Everyone loves a good rivalry — just look at Coke vs Pepsi or PlayStation vs Xbox. If you’re looking for your next mobile carrier, there’s one rivalry that stands above them all, however: Big Blue vs Big Red. Verizon and AT&T are America’s two largest networks, so it only makes sense that they might be the first two that come to mind. You may be struggling to choose one over the other, so we’re going to pit AT&T vs Verizon to help you pick.
It’s not enough to look at plans, prices, or simply a selection of phones. We’re going to go category by category and get to the roots of each carrier. Ready to choose your next carrier? Let’s dig in!
It’s no secret that Verizon is just about the most expensive carrier on the market. On average, you’ll pay about $5 more per line for Verizon’s service, especially for higher-level unlimited plans. The easiest way to stack the prices against each other is with our handy table below:
As you can see, the entry-level unlimited plans are essentially a wash. As soon as you hit two or more lines, you’ll pay exactly the same price. However, both the Play More and Do More plans from Verizon are more expensive than AT&T’s Unlimited Extra plan. The premium network access is identical from both carriers at 50GB, as is the included 5G access. Both carriers also offer 15GB of hotspot on their mid-level unlimited plans.
The only way to set the two apart is the added perks that come with your plan. We’ll touch on those a bit later when we dive into the promotions available for AT&T and Verizon.
If you’re going to splurge on a high-end service plan, the choice doesn’t get any easier. Verizon still reigns supreme in terms of perks, though Unlimited Elite adds HBO Max to the mix. Both plans also include 30GB of mobile hotspot per line. AT&T, however, outdoes Big Red in terms of premium data, offering 100GB instead of 50GB.
Of course, you can save some money and access either carrier through an MVNO. There are a few tradeoffs to consider, but here are some options to look into:
Both carriers can claim to have the largest coverage area in the United States — but it depends on what network you’re looking for. AT&T boasts the nation’s largest 3G network, while Verizon is leading in 4G LTE coverage. This means that you’ll likely manage faster overall speeds with Verizon, though the widespread 3G network is a vital backup in areas where 4G LTE is unavailable.
If you turn your attention to each carrier’s 5G access, you’ll find that speed and availability is once again the name of the game. Verizon employs a high-speed mmWave network for its 5G coverage, which is lightning fast but offers a limited range. AT&T, on the other hand, relies on a low-band network that stretches across far more of the country, even if it doesn’t reach the same speeds.
You have a look at AT&T’s coverage map below and immediately see where its 4G LTE and 5G access are available, but it’s a bit trickier with Verizon. The limited range of its 5G network means that you’ll essentially have to go street-by-street for connectivity. Luckily, Verizon has an interactive map that you can check out right here.
Network access is only part of the battle when choosing a new mobile carrier — a great plan isn’t complete without some solid perks and promos. If you’re set on streaming options, Verizon offers a clear advantage. Here’s a quick table to show you what each carrier offers:
Each of its unlimited plans includes a Disney Plus membership, with the Play More and Get More options adding Hulu and ESPN Plus to the mix. Beyond video streaming, Verizon offers six months of Apple Music on its Start Unlimited, Play More, and Do More plans. If you splurge on the Get More plan, you’ll get Apple Music for the life of your plan.
Over at AT&T, you’ll have to go for the costly Unlimited Elite plan if you want a streaming bonus. The top-tier option includes an HBO Max subscription for all of your Friends, Game of Thrones, and Curb Your Enthusiasm needs.
Both carriers offer a pretty solid selection of promos, though you’ll mainly be saving on new devices rather than plans. For example, right now you can get up to $1,000 off a second Samsung Galaxy Note 20 on Verizon when you buy another Note 20 on a new line of service. Alternatively, many of Verizon’s phones like the new LG Velvet are available for as little as $10 per month when you switch.
Many of AT&T’s deals are dedicated to chopping 50% or more off the price of a new iPhone when you switch and add a line. As an incentive to switch, you can also grab a new Samsung Galaxy Note 20 for free — although the savings come in the form of bill credits over 24 months.
Carrier-exclusive phones aren’t what they once were. Many of the main US carriers offer nearly identical lists of devices, and sometimes the only difference is whether the phone relies on GSM or CDMA. AT&T and Verizon are no exceptions to this rule, but Big Red offers a good variety of Motorola phones exclusively.
You could say that Verizon gets the edge in this category — pun intended — thanks to the availability of the Motorola Edge Plus and the folding Razr. Of course, AT&T will allow you to preorder Microsoft’s Surface Duo, so it’s not without options of its own.
As we mentioned before, the GSM and CDMA divide is one of the main differences between AT&T and Verizon. Big Red falls on the CDMA side, while AT&T holds down the GSM camp. GSM is the newer technology, and it’s much more widely-used than CDMA, which can be great if you travel abroad often.
Finally, the million-dollar question in the battle of AT&T vs Verizon — which one is right for you? The short answer is that it depends. If you have a decent budget and you want the largest 4G LTE network, go for Verizon. You might also turn to Big Red if you have an affinity for Motorola phones like the Razr. However, if you want better flexibility to switch devices, or you want wide-reaching 5G access, then AT&T is the right pick.
Ultimately, we can’t tell you which network to pick — and maybe neither one is the right option. If that’s the case, you might want to take a peek at a few of our other carrier guides for more options:
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