Data Plan Comparison: Unlimited Options From T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T and Sprint

T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint, the four major carriers in the United States, all offer unlimited data plan options as of last week, allowing customers to forget about traditional data caps.

With so many options now available for unlimited data, we thought we'd do an in-depth video comparing the plans offered by the four companies to figure out the best value based on price and coverage.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos

Unsurprisingly, Sprint offers the lowest prices, but many people choose not to use Sprint because its LTE coverage is poorer than other carriers. Eliminating Sprint, T-Mobile offers the next best deal, while Verizon comes in third, and AT&T comes in at a distant fourth.

For a single individual, Sprint charges $50 for new customers (for a limited time -- it goes up to $60 next year). T-Mobile charges $70, Verizon charges $80, and AT&T charges $100, making it the most expensive unlimited plan of the four carriers for an individual user.

Prices even out a bit more with an increasing number of lines. At four lines, Sprint is charging $90 (new customers only -- and it's $160 next year), T-Mobile charges $160, and Verizon and AT&T both charge $180. Not all plans are equal though, especially in AT&T's case.

While Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile all offer high-definition video streaming by default, AT&T limits video streaming to 480p unless customers specifically opt out. Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile all also offer 10GB of tethering data per line for connecting your Mac or iPad to your phone, but AT&T offers no mobile hotspot functionality with its unlimited plan.

T-Mobile offers the same video streaming and hotspot option that Verizon and Sprint do, but its prices are better than Verizon and aren't much more than Sprint, while offering a better network. T-Mobile is also the only network that offers fee-free data plans, so the price listed -- $70 -- is what you pay. T-Mobile doesn't charge activation fees, but other carriers do, which is something to take into account.

All networks will "deprioritize" (aka slow down) data after a certain amount of data is used per month. T-Mobile's limit is 28GB, while AT&T's is 22GB, Verizon's is 22GB, and Sprint's is 23GB. When these caps are hit, data speeds are slowed down.

On paper, T-Mobile seems to offer the best value for the price, but it's always worth taking a look at coverage maps and getting the opinion of other cellular users in your area before choosing a provider. There are also other benefits to look into, such as coverage abroad -- another area where T-Mobile leads the pack.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
48 months ago
Normal cell usage - you walk into a restaurant that isn't too crowded. Your server and waitress / waiter is very attentive to you and seeks to get to you as fast as they can.

Deprioritization - You are in the same restaurant as above albeit it has gotten a little more crowded. The staff is still able to address your refills and requests although at times, it may take them a few extra seconds or minutes, depending on who (staff wise) is on the floor and how many requests from other guests they are writing tickets for at that moment.

Throttling - You are in the same restaurant and it isn't too crowded. However, the staff is purposefully being slow in getting to you and getting your orders filled.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
48 months ago
Basically comes down to T-Mobile vs Verizon. Sprint sucks at coverage and ATT charges too much for not enough. I like the competition though.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
48 months ago
These unlimited plans are another gimmick. Most smartphone users use less than 5GB per month and will be more happy to have less expensive plans rather than pay for unlimited and use only a fraction of it.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
48 months ago
The FCC needs to force all carriers to stop using the word "Unlimited" and use a new word like: "Unthrotited", "Unlimitroted", "Unlimitediminished", "Undiminishlimited"
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
48 months ago
[USER=1260]@Matt Gonzalez[/USER] Your video segment on Verizon is incorrect. They do not throttle after 22GB of phone data. Why is it so many people fail to read what the tos actually says? it isn't hard to understand.

[USER=256472]@Juli Clover[/USER] "All networks will "deprioritize" (aka slow down) data after a certain amount of data is used per month. T-Mobile's limit is 28GB, while AT&T's is 22GB, Verizon's is 22GB, and Sprint's is 23GB. When these caps are hit, data speeds are slowed down."

Deprioritization is not the same thing as throttling. If a user has reached x amount of data per carrier statement, said user may be deprioritized behind other users if the tower they are trying to access is congested. If it isn't congested, said users experience normal usage.

Sloppy reporting by you and Matt. Get the facts right, especially when you go to the trouble to create an article and video for your users.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
48 months ago

These unlimited plans are another gimmick. Most smartphone users use less than 5GB per month and will be more happy to have less expensive plans rather than pay for unlimited and use only a fraction of it.

A lot of people only use less than 5gb because they're forced to monitor their data or else they'll face overage charges. Once you kick some old habits and get used to streaming music and video on unlimited data, there's no going back.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iPhone 12 Pro in Graphite and iPhone 12 in Blue Shown Off in Unboxing Videos

Monday October 19, 2020 8:20 am PDT by
While the iPhone 12 Pro does not launch until Friday, we now have an early unboxing video of the device courtesy of Twitter account DuanRui, providing a closer look at the shiny new flat-edge design and sleek Graphite color option. Ben Geskin re-uploaded the unboxing video to YouTube, which we've embedded below: Geskin has also uploaded an unboxing video of the iPhone 12 in Blue: ...

Kuo: iPhone 12 Pro Demand Higher Than Expected

Sunday October 18, 2020 10:39 pm PDT by
TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo released a research note this morning detailing what he's seen with the volume of iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro pre-orders in the first weekend of sales. Kuo had previously indicated that Apple's estimated shipment allocations for the new iPhone models placed the iPhone 12 at the top with 40-45% of inventory allocation (up from 15-20%). However, ...

New Photos Offer Better Look at iPhone 12 Color Options

Tuesday October 20, 2020 2:34 am PDT by
As we wait for the iPhone 12 review embargo to lift later today, more pictures are circulating of the devices in real-world lighting conditions, providing a better look at the different colors available. Leaker DuanRui has shared images on Twitter of the iPhone 12 in white, black, blue, green, and (PRODUCT)RED. The black and white colors are similar to the iPhone 11 colors, but the other...

Hands-On With Apple's MagSafe Charger for iPhone 12

Monday October 19, 2020 11:54 am PDT by
Alongside the new iPhone 12 models, Apple introduced a MagSafe charger that attaches to the back of the iPhones using magnets embedded both in the charger and in the iPhone. It allows for speedier charging and paves the way for a portless iPhone in the future. MagSafe chargers are shipping out and are in some Apple retail locations now, and we picked one up to check it out. Subscribe to the ...

Some Apple Watch SE Owners Experiencing Issues With Overheating [Updated]

Monday October 19, 2020 11:38 am PDT by
There may be an issue with the new Apple Watch SE, which some users have found is overheating after a few hours of usage. Several Apple Watch SE owners in South Korea have run into problems, as noted in a Reddit post chronicling the complaints. There have been six reports from Apple Watch SE owners in South Korea who have had their Apple Watches get hot and malfunction, with a yellow spot...

Apple's New MagSafe Charger and Cases Begin Arriving to Customers

Saturday October 17, 2020 10:10 am PDT by
Apple's new MagSafe charger and cases have begun arriving to some customers earlier than expected, and images of the accessories have started to surface on Twitter. The photos provide a first look at the products in real-world use. As of writing, some MagSafe cases are also available for pickup at select Apple Stores in countries like the United States, Canada, and Germany. Filip...

Apple Releases iPadOS and iOS 14.1 With Multiple Bug Fixes Ahead of iPhone 12 Launch

Tuesday October 20, 2020 10:06 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.1, the first major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 14 operating system updates that were released in September. iOS and iPadOS 14.1 come a week after Apple released the golden master versions of the updates to developers. The iOS 14.1 update can be downloaded for free and it is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access...

Watch: iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Unboxing Videos and First Impressions

Tuesday October 20, 2020 6:05 am PDT by
Apple's embargo has lifted for iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro reviews. In addition to our detailed review roundups for each device, we've rounded up over a dozen unboxing videos and first impressions below. iPhone 12 in Blue on left and iPhone 12 Pro in Pacific Blue on right via Engadget Key new features of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro include a flat-edge design, 5G support, a much faster A14 ...

Apple Plans to Enable 5G in Dual SIM Mode With Software Update Later This Year

Monday October 19, 2020 9:20 am PDT by
iPhone XS models and newer feature both a physical SIM slot and a digital eSIM, allowing for a feature known as dual SIM, dual standby. This means you can have two lines of service on one iPhone, which is useful for purchasing data-only plans while traveling abroad or having personal and business lines on a single iPhone. 5G will not be available in Dual SIM mode on the iPhone 12 and iPhone...

Brazilian Certifications Suggest iPhone 12 Mini Features 2,227mAh Battery and iPhone 12 Has 2,815mAh Battery

Friday October 16, 2020 1:08 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone mini has the shortest battery life out of all the iPhones in the iPhone 12 lineup due to its small size, but Apple has not provided public information about the battery's capacity. A regulatory filing from Brazil, however, suggests the iPhone 12 mini has a battery capacity of 2,227mAh. The same regulatory information says the iPhone 12 features a 2,815mAh battery, which is...