AT&T vs Verizon: Which 4G iPad should you get?

Once you've decided to get a new iPad, picked out your color, and settled on your storage capacity, if you're going with the 4G LTE model of the new iPad in the US, the question becomes -- AT&T or Verizon, which carrier should you choose? For most of us, the decision will come down to three factors - coverage, pricing and tethering.

Here's how it breaks down.

Pricing plans

Here's the pricing comparison chart that Apple displays on the ordering page for the new iPad. All plans are commitment free -- you can cancel at anytime.

So with regards to cost, you need to ask yourself how much data you plan on using. Realistically, if you have Wifi at home, work and school (if you're a student), you can probably get by just fine with AT&T's 250MB per month plan and cut the monthly cost in half.

On the other hand, if you plan to consume a lot of data, Verizon may be the way to go since they offer a 10GB per month plan.

LTE availability

In addition to price, you must also consider where each carrier offers coverage and if you're within that area. Here's a side by side comparison of Verizon's and AT&T's coverage maps (left is Verizon, right is AT&T).

at&t vs verizon coverage maps

Clearly, Verizon has much more LTE availability (green dots vs orange dots.)  If you live in an area where Verizon offers LTE and AT&T does not, your best bet is to probably go with Verizon, providing that their network is pretty solid in that area. If you're not sure, ask your family, friends, and coworkers who have LTE phones on Verizon's network.

If LTE is not available to you on either network, the next thing to look at is 3G coverage. If you live somewhere that only gets EDGE on AT&T (light blue on AT&T's map), Verizon is the way to go.

Most of you, however, will be in one of these last two categories: an LTE available area on both Verizon and AT&T, or, in a 3G, but not LTE available area on both Verizon and AT&T. For those of you in this category, I'm inclined to recommend AT&T, provided that the 3G network is stable in your area. Again, ask your friends, family, and coworkers for their experience.

Why AT&T, you ask? Because AT&T's HSPA and HSPA+ 3G networks are faster than Verizon's CDMA 3G network. It's all about the speed.

You can get a closer look at AT&T's coverage map here and Verizon's map here.


If you want to have the ability to tether your iPad's network connection to your computer, then Verizon in your only choice. Verizon includes tethering in their data plans and does not come at an additional cost.

As of right now, AT&T does not offer this functionality.

Making the choice

So which one are you going to choose? Personally, since AT&T's LTE network is not available in my area, but Verizon's is, it was a no-brainer for me to choose Verizon (even though my iPhone is with AT&T). What about you?