AT&T vs Verizon iPhone 5: Why AT&T Won My Wallet

Choosing the right iPhone 5 carrier is more difficult than ever since 4G LTE is now a factor. Unfortunately, none of the three major iPhone 5 carriers are right for everybody and some buyers will miss out on the phone’s most important new feature if they don’t choose the right one.

My wife and I have been loyal AT&T customers for six years, since the original iPhone launched in 2006. For the first few years of the iPhone’s existence, AT&T rightfully earned a reputation for dropping calls, poor data connections and generally pissing off customers, especially in some markets such as New York and San Francisco.

iPhone 5 DesignBut AT&T’s stepped up its game quite a bit since it lost its iPhone exclusivity when Verizon began selling the iPhone 4 in early 2011.  A Verizon iPhone 4 wasn’t an option for me as I’d already owned an AT&T iPhone 4 for eight months by the time Apple rolled out the Verizon version. And I stuck with the AT&T for the iPhone 4S  because it had the fastest data connection and I could finally place calls reliably.

AT&T vs. Verizon iPhone 5 4G LTE Speeds and Coverage

AT&T and Verizon are the only two iPhone carriers I considered this time around. Both deliver streaming speeds that match or best most people’s home Internet connections. Sprint also has a 4G LTE network, but it’s not live in San Francisco and currently available in just 19 markets, with plans to expand in the months after the iPhone 5 launch. The closest Sprint 4G LTE coverage after Sprint’s done with its next 4G LTE rollout will be 400 miles away in Los Angeles.

iPhone 5 Veizon vs AT&T

I initially wanted to go with a pair of Verizon iPhone 5s since Verizon has the most mature 4G LTE network, covering nearly 400 cities. I’ve been very pleased with Verizon’s 4G LTE network when using my New iPad and Galaxy Nexus in San Francisco. I’ve also seen good results when traveling to places like New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania, but Verizon 4G LTE still isn’t everywhere.

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Read More: New iPad Speed Tests: AT&T vs. Verizon 4G LTE

As you can see in the above video, AT&T’s 4G LTE network is as fast, if not faster than Verizon’s. AT&T’s 4G LTE network is in less than 50 markets as of today, but it is strong in my home town of San Francisco and the surrounding areas. AT&T plans to roll out 4G LTE to about 50 new markets by the end of the year.

 

Simultaneous Talk and Data

All iPhone 5 versions can of course handle simultaneous voice and data while on Wi-Fi networks, but the AT&T iPhone 5 is the only one that can let users access the Internet while on a call. That feature might not matter to some, but it’s a deal breaker for my wife and I.

Want to look up directions or movie times while on a call with the Sprint or Verizon iPhone 5? No can do if you’re away from a Wi-Fi network. Want to find a nearby restaurant to tell a caller where to meet you? Only the iPhone 5 can help you with that task.

AT&T Mobile Share plans allow subscribers to use the iPhone 5′s Mobile Hotspot feature for no additional fee. That means users can use the AT&T iPhone 5 to access the Internet with a laptop while on a conference call. With the Verizon and Sprint iPhone 5, users will see their laptop connections drop whenever they receive a call.

What’s maddening about the lack of simultaneous talk and data on the Verizon iPhone 5 is that the Verizon supports the feature on its other 4G LTE phones. Of course, those that don’t often use their iPhones as phones won’t mind this limitation.

AT&T Has a Better 3G/HSPA+ Network

I actually bought Sprint, Verizon and AT&T iPhone 4s’ to see which one had the best data connection. AT&T’s HSPA+ network was the only one of the three that could deliver decent download speeds and stream video here in San Francisco.

Read More: iPhone 4S 3G Speed Test: AT&T vs. Sprint vs. Verizon

4G LTE is several times faster than 3G and the wireless technology AT&T calls 4G (HSPA+ ). But these slower networks will serve as fallbacks when 4G LTE isn’t available. Verizon and Sprint 3G is simply too slow for how I use the iPhone and I’d much rather rely on AT&T’s HSPA+ in a pinch than risk a nearly unusable 3G connection.

 

Comments

  1. pshhhh .... iPhone 5 says

    The iPhone was engineered for use on AT&T’s network. End of story. I’m Android all the way, btw. Video calling over cellular data- Check 4G LTE – Check This is nothing new for me.. or any other Android user.

  2. Sarah says

    Please hold for a Verizon Wireless sales representative to assist you with your order. Thank you for your patience.
    You are now chatting with ‘Travis’
    Sarah: Hi
    Travis: Hello. Thank you for visiting our chat service. May I help you with your order today?
    Sarah: I would like to upgrade two of my phone under my account with the preferred pricing and keep my unlimited data.
    Travis: I’d be happy to assist you.
    Travis: I do apologize, but if you are upgrading to smartphones, you will be required to change the unlimited data plan. We no longer have unlimited data plans.
    Sarah: I’m asking you please.
    Sarah: I’ve been at this company for over ten years
    Sarah: You are being unfair.
    Sarah: Please.
    Sarah: I’ve been waiting for the iPhone 5 and so has the other person under my account.
    Travis: I do understand, but the only way to keep your unlimited data is to purchase the device at full retail price.
    Sarah: That’s a dick move on your part.
    Sarah: Seriously fuck you guys.
    Sarah: I hate Verizon.
    Sarah: We’re going to leave your company.
    Sarah: Nothing but lies and empty promises.
    Sarah: I’m fed up.
    Sarah: I want the iPhones with discount pricing (I’ve earned it) and unlimited data or we’re leaving because we are NOT under contract anymore.
    Travis: I do understand your concern. We no longer have unlimited data and teh pricing in red is the discounted pricing for the iPhone 5.
    Sarah: Either you offer me my way or we are leaving.
    Sarah: Do you even care?
    Sarah: I’ve been with your company for over ten years.
    Travis: I do apologize, but we no longer have unlimited data plans.
    Sarah: I don’t know how you can work for such an unethical company.
    Sarah: I hate Verizon and I will be telling everyone I know how horrible you are.
    Travis: is there anything else that I can help you with tonight?
    Sarah: Nothing but candid answers. Can’t you help me?
    Sarah: I’m giving you the opportunity to keep my business.
    Travis: The only way that you can keep your unlimited data is to purchase the device that you want at full retail price.
    Sarah: I hate your company.
    Sarah: and I’m one of the “good” customers.
    Sarah: Worst thing that ever happen to Alltel was Verizon buying it out.
    Sarah: You let me down today.
    Sarah: Very poor customer service.
    Travis: Will you be placing an order tonight?
    Sarah: I will if you allow me to have premium pricing and keep my unlimited data plans.
    Travis: We no longer have unlimited data, unless you purchase the device at full retail price.
    Sarah: You have no sense of customer loyalty.
    Travis: It has been my pleasure to chat with you today! Please feel free to re-open the chat session if you need further assistance . Thank you and have a great day!
    Sarah: Do you care?
    Thank you for chatting with us, visit our Online Workshops to learn more about your devices. Click “End Chat” to tell us how we did today via our survey.

    • Sean says

      “Sarah: That’s a dick move on your part.
      Sarah: Seriously fuck you guys.
      Sarah: I hate Verizon.”
      …..
      “Sarah: and I’m one of the “good” customers.”
      HA good customer, I hope your a 16 year old girl saying immature crap like that.

    • Natalie says

      I just canceled with AT&T because they changed my unlimited plan without my knowledge or consent. I have spent over 6 hours talking to whomever I can to change back to my old plan. AT&T’s response was the same as Verizon’s. It’s almost the same conversation I’ve been having with them, only I already have an iPhone 4s.

      • MP says

        If you were smart, you would’ve done some research and realized he only way to keep your unlimited plan with AT&T was by ordering via phone or in store and confirming with your rep that the unlimited plan is still there. News websites warned unlimited users of this countless times.

    • Lucy Saxon says

      You sound like a rude, entitled, 16 year old girl who is used to getting her way. The customer service representative had nothing to do with taking away the data plans and you’re treating them very poorly. I just wish he had told you to fuck off like you clearly deserved.

    • Brandon says

      Fyi, they don’t give a shit. Because the people who answer the phones and messages aren’t even working for the company. So they could careless about it. They’re people making minimum wage paid at call centers answering phones for random companies. They’re trained to say a few lines and that’s it. If you where smart you would have went into a actually Verizon and talked to somebody.

  3. Nick says

    Why do you feel you are owed something for being a customer for ten years? Face it, there are millions of ten year customers there and you want to be treated differently and get things your way cause you want to save money. If you want to be grandfathered in then cough up the money and pay full price.

  4. Joe Blue says

    If you live or work in Palo Alto or San Francisco, forget AT&T. I can’t tell you how many dropped calls I’ve had in the past 3 years — 3 today alone. And don’t me started on AT&T’s DSL service. I was on the phone with them today for the 4th time in the past few weeks. The company is an unmitigated disaster. Sure, they’re cheaper than Verizon, but only because you can’t make a reliable phone call on their network.

  5. Michael says

    The speed test cracks me up. AT&T’s LTE Network is like driving on an empty Highway. Verizon has about 200x as many LTE people taking up bandwidth as AT&T.

  6. CChance says

    I have upgraded my phone three times since Verizon dropped its unlimited data plan. Guess what? I still have unlimited data!! I’ts called the grandfather law. No matter what a company says, they can’t drop the plan you signed for, unless you deliberately go against the contract you signed. For those still reading, you may not get unlimited data, but at least you get data when you actuallywant it. Back to my point, I have an android with Verizon, and my friends have iphones, one android, and the other at&t. neither get service, and being business owners that travel, it’s up to me. Now I can honestly say that apple products are useless, being a previous owner of the 3g and 4s. apple owners just blindly follow others to have the “best” phone on the market.. by the way, how is the maps program working now that you don’t have Google maps, all cause apple couldn’t own them? now that my apple rant is out of the way, i say Verizon. My parents live in a town just barely north of Denver. A simple distance away from a major city, and they still had to buy a ” power bar” for service. They still don’t get 3g without being on the same floor. As I get 4g without trying on Verizon. My bottom line is get Verizon for service, and buy anything but apple for functionality and practicality.

  7. CChance says

    I have upgraded my phone three times since Verizon dropped its unlimited data plan. Guess what? I still have unlimited data!! I’ts called the grandfather law. No matter what a company says, they can’t drop the plan you signed for, unless you deliberately go against the contract you signed. For those still reading, you may not get unlimited data, but at least you get data when you actuallywant it. Back to my point, I have an android with Verizon, and my friends have iphones, one android, and the other at&t. neither get service, and being business owners that travel, it’s up to me. Now I can honestly say that apple products are useless, being a previous owner of the 3g and 4s. apple owners just blindly follow others to have the “best” phone on the market.. by the way, how is the maps program working now that you don’t have Google maps, all cause apple couldn’t own them? now that my apple rant is out of the way, i say Verizon. My parents live in a town just barely north of Denver. A simple distance away from a major city, and they still had to buy a ” power bar” for service. They still don’t get 3g without being on the same floor. As I get 4g without trying on Verizon. My bottom line is get Verizon for service, and buy anything but apple for functionality and practicality.

  8. Tommy says

    CChance…actually, there’s no Grandfather “LAW” – there’s no such thing. This is an individual company contracted policy. Once you sign that contract for the unlimited data, they must honor it (as per terms of the contract) unless you breach or cancel said contract in any way. Therefore, if you decided to upgrade early but you weren’t due for an upgrade and purchased the phone at full price, that would be considered a continuation of your current contract (which this Sarah person above us obviously does not know because they would NOT have changed her plan) UNLESS she had late payments or somehow breached her contract. But this has nothing to do with penal codes, federal statutes, or the LAW – simple civil contracts.

  9. Saikyou says

    “As you can see in the above video, AT&T’s 4G LTE network is as fast, if not faster than Verizon’s.”
    Am I missing something? It looks like the AT&T iPad got beaten pretty soundly by the Verizon one. Barely equal if that. Of course, it could be slower because the AT&T one wasn’t at full bars – but the fact that the AT&T one had limited coverage and the Verizon one had full bars doesn’t speak well for AT&T. Anyway, how the hell did the author draw the conclusion that the AT&T network is at least as fast as Verizon’s, based on that video?

  10. karenengel says

    “AT&T Mobile Share plans allow subscribers to use the iPhone 5′s Mobile Hotspot feature for no additional fee. ”

    If this is true – then I can use the ATT Mobile Share with the iPhone HotSpot to get online anywhere with my iPad2 = no need for a data plan of it’s own?

    • George says

      I have no direct experience with this other than Internet research and customer service phone communications. I think your ipad2 is a 3G device so although your on a 4G LTE network you will be operating at 3G speeds.

      • Phil says

        George- You would be operating your iPad on WiFi off of the phone’s connection. The cellular data connection speed of the iPad is irrelevant.

        Karen- Correct. Although most people are too lazy to think of it that way and instead just buy the data plan for the iPad.

  11. Jim says

    To CChance ..android phones suck balls ..they come out with a new cheap piece of crap every 6 months . I still have an original iphone as my travel phone and its awesome ! I’ve dropped it a number of times and it just keeps on truckin . I also have an iphone 5 that I love ..not because its apple but because its a well made product that will last . Android shoves a bunch of software in a cheap plastic phone and gives you some Insignificant feature that the iphone doesnt have ..then uses that as ammunition to make ads like that of the samsung gallaxy s3 . Remember every smart phone out there is pretty much just riding on the coat tails of apple and their iphone .

  12. Strpl2 says

    Well idk what this guys talking about ! Where I live and travel verizon has the best coverage hands down !!!!! At&t is still running edge 2g in a lot of our rural areas ‘

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