Now that the iPhone 4S is available on Sprint, Apple fans finally have three carriers to chose amongst. But which carrier has the best network? And which has the best contracts? And who has the most restrictive small print included in their contracts? Well, we're here to help: By analyzing data from over 46,600 speed tests recently submitted by our users and exhaustively researching the various service plans each carrier is offering, we've put together the ultimate iPhone buyers guide that should answer even the most inquisitive consumer's every question.

So, which carrier's iPhone is the fastest?

With that in mind, onto the results. To create the map below, we took the most recent speed test data submitted by our users and filtered the data by technology to match the iPhone 4S's wireless chipset. According to our results, AT&T will have the fastest connection speeds in 31 states, Verizon in 6 states. Unfortunately Sprint didn't win in any state, and in 11 states we didn't have enough data for a reliable result.

This doesn't mean that AT&T has the fastest network.

Before we go on, it's really important to note that we're not comparing the carrier's networks in the map above, we're comparing how the iPhone 4S will perform on each carrier.

What's the difference? Well, the iPhone 4S is a dual-mode phone that supports AT&T's 3G network, which uses HSPA technology, and Verizon and Sprint's 3G network, which runs on EVDO. AT&T has recently upgraded their existing HSPA network to HSPA+, which offers almost double the speed of their original 3G network, and the iPhone 4S supports this newly upgraded technology. Verizon and Sprint aren't actually far behind: have both rolled out next-generation 4G networks, and Verizon's LTE network in particular was blazing fast in our recent testing. But since the iPhone 4S doesn't support those networks, they're not included in our analysis. To understand the difference that the HSDPA enabled chipset used in the iPhone 4S makes, take a look at the graph to the right.

Which carrier has the best service plan?

The different carrier's have quite different contracts. While we were compiling our own list, Engadget compiled a really great set of tables describing the different options available. As they noted, AT&T have the cheapest contract offering, with a $55 plan for 450 minutes of talk time, 200MB of data and no hotspot or SMS usage included. However, the best value comes from Sprint with their unlimited plan, which for $99 includes unlimited voice, data, hotspot usage and SMS.

Compare the different plans using our service plan comparison tool below. You'll also notice that we've included the average download and upload speeds of each carrier across the country - bonus!

Reset Filters:

Network

Model

Minutes

SMS

Data

Storage

Model Storage Network Mins SMS Data DL Speed (Mbps) UL Speed (Mbps) Ping Hotspot World Phone? Monthly Price Phone Price
48GBaAT&T450None200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$54.99$99
48GBaAT&T450Unlimited200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$74.99$99
48GBaAT&T450None2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$64.99$99
48GBaAT&T450Unlimited2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$84.99$99
48GBaAT&T450None4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$84.99$99
48GBaAT&T450Unlimited4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$104.99$99
48GBaAT&T900None200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$74.99$99
48GBaAT&T900Unlimited200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$94.99$99
48GBaAT&T900None2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$84.99$99
48GBaAT&T900Unlimited2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$104.99$99
48GBaAT&T900None4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$104.99$99
48GBaAT&T900Unlimited4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$124.99$99
48GBaAT&TUnlimitedNone200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$84.99$99
48GBaAT&TUnlimitedUnlimited200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$104.99$99
48GBaAT&TUnlimitedNone2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$94.99$99
48GBaAT&TUnlimitedUnlimited2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$114.99$99
48GBaAT&TUnlimitedNone4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$114.99$99
48GBaAT&TUnlimitedUnlimited4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$134.99$99
3GS8GBaAT&T450None200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$54.99$0
3GS8GBaAT&T450Unlimited200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$74.99$0
3GS8GBaAT&T450None2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$64.99$0
3GS8GBaAT&T450Unlimited2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$84.99$0
3GS8GBaAT&T450None4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$84.99$0
3GS8GBaAT&T450Unlimited4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$104.99$0
3GS8GBaAT&T900None200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$74.99$0
3GS8GBaAT&T900Unlimited200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$94.99$0
3GS8GBaAT&T900None2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$84.99$0
3GS8GBaAT&T900Unlimited2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$104.99$0
3GS8GBaAT&T900None4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$104.99$0
3GS8GBaAT&T900Unlimited4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$124.99$0
3GS8GBaAT&TUnlimitedNone200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$84.99$0
3GS8GBaAT&TUnlimitedUnlimited200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$104.99$0
3GS8GBaAT&TUnlimitedNone2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$94.99$0
3GS8GBaAT&TUnlimitedUnlimited2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$114.99$0
3GS8GBaAT&TUnlimitedNone4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$114.99$0
3GS8GBaAT&TUnlimitedUnlimited4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$134.99$0
4S16GBaAT&T450None200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$54.99$199
4S16GBaAT&T450Unlimited200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$74.99$199
4S16GBaAT&T450None2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$64.99$199
4S16GBaAT&T450Unlimited2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$84.99$199
4S16GBaAT&T450None4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$84.99$199
4S16GBaAT&T450Unlimited4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$104.99$199
4S16GBaAT&T900None200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$74.99$199
4S16GBaAT&T900Unlimited200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$94.99$199
4S16GBaAT&T900None2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$84.99$199
4S16GBaAT&T900Unlimited2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$104.99$199
4S16GBaAT&T900None4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$104.99$199
4S16GBaAT&T900Unlimited4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$124.99$199
4S16GBaAT&TUnlimitedNone200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$84.99$199
4S16GBaAT&TUnlimitedUnlimited200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$104.99$199
4S16GBaAT&TUnlimitedNone2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$94.99$199
4S16GBaAT&TUnlimitedUnlimited2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$114.99$199
4S16GBaAT&TUnlimitedNone4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$114.99$199
4S16GBaAT&TUnlimitedUnlimited4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$134.99$199
4S32GBaAT&T450None200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$54.99$299
4S32GBaAT&T450Unlimited200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$74.99$299
4S32GBaAT&T450None2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$64.99$299
4S32GBaAT&T450Unlimited2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$84.99$299
4S32GBaAT&T450None4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$84.99$299
4S32GBaAT&T450Unlimited4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$104.99$299
4S32GBaAT&T900None200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$74.99$299
4S32GBaAT&T900Unlimited200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$94.99$299
4S32GBaAT&T900None2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$84.99$299
4S32GBaAT&T900Unlimited2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$104.99$299
4S32GBaAT&T900None4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$104.99$299
4S32GBaAT&T900Unlimited4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$124.99$299
4S32GBaAT&TUnlimitedNone200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$84.99$299
4S32GBaAT&TUnlimitedUnlimited200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$104.99$299
4S32GBaAT&TUnlimitedNone2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$94.99$299
4S32GBaAT&TUnlimitedUnlimited2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$114.99$299
4S32GBaAT&TUnlimitedNone4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$114.99$299
4S32GBaAT&TUnlimitedUnlimited4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$134.99$299
4S64GBaAT&T450None200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$54.99$399
4S64GBaAT&T450Unlimited200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$74.99$399
4S64GBaAT&T450None2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$64.99$399
4S64GBaAT&T450Unlimited2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$84.99$399
4S64GBaAT&T450None4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$84.99$399
4S64GBaAT&T450Unlimited4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$104.99$399
4S64GBaAT&T900None200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$74.99$399
4S64GBaAT&T900Unlimited200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$94.99$399
4S64GBaAT&T900None2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$84.99$399
4S64GBaAT&T900Unlimited2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$104.99$399
4S64GBaAT&T900None4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$104.99$399
4S64GBaAT&T900Unlimited4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$124.99$399
4S64GBaAT&TUnlimitedNone200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$84.99$399
4S64GBaAT&TUnlimitedUnlimited200MB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$104.99$399
4S64GBaAT&TUnlimitedNone2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$94.99$399
4S64GBaAT&TUnlimitedUnlimited2GB1.40.3426msNot AvailableYes$114.99$399
4S64GBaAT&TUnlimitedNone4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$114.99$399
4S64GBaAT&TUnlimitedUnlimited4GB1.40.3426msYesYes$134.99$399
48GBvVerizon450None2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$69.99$99
48GBvVerizon4502502GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$74.99$99
48GBvVerizon4505002GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$79.99$99
48GBvVerizon450Unlimited2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$89.99$99
48GBvVerizon450None5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$89.99$99
48GBvVerizon4502505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$94.99$99
48GBvVerizon4505005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$99.99$99
48GBvVerizon450Unlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$109.99$99
48GBvVerizon450None5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$119.99$99
48GBvVerizon4502505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$124.99$99
48GBvVerizon4505005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$129.99$99
48GBvVerizon450Unlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$139.99$99
48GBvVerizon900None2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$89.99$99
48GBvVerizon9002502GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$94.99$99
48GBvVerizon9005002GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$99.99$99
48GBvVerizon900Unlimited2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$109.99$99
48GBvVerizon900None5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$109.99$99
48GBvVerizon9002505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$114.99$99
48GBvVerizon9005005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$119.99$99
48GBvVerizon900Unlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$129.99$99
48GBvVerizon900None5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$139.99$99
48GBvVerizon9002505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$144.99$99
48GBvVerizon9005005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$149.99$99
48GBvVerizon900Unlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$159.99$99
48GBvVerizonUnlimitedNone2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$99.99$99
48GBvVerizonUnlimited2502GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$104.99$99
48GBvVerizonUnlimited5002GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$109.99$99
48GBvVerizonUnlimitedUnlimited2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$119.99$99
48GBvVerizonUnlimitedNone5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$119.99$99
48GBvVerizonUnlimited2505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$124.99$99
48GBvVerizonUnlimited5005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$129.99$99
48GBvVerizonUnlimitedUnlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$139.99$99
48GBvVerizonUnlimitedNone5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$149.99$99
48GBvVerizonUnlimited2505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$154.99$99
48GBvVerizonUnlimited5005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$159.99$99
48GBvVerizonUnlimitedUnlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$169.99$99
3GS8GBvVerizon450None2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$69.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizon4502502GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$74.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizon4505002GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$79.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizon450Unlimited2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$89.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizon450None5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$89.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizon4502505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$94.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizon4505005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$99.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizon450Unlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$109.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizon450None5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$119.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizon4502505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$124.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizon4505005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$129.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizon450Unlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$139.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizon900None2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$89.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizon9002502GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$94.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizon9005002GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$99.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizon900Unlimited2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$109.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizon900None5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$109.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizon9002505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$114.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizon9005005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$119.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizon900Unlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$129.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizon900None5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$139.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizon9002505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$144.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizon9005005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$149.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizon900Unlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$159.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizonUnlimitedNone2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$99.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizonUnlimited2502GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$104.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizonUnlimited5002GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$109.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizonUnlimitedUnlimited2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$119.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizonUnlimitedNone5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$119.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizonUnlimited2505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$124.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizonUnlimited5005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$129.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizonUnlimitedUnlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$139.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizonUnlimitedNone5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$149.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizonUnlimited2505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$154.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizonUnlimited5005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$159.99$0
3GS8GBvVerizonUnlimitedUnlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$169.99$0
4S16GBvVerizon450None2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$69.99$199
4S16GBvVerizon4502502GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$74.99$199
4S16GBvVerizon4505002GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$79.99$199
4S16GBvVerizon450Unlimited2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$89.99$199
4S16GBvVerizon450None5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$89.99$199
4S16GBvVerizon4502505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$94.99$199
4S16GBvVerizon4505005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$99.99$199
4S16GBvVerizon450Unlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$109.99$199
4S16GBvVerizon450None5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$119.99$199
4S16GBvVerizon4502505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$124.99$199
4S16GBvVerizon4505005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$129.99$199
4S16GBvVerizon450Unlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$139.99$199
4S16GBvVerizon900None2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$89.99$199
4S16GBvVerizon9002502GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$94.99$199
4S16GBvVerizon9005002GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$99.99$199
4S16GBvVerizon900Unlimited2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$109.99$199
4S16GBvVerizon900None5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$109.99$199
4S16GBvVerizon9002505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$114.99$199
4S16GBvVerizon9005005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$119.99$199
4S16GBvVerizon900Unlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$129.99$199
4S16GBvVerizon900None5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$139.99$199
4S16GBvVerizon9002505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$144.99$199
4S16GBvVerizon9005005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$149.99$199
4S16GBvVerizon900Unlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$159.99$199
4S16GBvVerizonUnlimitedNone2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$99.99$199
4S16GBvVerizonUnlimited2502GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$104.99$199
4S16GBvVerizonUnlimited5002GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$109.99$199
4S16GBvVerizonUnlimitedUnlimited2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$119.99$199
4S16GBvVerizonUnlimitedNone5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$119.99$199
4S16GBvVerizonUnlimited2505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$124.99$199
4S16GBvVerizonUnlimited5005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$129.99$199
4S16GBvVerizonUnlimitedUnlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$139.99$199
4S16GBvVerizonUnlimitedNone5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$149.99$199
4S16GBvVerizonUnlimited2505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$154.99$199
4S16GBvVerizonUnlimited5005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$159.99$199
4S16GBvVerizonUnlimitedUnlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$169.99$199
4S32GBvVerizon450None2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$69.99$299
4S32GBvVerizon4502502GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$74.99$299
4S32GBvVerizon4505002GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$79.99$299
4S32GBvVerizon450Unlimited2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$89.99$299
4S32GBvVerizon450None5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$89.99$299
4S32GBvVerizon4502505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$94.99$299
4S32GBvVerizon4505005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$99.99$299
4S32GBvVerizon450Unlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$109.99$299
4S32GBvVerizon450None5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$119.99$299
4S32GBvVerizon4502505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$124.99$299
4S32GBvVerizon4505005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$129.99$299
4S32GBvVerizon450Unlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$139.99$299
4S32GBvVerizon900None2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$89.99$299
4S32GBvVerizon9002502GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$94.99$299
4S32GBvVerizon9005002GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$99.99$299
4S32GBvVerizon900Unlimited2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$109.99$299
4S32GBvVerizon900None5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$109.99$299
4S32GBvVerizon9002505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$114.99$299
4S32GBvVerizon9005005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$119.99$299
4S32GBvVerizon900Unlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$129.99$299
4S32GBvVerizon900None5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$139.99$299
4S32GBvVerizon9002505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$144.99$299
4S32GBvVerizon9005005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$149.99$299
4S32GBvVerizon900Unlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$159.99$299
4S32GBvVerizonUnlimitedNone2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$99.99$299
4S32GBvVerizonUnlimited2502GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$104.99$299
4S32GBvVerizonUnlimited5002GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$109.99$299
4S32GBvVerizonUnlimitedUnlimited2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$119.99$299
4S32GBvVerizonUnlimitedNone5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$119.99$299
4S32GBvVerizonUnlimited2505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$124.99$299
4S32GBvVerizonUnlimited5005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$129.99$299
4S32GBvVerizonUnlimitedUnlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$139.99$299
4S32GBvVerizonUnlimitedNone5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$149.99$299
4S32GBvVerizonUnlimited2505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$154.99$299
4S32GBvVerizonUnlimited5005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$159.99$299
4S32GBvVerizonUnlimitedUnlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$169.99$299
4S64GBvVerizon450None2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$69.99$399
4S64GBvVerizon4502502GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$74.99$399
4S64GBvVerizon4505002GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$79.99$399
4S64GBvVerizon450Unlimited2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$89.99$399
4S64GBvVerizon450None5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$89.99$399
4S64GBvVerizon4502505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$94.99$399
4S64GBvVerizon4505005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$99.99$399
4S64GBvVerizon450Unlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$109.99$399
4S64GBvVerizon450None5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$119.99$399
4S64GBvVerizon4502505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$124.99$399
4S64GBvVerizon4505005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$129.99$399
4S64GBvVerizon450Unlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$139.99$399
4S64GBvVerizon900None2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$89.99$399
4S64GBvVerizon9002502GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$94.99$399
4S64GBvVerizon9005002GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$99.99$399
4S64GBvVerizon900Unlimited2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$109.99$399
4S64GBvVerizon900None5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$109.99$399
4S64GBvVerizon9002505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$114.99$399
4S64GBvVerizon9005005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$119.99$399
4S64GBvVerizon900Unlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$129.99$399
4S64GBvVerizon900None5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$139.99$399
4S64GBvVerizon9002505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$144.99$399
4S64GBvVerizon9005005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$149.99$399
4S64GBvVerizon900Unlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$159.99$399
4S64GBvVerizonUnlimitedNone2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$99.99$399
4S64GBvVerizonUnlimited2502GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$104.99$399
4S64GBvVerizonUnlimited5002GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$109.99$399
4S64GBvVerizonUnlimitedUnlimited2GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$119.99$399
4S64GBvVerizonUnlimitedNone5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$119.99$399
4S64GBvVerizonUnlimited2505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$124.99$399
4S64GBvVerizonUnlimited5005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$129.99$399
4S64GBvVerizonUnlimitedUnlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$139.99$399
4S64GBvVerizonUnlimitedNone5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$149.99$399
4S64GBvVerizonUnlimited2505GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$154.99$399
4S64GBvVerizonUnlimited5005GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$159.99$399
4S64GBvVerizonUnlimitedUnlimited5GB0.50.3419ms+$20/moYes$169.99$399
48GBsSprint450UnlimitedUnlimited0.40.2543msYesYes$79.99$99
48GBsSprint900UnlimitedUnlimited0.40.2543msYesYes$99.99$99
48GBsSprintUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited0.40.2543msYesYes$109.99$99
3GS8GBsSprint450UnlimitedUnlimited0.40.2543msYesYes$79.99$0
3GS8GBsSprint900UnlimitedUnlimited0.40.2543msYesYes$99.99$0
3GS8GBsSprintUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited0.40.2543msYesYes$109.99$0
4S16GBsSprint450UnlimitedUnlimited0.40.2543msYesYes$79.99$199
4S16GBsSprint900UnlimitedUnlimited0.40.2543msYesYes$99.99$199
4S16GBsSprintUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited0.40.2543msYesYes$109.99$199
4S32GBsSprint450UnlimitedUnlimited0.40.2543msYesYes$79.99$299
4S32GBsSprint900UnlimitedUnlimited0.40.2543msYesYes$99.99$299
4S32GBsSprintUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited0.40.2543msYesYes$109.99$299
4S64GBsSprint450UnlimitedUnlimited0.40.2543msYesYes$79.99$399
4S64GBsSprint900UnlimitedUnlimited0.40.2543msYesYes$99.99$399
4S64GBsSprintUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited0.40.2543msYesYes$109.99$399

Other purchase considerations

Signal strength, data allowances and monthly bills are obviously very important, but there are a few other things that you should consider keep in mind before purchasing.


Resale prices

Model AT&T Verizon
iPhone 4 - 32GB $250 $201
iPhone 4 - 16GB $225 $180
iPhone 3GS - 32 GB $183 -
iPhone 3GS - 16 GB $168 -
iPhone 3GS - 08 GB $138 -

It's likely that in a year or less, Apple will release the iPhone 5 with some shiny new feature that you just must have. One of the best ways to finance the upgrade (which your carrier won't subsidize, as you'll find out below) is to sell on your old iPhone. But because of the different technologies used in the Verizon versus the AT&T version of the iPhone 4, there's been a considerable difference in the resale values of the two phones.

Take a look at the table to the right, it shows exactly how much cash ReCellular are willing to offer for a used iPhone 4 on each network. The discrepancy in prices is due to the fact that the GSM version of the iPhone 4 sold on AT&T can be unlocked and used on T-Mobile here in the US and on other networks abroad, while the CDMA version is locked to only Verizon. Fortunately, this discrepancy should no longer be an issue with the new dual-mode iPhone 4S, but the $99 iPhone 4 still uses the older chipset and is carrier specific. So customers considering buying the $99 iPhone 4 on Verizon or Sprint should beware of an implicit $50 extra cost that's associated with going with the CDMA-specific model.


Early Termination Fees

Network Early Termination Fees
AT&T $325 ETF, prorated with a reduction of $10/month.
Verizon $350 ETF, prorated with a reduction of $10/month.
Sprint $200 ETF, prorated after 5th month of contract by $10/month to a $50 minimum.

All the carriers requires that you sign up or renew a 24-month contract in order to receive the carrier-subsidized prices that you are advertised by Apple. But there's always a chance you'll need to terminate your contract early: maybe work'll force you to move abroad, or even just moving house, you might find that you need to change or terminate your contract to continue to get service. Each carrier has different early termination fees (ETFs), we've tried to summarize the different programs in this table.


Upgrade policies

Network Upgrade Policy
AT&T Fully subsidized upgrade after 20 months (dial *639# to check eligibility), plus a fee of $18. If you're within the first 20 months of your contract, early upgrades cost an extra $250 above regular subsidized pricing.
Verizon Fully subsidized upgrade after 20 months. Customers who most recently signed a contract before 1/16/2011 may be eligible for an upgrade after 12 months (see here).
Sprint We're not sure yet how Sprint's discounts will work for the iPhone, but under their newly implemented "New For You Upgrade Program," users are eligible for upgrades after 20 months.

You can check your eligibility for a subsidized upgrade on Apple's website here, but come next fall, it's very likely that Apple will release the iPhone 5, and an iPhone 5S and/or 6 will likely follow. In the meanwhile, there'll be the Nexus Prime and likely a number of other Android contenders. But how soon will you be able to upgrade? Well, as you can see from the table to the right, it seems like the networks have agreed that about 20 months is the optimum figure.


Return Policies

Network Return Policy Length Restocking Fees
AT&T 30 days Customer is responsible for all charges incurred while the device is active, plus a $35 restocking fee.
Verizon 14 days Customer is responsible for all charges incurred while the device is active, plus a $35 restocking fee.
Sprint 14 days Customer is responsible for all charges incurred while the device is active, plus a $35 restocking fee. However, the restocking fee is waived for customers who have upgraded but decide to go back to their previously owned and activated device..

If you're considering switching carrier's, there's always the chance that you'll take your shiny new iPhone home and find that you don't get any signal whatsoever in your house. Or you might decide that you'd prefer to wait for the Nexus Prime. In that case, you'll want to make sure your first choice for carrier has a decent return policy. All the carriers offer a return period during which you can return the device and the the Early Termination Fees are waived, but they vary in length and in restocking fees.

A bonus tip: You may be able to avoid the restocking fee by buying directly from Apple (see here).

Tell us what you think:

Which carrier will you be buying your iPhone 4S on? And is there anything we missed out in our comparison? Let us know!

 

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