Pros/Cons of an iPhone 5 on AT&T or Verizon (or Sprint?)

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by exi, Oct 16, 2012.

  1. exi, Oct 16, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2012

    exi macrumors 6502

    Oct 16, 2012
    I've read multiple threads discussing the two carriers here on MacRumors and am something of a techie. I'm interested in what others think about my little carrier decision.

    The short version:

    Switched to AT&T in 2010 for the iPhone 4. Had a mostly solid experience, no significant problems. Contract expired this month, so am trying Verizon for an iPhone 5. Also had an AT&T iPhone 5 for awhile.

    What I'm torn between:

    + GSM network
    + Simultaneous voice/data
    + No UTF-8 SMS/MMS oddities like apparently happens with Verizon?
    + HSPA+ support (has ranged from 3G speeds to 10 mbps down in my area)
    + Where both are present, AT&T LTE tends to be faster than VZW's (maybe just because of less utilization so far?)
    - No LTE coverage in my area, and no plans to add any in 2012
    - Seemingly less building penetration of cell signal
    - Possible reliability issues in larger markets (though unlikely to affect me)

    + Seemingly better building penetration of cell signal
    + LTE coverage present here (has ranged from 4-27 down in my area)
    + 3G coverage here not bad compared to AT&T lower-end HSPA+ or even their 3G
    + Factory unlocked iPhone 5
    + Free personal hotspot (though of limited use to me)
    + Seemingly better coverage nationwide, for the most part
    - CDMA network
    - Voice overrides data on iPhone 5, even with LTE, due to antenna issue
    - Occasional UTF-8 weirdness when texting out of network
    - Where both are present, Verizon LTE tends to be slower (saturation issue?)

    As for Sprint, I was with them in the past and had few, if any, problems. Left for the iPhone 4 at the time. They're planning LTE in my area and the unlimited data thing is appealing. suggests it's a wash between the two where I am, slight edge to VZW.

    I spend a lot of time in hospitals and do use my phone as a primary GPS when traveling in unfamiliar areas, which argues for both carriers. I may be moving next summer, not sure where yet.

    Curious what MR says about this particular situation / take on things.
  2. macher macrumors 65816


    Oct 13, 2012
    First I keep LTE off on my AT&T iPhone 5 because I'm happy with the HSPA+ performance. I also think it saves battery. I didn't get the iPhone because of LTE.

    A lot of people will come here and mention throttling. I've been throttled and I can honestly say I can't tell the difference.

    The only coverage I care about is coverage where I frequent which is my area/region.

    Honestly AT&T and VZW are both equally reliable in my area. I'll give the slight edge to AT&T for voice.

    I would say if you've been happy with AT&T then stick with them. Since you've been with AT&T since the 4 you most likely have unlimited data.
  3. ercsliberty macrumors 6502

    May 15, 2011
    just look at all the scared people around here that check theyre data usage hourly,enough said
  4. docprego macrumors 65816

    Jun 12, 2007
    Henderson, NV
    Agreed. Even though LTE is not yet in my area, unlimited 3G will be fine until it is. Besides I have few complaints about 3G anyway. The iPhone 5 has sped up web page load times from my 4S by quite a bit, even thought they are both connected via 3G. When LTE arrives, it's going to be insane. Should feel like a new phone all over again.
  5. ddarko macrumors 6502

    May 7, 2007
    A pretty good list but this point needs to be qualified a bit because there are some markets such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Raleigh where AT&T has had to implement LTE with a 5x5 setup. Verizon has 10x10 LTE everywhere. This chart from Anandtech's iPhone 5 review illustrates the difference:


    5x5 inherently has half the peak speed of 10x10 LTE setup so all other things being equal, in those markets where AT&T's LTE is 5x5, Verizon LTE will be potentially twice as fast. Of course, all other things are almost never equal and it is possible that Verizon LTE could be saturated to the point where an less-populated AT&T 5x5 network will provide faster real-world speeds but I don't know if saturation is a real problem in any city.
  6. apierrec macrumors 6502

    Sep 18, 2012
    Well, I cannot really help.

    I am really hoping for a miracle that next week Apple will finally announce T-Mobile is joining the iPhone family.

    Am definitely just let my AT&T expires and I will never pay or sign-up with Verizon. Screw them!

    I am rooting for the underdogs ... Sprint (+Softbank) and T-Mobile (+MetroPCS).

    I loathe CDMA so I have no choice but really wait for T-Mobile or use their nano sim for the meantime. I can live with fast wi-fi and fake 4G and I do not make lot of network calls & text messaging.
  7. dw3bb10 macrumors 6502

    Nov 1, 2008
    If Sprint has LTE in your area, go with them.
  8. Daniel L macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2009
    One of the main reasons for getting an iPhone 5 is to get LTE. You have to go with Verizon... You made the decision easy when you said that Verizon is the only carrier to have LTE where you live.
  9. aajeevlin macrumors 6502a

    Mar 25, 2010
    Speaking from experience, I've observed that ATT has much better building penetration than Verizon. I've done the comparison with my friend's ATT in supermarket, mall, movie theater. ATT usually 4-5 bar, Verizon 1 bar + extremely slow data network. This might also have something to do with the general building material used in the given area.

    In most cases, as soon as I step outside of the building I have full bar, so I know for fact is the building, and not just bad signal in the area.
  10. acorntoy macrumors 65816

    May 25, 2010
    As much as I hate to say it this appears to be true.

    I like Verizon more (switched 2 years ago :-D) and get service in more places, but at school I have 5 bars outside, when I walk into the building I drop to 1 and almost unusable data while AT&T still has 2 bars of reasonable 3G inside. This is the only building I've ever seen this happen in, but because I'm at this building 5 days a week it can be frustrating at times, so if you know your gonna be in building with really thick walls its something to consider.

    Although if you didn't have any problems with Sprint, and they're planning LTE in your area, I'd say go with them. The more people that join Sprint the better it'll get, and when it gets better it will hopefully force AT&T and Verizon to actually start competing again.
  11. rworne macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2002
    I'm in the same boat as the OP. AT&T has HSPA+ and no LTE. Verizon has LTE.

    Speed on AT&T's slower network beats the crap out of Verizon's LTE. Verizon has a higher burst speed, but AT&T has the smoothest, fastest data rate on average.

    My iPad 3 (AT&T) trounces the Verizon iPhone 5 I have. When I go over the hill into L.A. And hit AT&T's LTE network, the gap widens even more - even though the Verizon network improves as well.
  12. bushman4 macrumors 68020

    Mar 22, 2011
    Theres no right or wrong answer of which network to choose. The answer varies by person.
    Keep in mind that where you are using the phone makes the difference.
  13. rworne macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2002
    This is quite a good point.

    The reason I went with Verizon was several fold:
    1. Works at my house and work location
    2. Work discount
    3. Verizon would unlock for overseas travel

    AT&T struck out on those for me, despite the better performance in my area.

    Anyone else would have different reasons for their choices.
  14. tymaster50 macrumors 68030


    Oct 3, 2012
    New Jersey
    I would think with HSPA+ there is no real reason for using LTE.
    I went with Verizon and it's kinda just the same for me, voice over data isn't really a factor for me since I don't look up stuff on the phone while I am on the phone. Coverage isn't a problem, for me 2 bars of lte on verizon was about 13mbps.
  15. exi, Oct 17, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012

    exi thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 16, 2012
    Thanks for the advice, all. I'm thinking I'll be going back to AT&T but not totally sure.

    That was a big part of why I tried VZW out, but the more I think about it, the more I wonder about the utility of LTE -- which is almost always fast beyond the point of diminishing returns -- versus HSPA+, which is sometimes that fast but usually adequate otherwise, especially when I don't use more than 2 GB in a month. My big priority is coverage wherever I go.
  16. LapsangSouchong macrumors 65816


    Jul 15, 2010
    the burrows
    My experience is the opposite. I work in a big, dumb, metal clad building. outside the building AT&T and Verizon are smiler. Inside: AT&T=searching, Verizon has 2 bars.
  17. Black Magic macrumors 68020

    Black Magic

    Sep 30, 2012
    Sprint is cheaper and you have unlimited data. 3G network is god awful speed wise for data but it comes down to where you are at most of the time when you use your phone. Work and home? Wifi should have you covered.

    LTE is nice if your area has it and I love the fact that I dont have to worry about how much data I used or if there is a data usage glitch on the phone because my bill will be the same regardless.

    For me, it comes down to saving money. I don't like being nickled and dimed to death and AT&T loves sucking you dry.

  18. LapsangSouchong macrumors 65816


    Jul 15, 2010
    the burrows
    Like many, I've also been pondering the difference.
    I had original iphone on AT&T. HATED AT&T, so I paid ETF and took it to Tmobile. That had pros and cons.
    I went BACK to AT&T for iphone4. Loved the simultaneous voice/data (I had it with old sidekicks lol). Couldn't make a phone call in my building at work. Bought a microcell off a friend (pros and cons there!)
    Kept AT&T.

    Bought a AT&T iphone5.
    Returned it. and jumped to Verizon.

    I've been on Verizon for a week and MAN is this an adjustment!

    I am now officially split:

    for me the main issues now:
    NO signal in 2 buildings at work, annoying microcell lag in my office
    no simultaneous voice and data.

    I must say: you REALLLLLY don't know what you've lost til that's gone. And you REALLLY don't know what it means if you never had it.
    To coin and old phrase it's like holding hands, versus going BACK to holding hands after a more intimate relationship.
    If you've always been with Verizon, you don't really know...

    Now I'm torn. I have 3 days left to decide....
    is voice or data more important to me...
  19. antman2295 macrumors 6502

    Nov 30, 2010
    I have to say, I have never had any issues with At&t. Where I live At&t has great coverage, but no LTE. But the next city over has LTE on Verizon. I haven't had a chance to test Verizons LTE, but At&t's HSPA+ is plenty fast (5-10mbps usually). We personally choose to stay with At&t because everywhere we have been we have great coverage, but also we get a big discount with At&t.

    I didn't know, until a couple years ago, that Verizon couldn't talk and send data. That is a very important feature that I personally use a lot, and would hate to loose. I also like that At&t has 3G HSPA+ and LTE, so it makes things run smoother. We have family that we visit often, and they live in the "woods". The trees are so thick that they almost completely block out sprints signal, unless your in just the right spot you might be able to make a call. With At&t you can make a call and send data fairly quickly almost anywhere. (It doesn't help that their house is metal).

    We have been with "At&t" since 1996, so it really does help when you call in. It also helps to "make a friend" at the At&t store, and your issues get resolved a lot easier/quicker.
  20. LapsangSouchong macrumors 65816


    Jul 15, 2010
    the burrows
    For me, as time goes on, more becomes "simultaneous voice and data".
    I'm really pondering this change...
  21. exi thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 16, 2012
    Lapsang, if it helps at all, I'm going back to AT&T.

    Concurrent voice/data, better voice quality to my ears, and now that I think about it, fewer people complaining that I sound far away on this Verizon iPhone for some reason. Not sure what to make of building penetration since I've been hearing it both ways but have seen VZW do a bit of a better job where I am, though I'm not sure about tower locations.

    And HSPA+ backup to LTE, which we'll probably have by some time next year... if I'm here next year. (For the medical types, I'm an MS4 applying to residencies, so who knows!)
  22. cababah macrumors 68000

    Jun 11, 2009
    SF Bay Area, CA
    According to this review, the iPhone 5 lasts much longer browsing LTE vs 3G/HSPA+
  23. LapsangSouchong macrumors 65816


    Jul 15, 2010
    the burrows
    Interesting. Tell me again: how long have you been away from AT&T? Contact me via messaging...
  24. exi thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 16, 2012
    Seems I'm too new / have too low a post count to PM you. Been away from AT&T for less than a couple weeks.
  25. LapsangSouchong, Oct 17, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012

    LapsangSouchong macrumors 65816


    Jul 15, 2010
    the burrows
    ditto 10 days for me....just contacted AT&T about "what ifs".

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