In the technologically advanced world of today, most individuals own a cell phone, which means that they have a relationship or a contract with one of the four major wireless service carriers in the country. Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, or Sprint has your business; regardless of how much you use your phone. With that in mind, prospective cell phone users will want to compare the companies to find the best one for their needs. Verizon is by far the largest network option that they can choose from, and Sprint is the smallest, which leaves AT&T and T-Mobile holding up the middle of the market. Compare T-Mobile vs AT&T plans below to get an idea of the difference between the two carriers' offerings.
These two companies offer the same phone options and very similar plans, so what makes them stand apart? AT&T has the larger coverage options for the United States, but T-Mobile features worldwide data coverage that utilizes WI-FI calling options in locations where the signal may be lacking. Here’s a closer look that compares AT&T and T-Mobile and the data plans that each company offers.
Comparing Wireless Plans and Pricing
AT&T has placed their focus on having a large area of cellular coverage and a large variety of some of the best Smartphones; in fact, they strive to have more available than any other company in the industry. Going with AT&T means that users will have a Mobile Share Advantage Plan. Like many of the modern wireless plans that are offered today, this plan will have unlimited calling and texting within the United States. The difference is the plans comes into play with the data plan. A family can have one gigabyte for $30 a month, or if a lot of data will be used each month, there is also a 100 gigabyte plan to select that costs $450.
Plans that feature ten gigabytes or higher receive free calling and texts to Mexico and Canada as well, which means there will be no roaming or long distance charges in North America. Up to ten individual devices can be connected to a plan, and if the data level is exceeded, there are no overage charges. Once the data pan is exceeded, the speed of the service will be slowed. If all of the data paid for is not used, it will roll over to the next month and be available for use. If multiple devices are on the plan, the bill will show which devices used which data, and the cost will be split up between the devices.
Adding a new phone to an existing plan only runs about $20 a month, while adding a tablet or gaming device is $10 extra per device. Terminating your contract with AT&T before the two year or one year period that was agreed upon will result in an early termination fee of $325. Paying the entire fee may not be required because $10 will be subtracted from the fee for every month that the contract remained intact. Any tablet that was under a contract will cost $150 with $4 deducted for each month that was fulfilled.
T-Mobile was the company that actually began using shared data plans first, but now the main plan that they offer is called-Mobile One. Calls, text, and data are all unlimited on this plan, which features a 4G LTE network connection. Everything is also free when connecting to Canada and Mexico. In addition, text and data can be used almost anywhere around the world and Gogo enabled flights also offers unlimited texting as well as the first hour of data usage at no cost. This plan also gives users unlimited music and video streaming capabilities, which means that streaming Netflix on a bus is now a possibility.
Additional lines are easy to add, and each additional phone that is added to the plan costs less than the previous one. The first phone will cost $70, the second is $50, the third is $20, and the fourth one is free. That means that if the bill is split between the four phones it is about $35 dollars a month. A tablet can have unlimited access for $20 a month and wearable tech can be added for $5 a month. T-Mobile does not currently charge a fee for terminating a contract with them early. The remaining cost of the phone that you purchase will need to be paid though.
Apple iPhone 7 – The phone that features a 32 gigabyte storage capacity is the most powerful iPhone to date. It is fast, reliable, and it offers a great battery life. The screen is brighter than all of the iPhones to date, and it features a new camera system that is amazing. Purchasing this phone will require no deposit, and the payments can be as low as about $22 a month with AT&T Next.
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge – This phone features a 5.5 inch display that reached the edges of the phone for a fully immersive experience. It offers users 256 gigabytes of expandable memory as well as the world’s first duel pixel camera. If additional space is desired, memory cards can be purchased for an additional cost. Prices for the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge start at about $27 a month with AT&T Next, and there is no down payment required.
LG G5 – This phone features a sleek and stylish all metal design that is impressive. The device also features dual rear cameras that will capture amazing footage. This phone requires no money down, and the payments can be as low as $23 a month with AT&T Next.
What is AT&T Next? Instead of covering the cost of the phone initially, the cost can be placed on a plan that adds monthly installments to the bill. The service allows users to choose from any phone, most of which are $0 down. Then, an installment plan is selected; typically, monthly installments of about $30 will pay off the phone or make it eligible for a trade in within a period of two years. There is also a Next Every Year option that allows for a trade in after installments have been made for an entire year. For lower monthly payments, a down payment can be given. Regardless of the installment plan selected, upgrades will be available after the first two months of ownership as long as 50 percent of the price is covered.
Apple iPhone 7 – The version of this phone that offers 32 gigabytes of storage is available for a monthly payment of about $27 a month, which is about $5 more a month than the cost of the same phone at AT&T. There is no upfront cost required with the purchase of this phone.
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge – This Samsung phone will also be available with no money down and a monthly payment of about $33 for a period of 24 months. Once again, this is about $5 more a month than the price that AT&T is offering.
LG G5 – Deciding on this phone will require monthly installments of about $21 to be made for a 24 month period of time. No down payment is required upon purchase. This price point is only $2 more a month than AT&T.
With this payment plan, the phone is essentially being leased. When the 24 monthly payments have been covered, users can choose to pay off the phone or trade it in for a newer version or a different phone completely. If T-Mobile services are terminated, the remaining cost of the phone must be covered.
Both T-Mobile and AT&T have an option that allows new customers to use the phone that is currently owned by them. When the terms of a contract are fulfilled, the wireless company is required to unlock the phone so that it can be used with the services that other companies provide. If using a phone that is already owned by the individual is desired, all that is required is for a new SIM card to be placed in the phone. Currently, both phones are offering this Sim card to new customers free of charge.
Coverage and Additional Information
When it comes to coverage and service, AT&T and T-Mobile have completely different experiences from one another. On average, 4G subscribers on AT&T tend to have 4G LTE service available to them about 82.63 percent of the time. On the other hand, T-Mobile doesn’t trail far in this regard, with an 81.23 percent coverage rate for its users. Both of these providers have a fairly consistent experience when it comes to overall 4G LTE coverage, with AT&T slightly edging out its competitor by scarcely more than a percentage point.
When it comes to overall download speeds at 4G levels of coverage, T-Mobile takes it in this one. At these connection speeds, T-Mobile users can receive speeds up to 12.26 megabytes per second (Mbps), which is much faster than AT&T’s 7.93Mbps. This noticeable difference between the two communications giants is noticeably broadened by T-Mobile’s free streaming services.
At legacy 3G speeds, T-Mobile outperforms once again, with an average 3.48Mbps versus AT&T’s 2.22Mbps. As a matter of fact, T-Mobile is the market leader when it comes to 3G download speeds and slightly edges out Verizon when it comes to the faster 4G connections.
When it comes to latency on both 4G LTE and 3G connections, T-Mobile is also the winner. Latency is the data delay that occurs as information travels between points within the network. This is typically measured in milliseconds and for 4G connections, T-Mobile has an average 77.44ms latency and a 109.94ms latency for 3G connections. AT&T, on the other hand, has an average 85.03ms latency for 4G and a 113.32ms latency on the slower connection.
When it comes to overall coverage, AT&T simply has a denser 4G LTE coverage map than T-Mobile. Having said this, both companies are relatively ill-represented in the more sparsely populated Midwest areas. Even so, AT&T has a higher rate of overall coverage per customer, so users of their service should have a more consistent 4G LTE experience, they’ll just have to deal with lower overall download speeds. The company even covers areas that fall outside of the continental United States like Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and parts of Alaska.
AT&T or T-Mobile: Which is the better option?
This one is a hard call to make. AT&T wins by a small margin in coverage, but has a share plan that is based on data usage, so large families may have issues with going over the allotted amount. This will slow the connection and make it difficult to navigate across all of the devices attached to the plan. T-Mobile on the other hand offers unlimited everything, including streaming services. Data and texting is free from anywhere in the world, and the T-Mobile One plan makes it easy to add additional phones for only $35 each. Both companies offer great services, so the bottom line in choosing which is the better option is going to depend on the area that each individual lives in. Everyone has different needs when it comes to a wireless service, so decide what is important before making a final decision.
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