Help with carrier decision..

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Spadoinkles, Feb 7, 2012.

?

Which carrier?

  1. AT&T

    4 vote(s)
    44.4%
  2. Sprint

    1 vote(s)
    11.1%
  3. Verizon

    3 vote(s)
    33.3%
  4. Other (Please state)

    1 vote(s)
    11.1%
  1. Spadoinkles, Feb 7, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2012

    Spadoinkles macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    Location:
    Florida
    #1
    Hey guys,
    I'm currently looking at going over to the states for my tertiary education in the coming months and in the process of budgeting, looking at what to expect for my phone bills and hopefully deciding on one while I'm at it.

    I currently plan on keeping my current HTC with my New Zealand sim so I can continue receiving local stuff, and am particularly interested in an iPhone because of cloud syncing and ease of use with tracking and whatnot with my lineup of Macs.

    I'd see myself as a moderate user, although I'm mostly fussed over data. What can I expect price/performance/cap-wise? Can data be easily tethered onto my macbook or should I plan for a 4G USB stick too? What carriers would you recommend? Are phones usually carrier locked or can I expect it to work outside of America if I do not stay on after my studies?

    Thanks! :)
     
  2. Agent-P macrumors 68030

    Agent-P

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    Location:
    The Tri-State Area
    #2
    Well, first off it would depend on where you're planning on going to school. Depending on their we can first help you pick a carrier which works well in that area.
     
  3. Spadoinkles, Feb 7, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2012

    Spadoinkles thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    Location:
    Florida
    #3
    Central Florida.
     
  4. pilot1226, Feb 7, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2012

    pilot1226 macrumors 6502a

    pilot1226

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2010
    Location:
    USA
    #4
    If you are going to be tethering, I think AT&T has the best data plans. They also have the fastest data over 3G since they use HSPA+ (which is marketed as 4G here - the other carriers that use the iPhone use CDMA, a different format that is considerably slower.)

    AT&T's data plans I think are around 5GB, including any tethering data you use, for somewhere around 50ish per month (just for your data). However, as a student you can often get a discount on your service.

    If you're going to be texting a lot or using lots of voice minutes, plan accordingly, especially if you're going to be calling New Zealand. You may want to consider Skype or something like that (and have family also get Skype) so you can call them for free.

    Tethering from the iPhone is very, very, very easy.

    I just checked the AT&T website: Before any discounts, you're looking at $89.99 if you don't have a texting plan for their lowest tier of minutes. Nation 450 plan with Rollover is $39.99, and the data is $50. If you want texting, it's 20 cents each or $20 for unlimited texting. Before tax. So, that's $109 if you want the unlimited texting.

    On Sprint it looks like if you want the iPhone you have to take the 450 minute plan for $69.99, which includes unlimited data but with another $10 surcharge, but tethering (5 GB allotment) costs another $30 per month. So that's $109 but at least you get unlimited data and messaging, too. This could be worthwhile if you didn't plan on having an internet provider at your residence, because it would save you the $40-$50 per month that you would otherwise spend for internet access.

    Verizon isn't much better. It's also $109 per month for the hotspot option which includes 450 minutes and unlimited texting. But, you only get 4 GB of data use.

    So, if you're looking to not have a plan like cable internet at home, and you think you'll be using more than 5 GB of data per month, consider AT&T. Sprint's overages for the tethering are horrendous, and AT&T's speeds are better which is important when you're using your phone to tether.
     
  5. Agent-P, Feb 7, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2012

    Agent-P macrumors 68030

    Agent-P

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    Location:
    The Tri-State Area
    #5
    I don't have any personal experience with carrier coverage in Florida, but from what I've read AT&T iPhone users are rather happy with their coverage in central Florida. Maybe if someone who lives there can comment on this thread? I've put in a central Florida zip code so you can view the various plan options at this link. What I can tell you for sure is that AT&T will make you get the 5gb option if you want to tether your iPhone (unless you want to jailbreak and try to get away with tethering with a lower data plan). Also, AT&T has a hard cap on their data plans meaning they'll make you pay overage charges if you go over your allowed data for the month. Lastly, if you buy the iPhone through AT&T then it'll be locked to that carrier. Alternatively you can pay the full retail price for a factory unlocked model directly from Apple (on the screen where you choose a carrier, the unlocked option will be found by scrolling down under the carrier logos).

    EDIT: to add on to pilot1226's comment, if you're going to be using quite a few minutes, then the rollover plans AT&T offers will really come in handy. Just try to use barely any minutes the first month and you'll be solid after that.
     
  6. Nermal Moderator

    Nermal

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2002
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #6
    It's a good idea to get an unlocked model if you're planning on coming back to NZ before the 2-year contract is up (you could also pick one up here before you leave; Telecom and Vodafone sell them already unlocked). However, note that you can't use an unlocked iPhone on Verizon or Sprint so make sure that you pick your carrier before buying the phone.
     
  7. techguy20 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2010
    #7
    How about Straight Talk or H2O -- both AT&T MVNOs, so you can use their network at a much lower price, and with no contract.

    i.e. $45/month unlimited talk, text, data on Straight Talk
     
  8. Spadoinkles thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    Location:
    Florida
    #8
    Wow! Thanks for the replies guys.


    pilot1226-
    Is there any mention of these student discounts at AT&T's website? I haven't yet firmed up on my housing, but it seems some residences do provide free Wi-Fi to residents. I'm not quite sure how reliable it is, I'd prefer not to depend on it and accept it as a bonus if it comes.

    I wouldn't be calling or texting New Zealand. Say except for emergencies, I'll keep it all to Skype. Hence why minutes and texts are almost irrelevant too. With so much data around, wouldn't most people be on Skype/Viber or so? 450 minutes would be more than enough; 5GB should be plenty for Skyping on the go, and it seems like there are many AT&T hotspots in public places with free unlimited internet too (if I'm right)

    What troubles me about Sprint & Verizon is they apparently only work on their own, carrier-locked phones (as mentioned by Nermal) hence might make it difficult to leave, or have the phone operate outside of America? I want to leave myself with greatest flexibility and have the greatest speeds while I'll be over there. Sprint's plan does seem quite enticing though.

    Verizon, meh. I might give that a pass.



    Agent-P

    How anal do carriers go with jailbreaking and such? What grounds do they have on the phone once I've jailbroken it? (Not so much warranty-side since it can be revoked, but more billing and usage) I wouldn't usually look at an iPhone, considering it mainly for the subsidy that makes it quite affordable, otherwise the plan will go on my HTC and I'll bring my old concrete-wall Nokia to keep my NZ sim while I'm over there.


    Nermal

    Perhaps you would you offer the subsidy instead?
    Can I bring my own iPhone to AT&T? How would that work? Would their new-phone subsidy be used to subsidise the cost of their plans or am I dreaming too much here?


    techguy20 elaborate please?
     
  9. Agent-P macrumors 68030

    Agent-P

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    Location:
    The Tri-State Area
    #9
    I'm pretty sure the carriers can't tell if the iPhone is jailbroken or not. If they can, then they just don't care. I used my jailbroken 3GS on T-Mobile for a year and now my sister is using the same jailbroken 3GS on her T-Mobile line. no problems. I also have a friend with a jailbroken 4S on AT&T and they don't give him any trouble. As for the warranty, you'd be better off taking it to an Apple retail location rather than AT&T. You'd just have to restore it to stock before taking it in. I completely understand the lure of the subsidy. Being a college student myself, trying to save as much as possible is always a priority. You could get the subsidised AT&T locked one and do a software unlock using ultrasn0w...although after doing a quick search it appears that the unlock for the iPhone 4S is still being worked on.
     
  10. takeshi74, Feb 8, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2012

    takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2011
    #10
    No. Not all my contacts use Skype. Not everyone has unlimited data free of throttling.

    Nope subsidies are for devices. You pay the same amount for service.
     
  11. cruisencode macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2009
    #11
    I'm in Central Florida and switched from AT&T to Verizon due to dropped calls, failed calls, and spotty coverage.
     
  12. Diseal3 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2008
    #12
    Was having a lot of problems when I was down there also. Calls would drop and slow 3G will full signal.
     
  13. Spadoinkles thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    Location:
    Florida
    #13
    So.. AT&T or not?

    Can Sprint/Verizon phones easily be unlocked if I'm travelling overseas, then connected back to their network?

    Any other suggestions?
    Damn, even more confused now.


    Also any idea where I can find information on student pricing and such?
     
  14. JakeT85 macrumors regular

    JakeT85

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2012
    #14
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A406 Safari/7534.48.3)

    Verizon will unlock your phone for use overseas after I believe 60 days of your account being in good standing. AT&T will not unlock your phone for use overseas, they make you pay roaming rates. You can buy an unlocked from apple for full retail and use it on at&t and them it would work overseas or get the Verizon and have it unlocked. I'm not from Central Florida so I can't comment on coverage; however if they are both good go with at&t for speeds if you will be staying in that area most of your time, or if you plan to road trip and travel all over go with Verizon for the bigger 3G footprint and just overall better coverage.
     
  15. Mikesus macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2011
    #15
    Recently came back from Orlando area and Sprint iPhone works fair to poor down there. (Sprint is having issues in many areas with the iPhone) I can say that since I switched to ATT, I am not seeing the trouble I did with Sprint.
     
  16. Spadoinkles thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
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    Location:
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