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.
Android phones are a tricky thing, because makers like Samsung and HTC have a bad habit of repackaging the same phone with a different name for different carriers. For example, Verizon's HTC Thunderbolt, AT&T's HTC Inspire and Sprint's Evo 4G are all virtually the same phone with only minor differences.
All told, Verizon has 19 Android phones, including three 4G models. They range in price from free to $299.99, with the 4G phones all over $200.
AT&T has 13 phones, all but two are under $99. The two pricier phones are both 4G phones, the HTC Inspire 4G and Motorola Atrix, which AT&T is only just beginning to roll out. Most of the phones are lower-end models with less memory, smaller, lower resolution screens and slower CPUs.
Sprint has 11 Android phones, five of which are 4G phones. It has the cheapest of the 4G phones, the EVO 4G, and the rest of the phones are under $200. Some of them, like the Kyocera Echo and Motorola XPRT, aren't exactly top of the line, so it's a high/low game of quality.
T-Mobile has 10 Android phones, although it has multiple versions of the same model. There are three different MyTouch 4G phones, for example, only differentiated by color. Later this month it will get an exclusive release of the HTC Launch 4G, a beautiful phone with a large screen and fast processor, that will be competitive with the top-end offerings of the other players.
- Reading The Fine Print: As of June 2011
- T-Mobile Update
- Unique Carrier Features You May Not Know About
- Best data plan (individual user): AT&T
- Best rollover plan: AT&T
- Most comprehensive 4G availability (so far) - Intro
- Most comprehensive 4G availability - Verizon
- Most generous minute usage plan – T-Mobile
- Best individual plan (power user) – T-Mobile
- Best family plan (economical) – T-Mobile
- Best family plan (power users) - Sprint
- Best small business plan - Verizon
- Best Web-only offers - Verizon
- Best offerings for the disabled - Sprint
- Best international calling plan – Too close to call
- Best connectivity overseas - Sprint
- Best phone selection-overall – AT&T
- Best network reputation - Verizon
- Best non-phone selection - Verizon
- Best hardware selection under $100 – AT&T
- Best hardware selection over $100 - Verizon
- Most exclusive handsets – AT&T & Verizon
- If you must have… an iPhone – AT&T
- If you must have… an Android - Verizon
- If you must have… a BlackBerry – AT&T
- If you must have… a Windows Phone – T-Mobile
- If you must have… a 4G phone - Sprint
- Most generous trade-in program – T-Mobile
- Most change-friendly (Who makes it easy to switch phones) - Sprint
- Best plans, no-contract – Part 1
- Best plans, no-contract – part 2 – Net10
- Cheapest early termination fee - Sprint