Wireless Cell Phone Carrier Comparison

More important than what cell phone you decide to purchase is what carrier you use. Here we compare three major wireless carriers; AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.

ATT formerly Cingular
The Editor Pick Editor's Pick

ATT formerly Cingular

Features:
- GSM Network
- exclusive iPhone service
- one bill service
- prepay
- voice & data
- txt & sms
- push to talk
- blackberry support
- customer service chat at website
- video services
- early nights & weekends
- Nation 1350 w/Rollover minutes
- Rate Plan Details:
-Anytime Minutes 1350
-Unlimited Night & Weekend minutes
-Unlimited Mobile to Mobile minutes
-Free Long Distance
-No Roaming Charges
-Additional minutes $.35/minute
-One-time activation fee $36.00
-call forwarding/hold/voicemail/waiting/ID
-2-year contract required

Avg. Price: $79.99

Learn More: Free Bluetooth Headset from AT&T With Plan

T-Mobile Wireless Service

T-Mobile Wireless Service

Features:
- GSM capable
- Blackberry support
- Prepaid
- business services
- Rate Plan Features
-MyFaves 1500
-No nationwide long-distance or roaming charges
-Nationwide Whenever MinutesŪ
-Whenever minutes 1500 per month
-unlimited weekend minutes
-unlimited weeknight minutes
-unlimited myFaves minutes
-no Mobile to mobile minutes
-no shared minutes
-Additional minutes $.20 per minute
-no data transfer

-call forwarding/hold/voicemail/waiting/ID
-2-year contract required

Avg. Price: $69.99

Learn More: Special T-Mobile Offers from Wifefly

Verizon Wireless Carrier

Verizon Wireless Carrier

Features:
- CDMA Wireless Network
- business services
- one bill service
- prepay
- customer service chat at website
- ring-back tones
- blackberry support
- Rate Plan Details
-America's Choice Basic 1350
-Unlimited Night & Weekend Minutes
-Unlimited IN Calling
-3-Way Calling
-Voice Mail
-Caller ID
-Additional minutes $.35/minute
-No roaming charges
-2-year contract required

Avg. Price: $79.99

Learn More: Get Special Discounts on Verizon Packages

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What research says

The research for this comparison was extensive: Data was gathered from handset owners, retail stores, merchants, online reviews, each companies website and calls to the customer service department of each wireless carrier. Due to the extreme number of options, limitations, and services of each of these wireless carriers we've used a similar calling plan for the comparisons. Because costs vary by location, it is very important to consider your location in your considerations. For this wireless comparison the zip code 45202 was our basis which is Cincinnati, Ohio. The plan we chose is a voice, non-data, personal calling plan with 1350 minutes (T-Mobile's closest plan actually had 1500 minutes).

These network wireless carriers all have some basic similarity such as: prepaid, family/group plans, 2-year contracts, no digital roaming charges, unlimited nights and weekends, and more. There are however some very clear and important differences. First the network capabilities, if you are local, plan to keep to bigger U.S. cities, and not leave the country then Verizon's CDMA network will not affect you much. Verizon does offer travelers a solution by purchasing a Verizon Global Phone and a Verizon all digital calling plan. You would then have to switch the phone to GSM mode where you will be billed a flat per-minute rate. There are some small areas abroad that use CDMA, however, in those areas international roaming rates will still apply. Both AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM networks that allow their phones to easily interface with the GSM standard in place in other parts of the world. While the phones from AT&T and T-Mobile do operate outside the U.S. and offer more compatability with foreign networks, extra fees will apply unless you select a calling plan that includes international roaming and access.

These wireless carriers also have different data network capabilites, however since we've selected a calling plan where data transfer is not included we will not cover that information. Independent research shows that in all regions of the U.S. Verizon and T-Mobile tie for customer satisfaction with the carriers customer service departments and overall performance of the phones themselves. In terms of coverage it is immeadiately clear that Verizon and AT&T have the greatest coverage in the U.S. you will need to check the coverage in your area by entering your zip code at the carrier's website. It must be noted that having a large coverage area has little to do with call quality. In terms of dropped calls the consumers in most major cites go for Verizon, followed by T-Mobile and finally AT&T. This is an area of variance because dropped calls stem from many things, mostly network overload, so in an area where there is a great amount of cell-traffic and and not enough towers, bandwith and repeaters to handle the load, any call can be dropped on any network.

Your considerations in purchasing a cell phone should always start with your choice of wireless carrier. The very beginning however should be your needs. Do you only need prepay for emergency purposes? Will you be emailing from Brussels? Need a group rate or family plan? In short start with your needs, and then pick a wireless carrier and plan that suits your lifestyle.

Willis said:

I have T-Mobile and am very happy with their service. They're a great wireless provider and my cell phone gets good reception even up in the mountains when my friends' cells are dead. But what really PISSES ME OFF about T-Mobile is the little 18-year-old jerks in the mall who heckle you when you walk by the booth like you're in some kind of back alley market in China. It is ANNOYING. STOP YELLING AT ME WHEN I WALK BY YOU LITTLE PUNKS! Good cell phone carrier review though. Thanks for the thought-out comparison.

Anupma said:

T-mobile sucks...
i used T-mobile for about five months and had hard time reciving calls from non T-mobile phones. Callers heard wieed messages, such as the customer you are trying to reach has blocked your number etc. the customer support was terribel... aksed to turn the phone off and back on again and then said that they have forwarded the complint to concerned dept and we should enquire in 15 days... which never ever got fixed.
After we registered a complaint with Better business bureau, T-mobile agreed to terminate our contract. But this was not all, the T-mobile flexpay system charged our credit card for next months bill even though we had terminated our service a week before the next billing cycle start date. When we contacted the customer care, they said they are sorry about that but since the money has been charged they can not refund back. our credit card company refused to pay them after we registered it as disputed transation so they sent us the bill. Still dealing with their harassment...

Harris Wheeler said:

I need to see side by side comparison. I have just paid $300 for 2 wireless phones. There has to be a plan better....

Joe said:

Sprint?

dp said:

I've been a Tmobile member for years and even though there is no service that is 100% perfect, I have had far less problems and complaints than my friends have with the other companies. I have had service when they didn't, cheaper prices, more options, great service...I'm not switching.

ritacatl said:

T-Mobile use to be good a long time ago but not anymore. Their customer service center is in India, you have a hard time understanding them and vice-versa. Many times, they don't really understand what your asking them. That's the first issue I have with them. The second, I get absolutely now bars/service in my house. I literally have to go outside and walk around my yard to use it. VERY inconvenient when there's 3' of snow outside.

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