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Mobile Carriers With the Best Cell Phone Service in 2023

So, you’re looking for a mobile carrier.

Maybe you’ve just gotten a new iPhone and can’t wait to iMessage on the go, pay for drinks with Apple Pay, or explore your city with Pokémon Go. Whatever you plan on using your smartphone for, if you don’t have Wifi, you will need cellular data to do it. This means you need to choose a mobile carrier.

Find the Best Plan Options

What Is a Mobile Carrier?

A Mobile Carrier, also known as an MNO or mobile network operator, is a company that provides you with wireless voice and data communication. Examples of mobile carriers are

  • Verizon
  • T-Mobile
  • AT&T.

These carriers are known as the “Big Three,” because they are the three most popular in the United States.

Read on to learn about the Big Three’s coverage and see if one is right for you.

Looking for a new mobile plan or carrier can take a lot of work. Once you select a carrier, choose the right cell phone plan. There are millions of options.

What if you could find the perfect phone or phone plan instantly? You can.

Use our Find a Phone and Find a Phone Plan navigators to learn the right device and network. Also, visit our Resources page for information on everything cellular.

What Are Some Key Terms Relating to Cell Phone Service?

Before diving into the Big Three, let’s get some definitions out of the way.

What Is 4G?

4G, or 4th generation, service is 100 times faster than 3G. It is the most common type of cellular network. You can use 4G service to message people, access social media, and do anything on your phone that requires internet access.

What Is 5G?

5G is the 5th generation of cellular data and comes with three upgrades:

  1. Speed

5G speeds are faster than 4G.

  1. Bandwidth

5G networks can handle more devices than 4G.

  1. Latency

5G has faster loading speeds.

Click here to learn more about 5G, how 5G works, and the future of 5G.

What Kind of Coverage Is Offered By the Big Three?

The big three major carriers (Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T) offer varying levels of 4G LTE and 5G network coverage in the United States:

5G Coverage

  1. T-Mobile: 53% coverage
  2. AT&T: 29% coverage
  3. Verizon: 12% coverage

4G Coverage

  1. Verizon: 70% coverage
  2. AT&T: 68% coverage
  3. T-Mobile: 62% coverage

Also, the Big Three offer a variety of plan types. If choosing one sounds complicated, use our Find a Phone Plan navigator.

What Cellular Carrier Has the Best Coverage?

This depends on what you are looking for. If 5G is your thing, consider T-Mobile, which leads the Big Three at 53% nationwide 5G coverage. If you’re fine with 4G, Verizon could be for you since they cover 70% of America.

Verizon

Verizon offers both 4G LTE and 5G Coverage. Their urban coverage is strong, while their rural area coverage is less strong but still good.

4G LTE

Verizon’s 4G LTE network covers 70% of America.

5G

Verizon’s 5G Network covers 11% of the nation, though it works at Mid-Band and High-Band.

Speeds are typically faster than other carriers (T-Mobile, for example, works at lower band speeds).

Visit Verizon’s coverage map to see more.

What Plans Does Verizon Have?

Verizon offers prepaid and unlimited data plans.

What Is the Cheapest Verizon Plan?

Verizon’s most cost-effective unlimited option is their Unlimited Welcome plan, which, at $65 a month for one line with autopay, comes with unlimited data and a Walmart+ membership.

What Is the Best Overall Verizon Plan?

Verizon’s Unlimited Plus plan, $65 a month for one line with autopay, comes with the following:

  • Unlimited 5G ultra-wideband data
  • 30 GB Premium Mobile Hotspot data

With Verizon’s Myplan feature, for $10 extra a month, you can add on the following:

  • 100 GB Mobile Hotspot
  • Disney Bundle
  • AppleOne
  • Apple Music Family
  • Smartwatch Data
  • +play Monthly Credit
  • 3 Travelpass days
  • 2 TB Cloud storage.

Additionally, you can change perks anytime.

Does Verizon Have Deals?

New customers can get a new iPhone 14 Pro Max with select trade-ins and an Unlimited Plus plan. Also, new customers can get a Samsung Galaxy S23+ and $200 with select trade-ins and Unlimited Plus. Monitor the Verizon website for the most up-to-date deals.

Do you need help choosing a phone or phone plan? We’ve got you covered with our Find a Phone and Find a Phone Plan navigators to find the best phones and the best cell phone plans for you.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile offers both 4G-LTE and 5G coverage.

4G LTE

T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network covers 62% of the USA. Its signal is strongest in really populated areas.

5G

T-Mobile’s Network covers 41% of the USA, making them the strongest among the Big Three.

T-Mobile uses the low-band infrastructure for its 5G network, making it more reliable coverage-wise (though speeds are slower than the mid-band and high-band networks used by AT&T and Verizon). However, T-Mobile’s 5G speeds are improving because of the recent T-Mobile and Sprint Merger. For more, visit their 5G and 4G Coverage Maps.

T-Mobile plans include unlimited talk, text, data, 5G access, and no annual contracts. T-Mobile also offers discounts for seniors, veterans, and first responders. Check out our Find a Phone Plan Navigator to see if T-Mobile is right for you.

What Is the Cheapest T-Mobile Unlimited Plan?

T-Mobile’s cheapest unlimited plan is their Essentials plan, which, at $60 a month for one line with autopay, comes with the following:

  • Unlimited data, talk, and text
  • Scam-blocking protection
  • T-Mobile Tuesday extra perks
  • 50 GB premium data
  • Unlimited 3G mobile hotspot data.

What Is the Best T-Mobile Unlimited Plan?

T-Mobile’s most high-end plan is Magenta Max. At $85 a month for one line with autopay, you get

  • Unlimited premium data
  • A 1 screen Netflix subscription
  • Apple TV+
  • A 40GB high-speed mobile hotspot.
  • Unlimited Text and up to 5GB high-speed data in 215+ countries.

Does T-Mobile Have Deals?

Currently, T-Mobile offers an iPhone 14 or Samsung Galaxy s23 when an eligible device is traded in on their Go5G Plus plan. Customers could also get a free Motorola razr+ if they add a line or trade in a device on a Go5G Plus or Magenta MAX Plan.

Visit our website to find the best phone and phone plan for you.

AT&T

4G LTE

AT&T’s Network covers 68% of America.

5G

AT&T 5G reaches 41% of America.

Click here to check their coverage map.

AT&T offers a variety of unlimited data and prepaid data plans. Every AT&T unlimited plan comes with unlimited talk, text, and data in and between America, Canada, and Mexico, 5G Access, AT&T Active Armor Mobile Security, and unlimited texting from the US to over 200 countries.

What Is the Cheapest AT&T Unlimited Plan?

The cheapest AT&T unlimited plan is their Unlimited Starter Plan, which is $65 a month with autopay enabled for one line. This plan comes with the following:

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • 3GB hotspot data per month
  • Standard Definition streaming
  • AT&T Active Armor Mobile Security, a feature that helps block spam calls.

What Is the Best AT&T Plan?

The AT&T plan with the most perks is their Unlimited Premium Plan, a plan price of $85 a month for one line with autopay, which comes with:

  • Unlimited premium talk, text, and high-speed data
  • 50 GB Hotspot data per line per month
  • Unlimited talk, text, and high-speed data in 19 Latin American countries, including Mexico.
  • 4K UHD video streaming

Does AT&T Have Deals?

AT&T offers any Google Pixel starting at $2 a month with no trade-in required, an iPhone 14 Pro Max for up to $1,000 off with a trade-in, a Google Pixel 7a with no trade-in, and more.

How Can I Save on Phone Coverage?

The Big Three cell phone providers offer family plan options, meaning you can bundle lines to save money.

You can also consider using a prepaid plan, where you only pay for the amount of data you use per month. This helps to prevent overages. For example, AT&T offers a three-month plan where, for $99 in advance, you get unlimited talk, text, and 8GB of data a month for three months.

If you want to save even more money, consider using an MVNO or Mobile Virtual Network Operator.

What Is an MVNO?

An MVNO is a smaller service provider that uses the network of a more extensive provider. MVNOs usually have more affordable plans than the major carriers but provide a similar level of coverage, making them an excellent option for those looking to save money.

Examples of MVNOs include:

  • Mint Mobile
  • Xfinity Mobile
  • Spectrum Mobile
  • Metro by T-Mobile
  • Google Fi
  • UScellular
  • Boost Mobile

For more information on MVNOs and other carriers, visit our resources page.

Conclusion

Apple or Android? MNO or MVNO? Should you buy a new phone or use your own phone? What about SIM cards? Do you want a plan that comes with a streaming service? What about international calling? The world of cell phone carriers can be a confusing jungle.

We will lead you through. Go to our website for the top picks of wireless carriers, plans, and mobile phones.

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