We slice and dice the plans, phones and fine print at each major U.S. carrier to come up with 23 reasons you might choose one carrier over another.
Verizon has 21 feature phones under $100 and two over $100, and 16 of them are free with a two-year contract. There are also five free smartphones, three for one cent, and 10 smartphones under $100, including Droids, BlackBerrys and the Palm Pre. It also has one netbook and three HotSpot base stations, ranging from $49.99 for the 3G model or $99.99 for the 4G models.
AT&T has a whopping 21 free phones, almost all BlackBerry and Droid, plus the Palm pre and feature phones. Some are online-only deals, including a refurbed iPhone 3GS 8GB version (with a cosmetic blemish) for 1 cent. It has 38 phones under $100, from feature phones to Android and BlackBerry, including the newest BlackBerry on the market, the Torch. It also has USB modems and HotSpots under $100.
T-Mobile has 11 free phones, most of them Droid and BlackBerry smartphones and 18 phones under $100, plus USB modems, a netbook and the Dell Streak.
Sprint's free phones are really a case of getting what you pay for. There are no smartphones except for the Palm Pixi. It has 18 phones under $100, almost all BlackBerrys.