a breakdown of prices and features, follow along after the break!
The best way to compare prices, is with a chart. So here you go:
Unlimited data on Sprint
One thing to point out is that Sprint's prices include unlimited messaging and data and that AT&T and Verizon do not offer any unlimited data plan to new users (if you've previously had unlimited data, you may be grandfathered in and can ignore this). Unlimited data is a huge advantage that Sprint has over the other two carriers.
The coverage question
However, how much you get on paper for your money should not be the sole determining factor towards your decision. What good is unlimited data if you are frequently in places that don't have good reception. TiPb always recommends that you do further research on the carriers specifically in your area. Ask your friends, family, and co-workers which carriers they have and how pleased they are with their service.
Sprint is cheaper than AT&T and Verizon, but it's only about 4.8% cheaper than AT&T and about 9.1% cheaper than Verizon. It adds up, sure, but quality of service has some value as well, and it's up to you to determine how much that value is to you.
Please don't think I'm bashing Sprint, because I'm not. There are plenty of areas where Sprint blows AT&T away when it comes to reliable service, and there are also many places where all three carriers are equally just as good (or bad). The point I'm making is that you have to take many things into consideration when choosing a carrier.
CDMA/EV-DO vs. GSM/HSPA+
Another concern is simultaneous voice and data, a feature that is not compatible with Verizon's and Sprint's CDMA networks. You will need to be connected to Wi-Fi in order to access both voice and data at the same time with Verizon and Sprint. CDMA also has worse conference calling and other limitations.
Lastly, the Verizon and Sprint iPhone 4S will be no faster than the Verizon and Sprint iPhone 4 -- both use the same EV-DO data radio. However, the AT&T/GSM iPhone 4S will theoretically be up to twice as fast as the iPhone 4, supporting HSPA+ 14.4 mbps downloads. (Actually speeds in the real world can and will vary.)
For a complete rundown of the differences between AT&T's GSM and Verizon and Sprint's CDMA iPhone 4S functionality see:
- (check out our guide on the differences between GSM and CDMA).
Making the choice
We never claimed that choosing a carrier would be an easy decision, but we hope having the information in one place may help. If you have any questions, please ask us in the comments below or check out our Carrier Forums for help: