Samsung Galaxy Note 2: AT&T to Verizon – Which U.S. Carrier is Best?

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 finally touched down in the United States ahead of its official launch event in New York City as T-Mobile became the first American carrier to launch the device. In the coming days though, the 5.5-inch smartphone will arrive in four other carriers including AT&T, Sprint, U.S. Cellular and Verizon leaving consumers with a host of options.

Like the Galaxy S III, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 will be taking its talents to all five major U.S. carriers. And and depending on your needs, one of these carriers might be a better place to buy the Galaxy Note 2.

All five carriers will feature a device that sports a large 5.5-inch HD display, quad-core processor, 8MP rear camera and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, but that doesn’t mean the carriers are all created equal. In fact, each as its differences for better and for worse.

Read: 8 Ways the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Beats the iPhone 5.

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The Galaxy Note 2 is available on five U.S. carriers.

Samsung will be selling the Galaxy Note 2 for Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular but users will need to pick which carrier they want to use before buying the Galaxy Note 2 because it’s difficult to switch carriers once the purchase has been made.

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Read: Samsung Galaxy Note 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy S III.

Here, we take a look at reasons why or why you might not want to buy the Galaxy Note 2 on a specific U.S. carrier.

Why You Want a Verizon Galaxy Note 2

First, we’ll start with the maybe the most compelling of the Galaxy Note 2 variants, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 for Verizon. For those that are unaware, Verizon did not release the original Galaxy Note despite pleas from its customers which included a fairly lengthy petition that apparently fell on deaf ears.

Read: Verizon Galaxy Note 2 Release Date Likely Coming in November.

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The Verizon Galaxy Note 2.

This time around, Verizon is not passing the Galaxy Note up and it will be releasing the Galaxy Note 2 on its network, much to the delight of Android enthusiasts and those looking to pick up a new Verizon smartphone.

Those looking to pick up the Verizon Galaxy Note 2 might want to do so for the following reasons.

Verizon currently boasts the largest 4G LTE network in the United States. In fact, it’s not even a contest. Verizon currently sports over 400 4G LTE market in the U.S. which means that this is a device that those in both rural and metropolitan areas should be looking at. Below, you can see a coverage map for Verizon’s 4G LTE network, a network that offers insanely fast data speeds, and one that the Galaxy Note of course sports.

Another reason to consider Verizon is its great customer service which time and time again is voted among the best amongst U.S. mobile carriers. The carrier also is heralded for its network which not only provides high quality data services, but voice as well.

Below, is a video showing off how fast Verizon’s 4G LTE network is compared to AT&T’s, on the iPhone 5.

In fact, Verizon boasts not only the highest network quality rating but also the highest customer service ratings for a carrier from J.D. Power and Associates.

Those who are already grandfathered into Verizon’s unlimited data plans might also want to think about staying with Verizon to get a Galaxy Note 2. That’s because Verizon allows unlimited users to upgrade and remain unlimited should the device be bought off-contract. It’s a steep price to pay, but it also affords users the best 4G LTE network with unlimited data.

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Verizon 4G LTE coverage map.

New customers and first time smartphone buyers will need to sign up for a Share Everything Data plan on Verizon that shares the data package with all users and also offers unlimited voice and texting.

Verizon iPhone 5 Plans

All of these Mobile Share plans are available to new and existing customers. Those who are existing customers on Verizon can keep their old plans.

  • Lowest Price: $80.00/month ($1,920 over 2 years) – Unlimited talk and text, 300MB data.
  • Highest Price: $190/month ($4560 over 2 years) – Unlimited talk and text, 20GB data.

Verizon will charge $15 per 1GB that users go over their data limit.

Why You Want a AT&T Galaxy Note 2

AT&T, which was the original carrier of the 5.3-inch Galaxy Note, will also be launching the Galaxy Note 2. It will begin taking pre-orders for the device tomorrow and it will release the Galaxy Note 2 on November 9th. Like the Verizon Galaxy Note 2, the AT&T Galaxy Note 2 has some features that will be attractive to many customers looking for a new smartphone.

Like the original Galaxy Note, the Galaxy Note 2 will run on AT&T’s 4G LTE network. While AT&T’s 4G LTE network isn’t as large as Verizon’s, it’s still the second largest and checks in just under 100 markets across the country. Many of those 100 markets are found in metropolitan cities which makes AT&T a good choice for those that live in cities like San Francisco and New York.

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The AT&T Galaxy Note 2.

Those who are already on AT&T, grandfathered into an unlimited data contract, will likely want to take a close look at the AT&T Galaxy Note 2. That’s because AT&T will allow those buying a device like the Galaxy Note 2 to keep that plan without having to pay the device’s unsubsidized price. That means that those with an unlimited plan can upgrade to the Galaxy Note 2 just by paying $299.99.

Another feature of AT&T that should make it an attractive option to prospective Galaxy Note 2 buyers is the fact that AT&T doesn’t force new customers into its shared data plans like Verizon does. While AT&T’s Mobile Share plans offer cheaper plans for multiple line families, new customers don’t need to choose a shared plan.

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AT&T 4G LTE markets.

Finally, a nice perk that the AT&T Galaxy Note 2 offers is the fact that it runs on both of AT&T’s 4G networks. That means that while it runs on 4G LTE, it will run on HSPA+ where 4G LTE isn’t available. HSPA+ is much faster than regular old 3G and 3G is where Sprint and Verizon’s Galaxy Note 2 will run should 4G LTE not be available.

AT&T iPhone 5 Plans

AT&T continues to offer rollover minutes, something not available on Sprint and Verizon.

  • Lowest price: $59.99/month ($1439.76 over 2 years) – 450 minutes, 300MB of Data and pay as you go texting.
  • Highest price: $230/month ($5,520 over 2 years) – Unlimited talk, text and 20GB of Data.

Why You Want a Sprint Galaxy Note 2

For the first time, Sprint will be carrying Samsung’s Galaxy Note and that should be an exciting prospect for those that on Sprint that have been waiting for the opportunity to run it on its 4G LTE network.

While Sprint offers the smallest 4G LTE network amongst the big three, it is available in several larger cities including Atlanta and should be in larger cities like New York City and San Francisco by March at the latest. So while it’s not the biggest, 4G LTE is available and it will be heading to more cities over the next few months.

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The Sprint Galaxy Note 2.

Maybe the biggest reason to consider Sprint however is the fact that it is the only one of the big three carriers to offer truly unlimited data for new customers. That means that new customers can snag an unlimited data plan and not have to face throttling of speeds after hitting a data limit. This means that those who are looking to consume a ton of 4G LTE data without penalty should take a close look at Sprint.

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Sprint 4G LTE markets.

4G LTE data use will catch up to some users so a fail safe like truly unlimited data is a smart idea.

Sprint iPhone 5 Plans

A little over $100 for a truly unlimited data plan is definitely something to look at for those Galaxy Note 2 customers who are new customers.

  • Lowest price: $79.99/month ($1919.76 over 2 years) 450 minutes, unlimited messaging, unlimited data.
  • Highest price: $109.99/month ($2639.76 over 2 years) Unlimited everything.

Why You Want a T-Mobile Galaxy Note 2

T-Mobile originally was supposed to carry the Samsung Galaxy Note and it did so, for a couple of weeks. Then, the carrier abruptly pulled the plug without warning and sure enough, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 for T-Mobile was announced to take the place of the original.

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The T-Mobile Galaxy Note 2.

Those who are looking for a new Galaxy Note 2 will want to consider the T-Mobile Galaxy Note 2 for a number of reasons. Firstly, those who don’t care about 4G LTE data speeds will want to take a closer look at the Galaxy Note 2 on T-Mobile. T-Mobile’s device currently doesn’t run on a 4G LTE network because T-Mobile doesn’t have one. It will, it seems, work with its network, next year.

However, it does run on an HSPA+ 42 network which is, in theory, as fast as 4G LTE. In reality, it’s not going to hit some of the speeds that 4G LTE can hit but It will work well for those that don’t feel like they need access to LTE and can survive on HSPA+.

T-Mobile also has the Galaxy Note 2 up for sale right now so customers who don’t want to or can’t wait carriers like AT&T and Verizon to release their devices will want to look into the T-Mobile Galaxy Note 2.

T-Mobile Galaxy Note 2 Plans

A little over $100 for a truly unlimited data plan is definitely something to look at for those Galaxy Note 2 customers who are new customers.

  • Lowest price: $79.99/month ($1919.76 over 2 years) 2GB of high speed data, unlimited messaging, unlimited data.
  • Highest price: $94.99/month ($2279.76 over 2 years) 5GB of high speed data, unlimited messaging, unlimited data.

Why You Want a U.S. Cellular Galaxy Note 2

U.S. Cellular, which also carried the Samsung Galaxy S III at launch, will also be carrying the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 alongside the five larger carriers. It will be releasing the Galaxy Note 2 on October 26th for $299.99 on-contract.

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The U.S. Cellular Galaxy Note 2.

U.S. Cellular’s Galaxy Note 2 is going to feature 4G LTE data speeds, unlike T-Mobile’s, which means that it will be able to pick up data speeds that can reach up to 10 times faster than 3G. U.S. Cellular’s 4G LTE network is rapidly expanding and it will become available in 58% of its current markets by the end of the year. The coverage map is small but it’s certainly worth considering for those who land in a coverage area.

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U.S. Cellular 4G LTE coverage.

The carrier also lets customers rack up Reward points that they can use in case they go over their data limits.

U.S. Cellular Galaxy Note 2 Plans

A little over $100 for a truly unlimited data plan is definitely something to look at for those Galaxy Note 2 customers who are new customers.

  • Lowest price: $67.49/month ($1619.76 over 2 years) 300MB of high speed data, unlimited messaging, unlimited data.
  • Highest price: $175.49/month ($4211.76 over 2 years) 10GB of high speed data, unlimited messaging, unlimited data.

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The Galaxy Note 2 has many pros and cons.

Why You Don’t Want a Verizon Galaxy Note 2

  • While unconfirmed, we’re fairly certain that the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 will arrive on Verizon with a locked bootloader. That means that those on Verizon will be unable to fully customize their device with Custom Android ROMs.
  • For new customers, Verizon requires signing up for a shared data plan, even for customers that don’t plan on using a bucket of data between devices.
  • Remember, to keep unlimited data, Verizon will require upgrading users to pay full price for the Galaxy Note 2, a price that is much more than the $299.99 subsidized price.
  • When 4G LTE isn’t available, Verizon’s Galaxy Note 2 will rely on CDMA 3G and not HSPA+ like the AT&T model.
  • The cheapest plan for new customers is $20 a month more than AT&T.
  • Sprint’s Unlimited data plan is available for a penny less than Verizon’s 300MB plan.
  • Home button features an annoying Verizon logo.

Why You Don’t Want a AT&T Galaxy Note 2

  • AT&T’s 4G LTE network is still growing and isn’t available in as many rural areas as Verizon’s network.
  • The carrier constantly comes in behind Verizon for Network performance and customer service, and below Sprint in some areas.
  • AT&T’s top Mobile Share plan is way more expensive than Sprint’s unlimited plan.

Why You Don’t Want a Sprint Galaxy Note 2

  • Sprint’s 4G LTE network is still tiny and won’t arrive in many areas, possibly including New York City and San Francisco, until next year. Sprint’s full 4G LTE roll out won’t be completed until 2014 while AT&T and Verizon are set to be completed in 2013.
  • Those who are using Sprint’s network will depend on 3G where 4G LTE is unavailable. And thus far, it’s unavailable in many areas.
  • Sprint’s 3G network is usually slower than others.
  • Low data users will find a better deal at AT&T.

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Why You Don’t Want a T-Mobile Galaxy Note 2

  • T-Mobile still doesn’t have a 4G LTE network and won’t until 2013. The Galaxy Note 2 apparently will run on its 4G LTE network but there is no telling how slow the roll out might be.
  • The carrier is charging a huge amount for the Galaxy Note 2 on-contract. While the others are charging $299.99 on-contract, T-Mobile is charging $370 on-contract after a $50 rebate. That’s going to be an expensive endeavor for many people.
  • T-Mobile, while it claims it offers unlimited data, does throttle users after hitting a certain data limit.

Why You Don’t Want a U.S. Cellular Galaxy Note 2

  • U.S. Cellular has an extremely small 4G LTE network that won’t be available nationwide like AT&T, Sprint or Verizon.
  • Expensive for those that want to consume a lot of data.
  

Comments

      • Tom W says

        Yes I recommend getting the Note 2 from Sprint; most of the corporate stores had them yesterday and if you were lucky you could get one. I am a current customer of Sprint and no problems with Sprint at all. The Note 2 is a beast of a phone; it so much better than my EVO and way much better when I had an Iphone. I am still getting use to all the new features.

        • tony says

          Im a sprint customer for 2 yrs and i have to be honest iv’e never been happy with sprint 3g non existent barely can load Google home page. 4g wi max is very spotty i live in orlando and there’s no 4g lte yet and no date. Signal is sketchy also. Customer service is bad. Im sorry if i sound negitive about sprint but im being honest sprint needs to focus on their service and what customers expect from Sprint.

    • morolina says

      is it really slow because i have the lte evo n without wifi i live in chicago the lte have not came yet n my phone is slow

  1. cybermom says

    You forgot to say that AT&T allows you to talk and use data at the same time. I often will look something up while I am talking on the phone. Also AT&T has the largest 4G HSPA+ and LTE network while also growing WiFi hotspots where traffic is heavy. I can’t wait to ditch my iPhone 4 and get my hands on the Note 2.

    • Joe Jack says

      In case it’s not obvious to everyone, if you’re using wifi (at home, office, coffee shop, etc) you can talk and surf at the same time regardless of your provider.

  2. Riley says

    It’s nice that there is the option to get the Galaxy Note from any carrier, but I am sticking with T-Mobile since they are the only carrier to offer unlimited data with actual speed. In many cases, the 4G on my current phone is faster than the LTE phone that one of my DISH coworkers has. We use the DISH Remote Access app on our phones to stream live and recorded shows through the Sling Adapter that we have on our home receivers. With how much his phone buffers, it hardly seems worth paying extra for LTE. It will be nice being able to stream as much as I want without hitting a cap which makes no sense on a smartphone.

    • Joe Jack says

      I’m leaning towards keeping TMo as well, but for a different reason: if you’re on a wifi network, TMo will use that for making a call if your cell signal is weak. Which it is when I’m at work, and at home, for all carriers. Great fun when the internet goes out and I have to call Comcast!

    • Galaxy Tech says

      Well technically its Sprint who has TRULY unlimited data because its actually is unlimited. Unlike T-Mobile and the other carriers really. T-Mobile is second on that list.

  3. David1116801 says

    Great review, Thanks! Your forgot to say why would anyone also my consider an European version! I was wondering if there is any benefit?
    Great job though!

  4. Joe says

    I pre-ordered with Verizon this morning. Ship date was last week of November. They only have 16gb internal memory units with the slot to add up to 64gb sd card. They also had the clear or security screen protectors and 2 cases to choose from, the case with the flap over the face and the rubberized one with an open face and kickstand on the back, which I got. I figure I needed the protection from drops while get used to trying to use it with one hand. By the way, I have several lines on my family plan and I also have a grandfathered unlimited data plan for only my line. The rep said it was ok to use one of my other lines upgrades to buy it and get the $299 price, but when it comes in, activate it instead on my line with the unlimited data. The line I ordered it on doesn’t even have a data plan. She explained it didn’t need to as long as I never activated on the line whose upgrade it was purchased on. In essence, order it for one line, but activate it on the unlimited data line. I’ve stopped letting my kids have their upgrades in the last couple of years. Instead, when they need a phone I go on amazon and get them a nice used phone in like new condition with a slide out keyboard for about $39. I always get a new battery for less than $5. I have six kids so I always by the same kind of used phone and keep a couple locked in a drawer waiting for the next lost, broken whatever phone issue. They know what I’m going to replace their phone with is the same as they have, so it keeps them from destroying them on purpose looking for an upgrade. I’ve told them data plans, picture texting and new phones are only for people who pay for them themselves. Seems to work. Now I always have an upgrade when I need it.

    • Keith says

      Hey Joe – Thanks for the details. Where were you able to pre-order with Verizon? (in a store, or online)

    • Lipo says

      Great advice for parents I have a daughter she is 15 i just order her an iphone 5 with only 2 GB of data i have unlimited but If i order this galaxy not I will go under 2 GB so I dont know what is best for me stay with my galaxy nexus and wait on craigslist

  5. Trinidad L says

    False information about T-Mobile. They actually have truly unlimited that came out last month. It does not throttle you even after a certain data limit because there is no limit. It is $89.99 for unlimited talk,text, data. Again they will not throttle it if you get the correct plan. Call and verify yourself about truly unlimited. Though T-Mobile prices their devices to high better to buy it from an outside non-corporate T-Mobile re-seller.

    • jonathan says

      I looked at that also, and also notice the price off set of the phones. I thank it would have been great if I didnt have 3 phones on my sprint account…..lol like $700 in cancel ling fees

  6. Alison Chazal says

    Since I started with my online business I earn $62 every 15 minutes. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it out. Fox70.comCHECK IT OUT

  7. jonathan says

    Its not svdo like all other SPRINT LTE that allows you too talk and surf at the same time on. But when in lte city with sprint it will be for the not also.

  8. Eric Hall says

    I bought my sgn 2 on t mobile. I have the unlimited data, text, talk. The data speed is almost as fast as lte. Im able to make phone calls on wifi when available. It comes with 16 gigs of internal storage. It can be upgraded up to 32 gigs more. I was disappointed about. My bill after taxes is 77.98. When I was with sprint my bill was almost 138.00 for same plan. With hotspot, it was 168.00 because I was grandfathered in with 5 gig hot spot for 30.00. Once I uograded the phone with sprint, that plan would no longer be available.

  9. Alexander Torres says

    I have a slingbox, netflix and comcast app.as far as data which carrier should i get? I know sprint is unlimited but slower1 is it going to buffer?

    • tony says

      Yes almost always. go with any one else sprint falls in last place for data in my opinion.

  10. Imam says

    The mimimum t-mobile plan is not 79.99 but rather 59.99 which gives 500 whenever minutes (+ free weekend, weeknight and t-mobile to tmobile) along with unlimited data which is throtled after 2gb. Agreed that the t-mobile price is 70$ more than others but the difference is quickly made up in 7month as its plan are cheaper than others. Also in many cities t-mobile hspa+ is slighly less or equal to att lte. I always have 15mbps dl by it in phoenix, so its not that bad for its price.

  11. Ben Nielsen says

    My note 2 in Provo, Ut gets 35-45 mb downloads and 20 mb uploads on the brand new lte network here!

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