With all five major carriers offering unlimited plans, which one is the best?
Note: Even though this is a weekend post, it is available to everyone because of its importance.
First, let’s go over which carrier has the best network, then go on from there. According to OpenSignal, T-Mobile has the best network, which you can read a bit more about here. Next, let’s use a combination of coverage maps and Ookla’s results to determine the next best carriers. Going by speed and coverage, Verizon comes next and is very close to T-Mobile it terms of LTE availability, and speed. Coming after Verizon is AT&T, again based off its combination of speed and coverage. Next, based off coverage is Sprint, and then U.S. Cellular.
Now that we’ve sorted out the carriers by their networks, let’s look at pricing, first for a single line, and then for four lines. It’s worth mentioning that we will be comparing AT&T’s Plus plan, not their cheaper Choice plan, as that caps speeds at 3mbps and does not offer any hotspot(unlike the other plans I will compare). Another thing to note is we are comparing Sprint’s normal pricing, not their promotions as they are not permanent, and even if you sign up for them, they will expire and you’ll need to pay the normal amount. Coming in as the most expensive is AT&T, with a whopping $90 a month for one person, not including taxes and fees! Next is Verizon, charging $80 a month for one person, followed by U.S. Cellular’s $70 a month for one person, with T-Mobile having the same $70 a month(but including all taxes and fees), and the cheapest is: Sprint, charging $60 a month for one line. Now, the family plan: AT&T is again the most expensive, charging $185 a month for a family of four, Verizon charges $180, U.S. Cellular and Sprint both will charge you $160 a month for unlimited, and so will T-Mobile(but with taxes and fees included).
Next, let’s compare what each Unlimited plan offers. All carriers(except U.S. Cellular) will deprioritize you, but at different amounts. U.S. Cellular throttles you to 2g speeds once you hit 22GB, AT&T and VerizonÂ deprioritize you after 22GB, Sprint after 23GB, and T-Mobile offers the most, currently offering 32GB before deprioritizing you. All carriers(except U.S. Cellular) offer “Unlimited” talk, text, in data in Mexico and Canada, but all of them place restrictions. For example, Verizon only gives you 512MB a day of LTE speed data, then slows you down. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular all give you 10GB of LTE speed hotspot, then Verizon slows you to 3G speeds, whereas Sprint and AT&T throttle your hotspot to 2g speeds after 10GB. T-Mobile One includes unlimited 3G hotspot, but their One Plus plan includes 10GB of LTE hotspot, and other features. T-Mobile’s unlimited plan seems to offer the most benefits, such as GoGo in flight WiFi, unlimited texting and 2g data in over 140 countries, free stuff every Tuesday, and more.
Overall, my ranking of the unlimited plans would be:
- T-Mobile because of their features, network, and pricing
- Verizon because of their strong coverage, with better pricing than AT&T
- AT&T because of their network and ok deals if you bundle with their Direct TV service
- Sprint because of their poor network, but cheap pricing.
- U.S. Cellular is last because of their network and throttling their “Unlimited” plans