The iPhone 5 has broken Apple’s pre-order records, and we’re expecting as many as 10 million sales before September’s out. With the phone available on all three big US carriers, which one is offering the best deal? Let’s take a look.
How to pick the best iPhone 5 carrier for you
You have to consider the price of the iPhone 5. The 16GB model starts at around $199 with a two-year tie-in. Prepaid versions with smaller carriers tend to cost more, but you must remember that the cheaper data, text and voice plans mean you can make up the difference in a year or less.
Data plans are also important, and you need to remember that a serious drawback to 4G is how it leads you to using massive amounts of data before you realise it. AT&T and Verizon offer shared data plans whereas Cricket, Sprint and Virgin offer unlimited. OK, you won’t get any shocks when you get your bill with these latter three, but you’ll be stuck on lower speeds.
Network speed is another factor. The iPhone 5 comes with 4G LTE, and while Verizon claims to have the biggest network, AT&T claims its LTE network is faster. Sprint offers 4G and unlimited data plans. Where you live will inform your choice as well, as not all carriers have got 4G LTE in all regions, so check with your carrier before you make any decisions. Verizon is leading the pack with 4G, AT&T is middling and Sprint has, ironically, just left the blocks.
There’s no point having an iPhone 5 if you can’t make a decent call on it. You should check the signal coverage by entering your zip code into your carrier’s website. Obviously there’ll be dropouts and glitches every now and then with any carrier, but AT&T is notorious for them.
If you’re really desperate for the iPhone 5, you may have to pay a fee to end your existing contract early. You might end up paying as much as $350 depending on how many months you have to go and who you’re with. You could always sell your old phone to recoup this expense, though. So check with your current carrier what you have to pay to bail out as well. If it is too much and you still want an iPhone 5, you can consider buying an unlocked version and continuing on the contract with your current carrier.