Steve Jobs’ final legacy from the Apple headquarters is right around the corner. The iPhone 4S release date for many of the approximately 70 carriers around 100 countries is going to be October 14, with pre-orders beginning all the way back since October 7. The Apple iPhone 4S, an improved version of the already existing iPhone 4 and running the all new iOS 5, will be available to a larger public since Apple made deals with more network operators than ever before. In the United States for instance, beside the usual AT&T and Verizon, the fifth generation of the iPhone can now be purchased through Sprint as well. So the big question remains: Which one of the three major US carriers should you choose? Which one holds the best data plans and which one is the most affordable?
Due to the fact that the iPhone 4S has the same specs for each and every carrier, and its standard price is also the same ($199.99 for the 16 GB model, $299.99 for the 32 GB model and $399.99 for the 64 GB model), the main factors that should come into consideration are the prices for various voice, text and data plans, the speeds, the network coverage and other simple yet decisive matters.
First of all, if you really care about the money that you’re going to spend each month on your iPhone 4S contract, you should consider choosing Sprint as your operator, since they tend to have the best price-offer deals. First and foremost, Sprint is the only carrier that has an unlimited data plan set in motion for the iPhone 4S. But then again, Sprint’s voice plans are indeed slightly more expensive than AT&T’s or Verizon’s. For instance, a 450 minutes voice plan will set you back $69.99 at Sprint, while AT&T and Verizon charge only $59.99. An unlimited voice plan is also $10 cheaper at AT&T and Verizon than Sprint’s $99.99 monthly bill.
On the other hand, at Sprint you’ll find an amazingly cheaper and better data plan. For just $10 per month, you’ll get unlimited data, while AT&T will charge $55 for 5 GB of data and Verizon $50. Still, Sprint makes up in charging an extra $29.99 for a mobile hotspot, while at AT&T and Verizon it’s included for any 4 GB or above plan. The bottom line is that with Sprint you can end up saving up to $250 on a two-year contract.
If money isn’t an issue for you, than maybe the next important factor that you should take into consideration is the speed. The maximum theoretical download speed for the iPhone 4S is 14.4 Mbps and the closest you’ll get to that speed is via AT&T’s GSM network. Since AT&T is the only GSM carrier of the major three, it should support faster 3G download speeds, and also simultaneous talking and Internet access. According to PCWorld, the average down speed for AT&T is 1410 kbps, while Verizon and Sprint’s couldn’t rise above 877 kbps or 795 kbps respectively. Although PCWorld’s study is pretty outdated, AT&T is still the front runner in the speed race.
But what’s the point of having a fast smartphone if you can’t actually make use of the provided speed. AT&T seems to have some difficulties on this particular area, being known for its dead zones and dropped calls. This is where Verizon stands out between the three, having the largest coverage on its 3G network. However, things are always in motion when talking about network reliability and all three carriers are constantly expanding their coverage areas.
All in all, whether you choose the good ol’ AT&T, America’s largest carrier – Verizon aka the Big Red, or Apple’s latest partner – Sprint, it’s up to you and what you value the most. If you value your money or you are in desperate need of an unlimited data plan, then we advise considering Sprint; if you value the speed more than anything else or you simply like talking while surfing the web, then AT&T is definitely your best choice; but then again, if you’re looking for the most secure and reliable network, Verizon is probably the way to go.