Since I have owned a device on every major cellular network in the US in the past few months, I think I amin a unique position to know exactly how each network performs and what the pros and cons of each are (at least from the standpoint of someone living in the Atlanta, GA area). I also have a lot of 4G WiMAX experience, so I will throw my ideas about it as well. Let’s get started:
So there are really two types of cell phone users out there. People who like their phones to primarily make calls and not do much else, and people who like to use their smartphones for almost everything but phone calls. Think about this for a minute, because depending on which type of person you are your gonna like certain networks over others (the quick answer is Verizon 😉
So. AT&T. In my experience, the nation’s fastest 3G network. And they have coverage all over metro areas, and in the majority of fringe highways and sorts. You may not see that 3G network in your basement though, and unfortunately when the network gets overloaded, you could see 5 bars of 3G and still not be able to get connected. This contributes to dropped calls as well.
Next, Verizon. You may have heard that this is the best network out there, and no, Im not going to say that. But it does have a HUGE 3G footprint across the nation, and it seems very reliable for call quality, but they are not perfect. I’ve experienced a few dropped calls (not as many as others), but where Verizon gets a black mark in my book is the speed of their 3G network. Ive very seldom been able to see over 1.5mbit consistently on this network, which is not good when compared to others.
T-Mobile. I had the nexus one on this network, but I only had it for six hours. Why? I sent it back. Because of the phone? No, I loved that phone dearly even though I had only used it for a few hours, I sent it back because in my location (my apartment) I did not get a 3G signal. Well, I did, when I stood still and faced north.. and even then it was only one bar. My point is this: T-Mobile is the newest to this 3G game, and they are still building out their initial network, so dont expect coverage to be their strong suit. They are cheap though, if thats what you are looking for.
Sprint. This network is actually one that kinda sneaks up on you from behind. Why? Because it has a history of being terrible, but as far as I can tell they are just as good as Verizon for call quality and the scarcity of dropped calls. AND they stomp Verizon when it comes to cell network speeds, not even close. Verizon’s footprint is still bigger however. On top of that, they have also bought in to the first 4G WiMAX in the states, which is awesome IF you live in one of the lucky cities that actually has it (like Atlanta). A little note on 4G, its awesome if your sitting still, drops out a little too much if your moving. Just FYI, its still a work in progress. But the speeds are like your DSL at home, which is worth it for me.
So. If you want an iPhone, get AT&T. Its your only choice, and you might be disappointed to see how slow Verizon’s data speeds actually are. If you don’t care about data so much, and want a phone that will work just about anywhere, Verizon all the way. If you need a combo of both, Sprint looks like a winner, and the 4G network is a nice plus. If your on a budget and need a cell phone, maybe T-Mobile will work for you. I wasn’t impressed.