T-Mobile is the top wireless carrier in the Tom's Guide Awards 2020

(Image credit: T-Mobile/Future)

Few wireless carriers have had as big an impact as T-Mobile has enjoyed in recent years. The Uncarrier can claim credit for helping do away with two-year contracts, popularizing unlimited data plans and pushing other customer-friendly innovations that its competitors often match. And with T-Mobile continuing to make waves into 2020, it's no wonder T-Mobile has earned the first-ever Tom's Guide Award for best wireless carrier.

T-Mobile wasn't the first to turn on 5G service, but it did take the lead in bringing 5G coverage to more people, launching nationwide coverage in December 2019 that covers more than 5,000 cities.

  • See all the Tom's Guide Awards 2020 winners

While speeds so far have only been slightly faster than T-Mobile's LTE network, that figures to change as T-Mobile incorporates Sprint's mid-band spectrum into its own low-band 5G network. So far, Philadelphia and New York City have seen their 5G upload and download speeds increase, as T-Mobile has built out its 5G network in those two cities.

T-Mobile's accomplishments don't stop with 5G. The newly launched T-Mobile connect plan offers one of the best prepaid phone plans out there, giving you 2GB of data (both LTE and 5G) for $15 a month. And its T-Mobile Tuesdays giveaways to subscribers continue to set the standard for rewards programs with recent bonuses include free trials of Tidal Premium and Google Stadia Pro.

Other wireless carriers are making their own mark. Visible lets you enjoy Verizon's top-performing network, with unlimited data available for $40 a month — a $30 discount from Verizon's cheapest unlimited plan. And if you add more lines, Visible becomes even more appealing, with four lines of unlimited data costing just $100.

We also like Mint Mobile's low monthly rates (provided you opt for an annual contract instead of month-to-month service) and Verizon's full package of extensive coverage, fast 5G (where available) and solid customer service.

It's important that these carriers keep pushing themselves, especially with T-Mobile's finally completed acquisition of Sprint raising the stakes in the wireless space. Although other carriers are nipping at its heels, T-Mobile is the carrier to beat.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.

  • formercanuck
    Aggressive rollout of 5G shouldn't be the main basis of a 'Top wireless carrier' award, but actual service. T-Mobile's urban service (in my area) is quite good, however, dealing with them for service outside of urban/suburban has been nothing pleasant. While they have made claims of service in many areas ('4G LTE verified' no less), many of these areas are 'No Service'. T-Mobile's 'Office of Executive Management' has been not really cared about this, and effectively told me to find another carrier, claiming that they will 'not' fix the map, or the service and that was their "final statement on the matter". I've used all the various carriers, and in this regard, I've found T-Mobile to be the worst, even if their actual customer service reps/T-Force reps are fine and friendly. There are multiple locations, and many I have called in for issues typically will take 'up to a year' to address. Eg. "New" 5G service in a SoCal community... speeds are typically 0.5Mbps. Will take 12 months. Service in Estes Park, CO... 98% packet loss... will take +8 months. This is not a proper way to run an enterprise corporation.