What service/plan should I get?

TSE

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Jun 25, 2007
2,992
610
St. Paul, Minnesota
I am doing this a bit ahead of time as I need to sell stock in order to afford an iPhone and it's monthly plans for a year before I get one. I am going to buy an iPhone as soon as the 5S comes out, but at the same time I am wondering what kind of plan I should get.

T-Mobile is out of the question as service down in Iowa where I go to school is abysmal.

I am really just wondering two things:

1. What provider should I get? What is the best way to research it/do you guys have any opinions? The only one I am not looking into is T-Mobile.

2. How much data does a month worth of daily iPhone usage use? I will mostly be using my iPhone for voice navigation, music usage, perhaps a Youtube video or two a day, and a music streaming online service. Is 500 MBs enough as long as I keep my daily web browsing to my MacBook Pro? Or is more generally accepted as a necessity?

Thank you!
 

lordofthereef

macrumors G5
Nov 29, 2011
12,886
3,415
Boston, MA
Where in Iowa are you located? I was in Ames for four years. Both Verizon and AT&T are well established with lte there as well as Des Moines. You will have 4g on most major highways with AT&T and 3G with Verizon. Once you get rural, which happens FAST out there, you drop to edge and 1x or no data at all. We did go to Iowa city a few times and the situation was pretty much the same. By th way, we tried sprint, don't do it, unless you are a masochist.

As far as your data usage, based in what you listed, 500mb won't cut it. You are going to want 2gb at least. You may not hit 2gb each month, but you'll almost certainly go over 1 gb. My wife's usage is right around 1.2gb a month and her habits are about on par with what you say yours are in terms of how she uses her phone.
 

TSE

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Jun 25, 2007
2,992
610
St. Paul, Minnesota
Where in Iowa are you located? I was in Ames for four years. Both Verizon and AT&T are well established with lte there as well as Des Moines. You will have 4g on most major highways with AT&T and 3G with Verizon. Once you get rural, which happens FAST out there, you drop to edge and 1x or no data at all. We did go to Iowa city a few times and the situation was pretty much the same. By th way, we tried sprint, don't do it, unless you are a masochist.

As far as your data usage, based in what you listed, 500mb won't cut it. You are going to want 2gb at least. You may not hit 2gb each month, but you'll almost certainly go over 1 gb. My wife's usage is right around 1.2gb a month and her habits are about on par with what you say yours are in terms of how she uses her phone.
Yeah I'll be in Ames. It's also possible that I will end up in University of Houston or University of Illinois-Chicago in 2014 if I don't make my design program, but I am banking on making it. So AT&T or Verizon it is! I'll check out the plans and choose!
 

Menel

macrumors 603
Aug 4, 2011
6,200
1,050
I am doing this a bit ahead of time as I need to sell stock in order to afford an iPhone and it's monthly plans for a year before I get one. I am going to buy an iPhone as soon as the 5S comes out, but at the same time I am wondering what kind of plan I should get.

T-Mobile is out of the question as service down in Iowa where I go to school is abysmal.

I am really just wondering two things:

1. What provider should I get? What is the best way to research it/do you guys have any opinions? The only one I am not looking into is T-Mobile.

2. How much data does a month worth of daily iPhone usage use? I will mostly be using my iPhone for voice navigation, music usage, perhaps a Youtube video or two a day, and a music streaming online service. Is 500 MBs enough as long as I keep my daily web browsing to my MacBook Pro? Or is more generally accepted as a necessity?

Thank you!
I have the 2GB plan for peace of mind.

I routinely use 400-700MB.

iCloud syncing, web browsing, maps, location and address lookups, messaging, sending photos, Facebook, etc. Avoid music/video except on rare occaions.

Could squeeze into 500MB but it would be tight, and risky.

Music adds up quicker than you would expect. 128kbps audio, could be 54MB per hour, a 4 hour study session could set you back 200MB alone. 6hr a day at work, might be 1.6GB per week.
 

lordofthereef

macrumors G5
Nov 29, 2011
12,886
3,415
Boston, MA
Yeah I'll be in Ames. It's also possible that I will end up in University of Houston or University of Illinois-Chicago in 2014 if I don't make my design program, but I am banking on making it. So AT&T or Verizon it is! I'll check out the plans and choose!
If you go Houston or Chicago, I wouldn't worry one second about TMobile. There is the added bonus with them that you don't sign a contract anyway, so they are less of a risk to try.

Congrats on your acceptance. What do you plan to study?
 

Apple fanboy

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 21, 2012
33,720
23,135
Behind the Lens, UK
1. What provider should I get? What is the best way to research it/do you guys have any opinions? The only one I am not looking into is T-Mobile.Only you know what will work or not work in the areas you frequent. Get a Pay as you go Sim and try out the main contenders at your work/Home/school etc

2. How much data does a month worth of daily iPhone usage use? I will mostly be using my iPhone for voice navigation, music usage, perhaps a Youtube video or two a day, and a music streaming online service. Is 500 MBs enough as long as I keep my daily web browsing to my MacBook Pro? Or is more generally accepted as a necessity?Again depends on your habits. I mostly use Wifi at home and work so I'm not a big data user. How much Wifi will you have access to in an average day?

Thank you!
Everybody can only judge by their own personal habits. I always buy the phone Sim free and then have the option to move as my needs change. Costs me about £15 a month.
 

rockitdog

macrumors 68020
Mar 25, 2013
2,454
802
2 GB of data on an iPhone for a college kid isn't much. I'd go with AT&T because they offer a 3GB data plan for less than Verizon's 2 GB of data. You'd be surprised how quickly data usage adds up on a monthly basis. I was on AT&T's 3 GB plan and always felt so restricted in what I could do. Now I'm with T-Mobile and routinely go 8-10GB a month of Data.
 

TSE

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Jun 25, 2007
2,992
610
St. Paul, Minnesota
If you go Houston or Chicago, I wouldn't worry one second about TMobile. There is the added bonus with them that you don't sign a contract anyway, so they are less of a risk to try.

Congrats on your acceptance. What do you plan to study?
I find out if I make it June 14th for the Industrial Design program. I didn't make it last year, but looking back at it I had a little too much fun as a freshman, this year I was heavily focused. 35 seats open, 210 applying. Thanks for asking! I will let you know if I make it or not. :)

If I buy a T-Mobile iPhone off contract, would I be able to use AT&T with it? Are there any advantages/disadvantages to doing this besides the obvious benefit of choosing what carrier you want? Is AT&T cheaper if you already have a phone?
 

chilibball

macrumors member
Jun 17, 2008
64
0
I find out if I make it June 14th for the Industrial Design program. I didn't make it last year, but looking back at it I had a little too much fun as a freshman, this year I was heavily focused. 35 seats open, 210 applying. Thanks for asking! I will let you know if I make it or not. :)

If I buy a T-Mobile iPhone off contract, would I be able to use AT&T with it? Are there any advantages/disadvantages to doing this besides the obvious benefit of choosing what carrier you want? Is AT&T cheaper if you already have a phone?
If you buy an iPhone unlocked, you can use it on any GSM provider including T-Mobile and AT&T. It would also be cheaper to use an unlocked with T-Mobile because they base their rates off of whether or not you have paid off a phone. In your case you bough outright and have nothing to pay off. AT&T charges the same rate regardless of contract phase. T-Mobile will be cheaper hands down.

FWIW I have Verizon.
Good luck with your acceptance.

Kevin
 

takeshi74

macrumors 601
Feb 9, 2011
4,972
68
What provider should I get?
The one that provides the coverage you need in the areas you need it.

What is the best way to research it/do you guys have any opinions?
Ask around locally. Do not rely on coverage maps.

How much data does a month worth of daily iPhone usage use?
Usage is a subjective matter -- not a per-device matter. If you don't know how much you'll need then guesstimate and pick the next plan up for some headroom (or adjust for the amount of safety margin you want) and monitor your usage very closely for the first few months and adjust as needed. If only one data plan suited every person then we wouldn't have the selection of plans out there.

Is 500 MBs enough
It's impossible to say for certain but probably not for what you're describing. I'd suggest starting with 1-2GB's.

Are there any advantages/disadvantages to doing this besides the obvious benefit of choosing what carrier you want?
That is precisely the point of an unlocked device. However, keep in mind that you can't use it with any carrier. VZW and Sprint won't activate devices that aren't their own on their networks.

Is AT&T cheaper if you already have a phone?
You can answer this yourself by looking at at&t's site. IIRC there's only one rate for plans regardless of whether you take a subsidy or not.
 
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cherishzm

macrumors regular
Mar 13, 2011
152
4
Have you considered buying the iPhone 5 at full price ($649 + taxes) and get set up on Wal-Mart's Straighttalk? You get unlimited everything for $45 per month on Verizon network. Or you can get an unlocked GSM version and get set up with one of AT&T prepaid services such as H2O Wireless which offers unlimited talk & text + 500MB for $50 or 2GB for $60. It'll save you money in the long-term.
 

dictoresno

macrumors 601
Apr 30, 2012
4,205
468
NJ
my wife is from nebraska, near the iowa border. she had verizon, native to the area, and i am from new jersey and had at&t at the time. when i was in most of the area, hours outside of omaha, i was roaming on vaiero since there was no native at&t. my suggestion, if there is equal markets of at&t and verizon in your area, may be best to go with verizon. from what i saw, at&t only has sporadic coverage in main areas, yet doesnt have native coverage in others. at some points, i had no service while she did. i have since switched to verizon for their larger LTE network and am pleased with it so far.

your best way to research it is to take a good look at both carriers coverage maps for the areas where you will be, especially compare LTE coverage. at&t's maps out there vs verizons are very different. much different than the same maps would be for instance around me in NJ. like i said, given the rural areas you may be traveling through in iowa, verizon may be the better choice.