This week has been a rumormongers’ dream. There is so much speculation and “unnamed” sources that are “confirming” that the iPhone is coming to T-Mobile, as well as Sprint. That would mean, it’s the first time that All four major carriers have had access to use this amazing device, and it’s also the first time everyone in the United States can truly choose the iPhone monthly combination that is right for them.

Although none of this information is true, it does force me to ponder the question: Which network would actually be the best deal for me with the iPhone? To answer that, I’ll need to examine a few key elements: Carrier reliability, capabilities, and offerings as far as price and flexibility. Since the device itself will likely be universal, based on Apple’s business model, one can assume that the real factor in deciding is going to lie within the networks themselves, and not the device.

Let’s look at a few key things that are important to me:

Everything you are about to read will be based on my own experiences with the carriers in question. I’ve owned smart phone devices on AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint in my lifetime, so those opinions will be based on experience. I won’t dwell into T-Mobile all that much, because my opinion with that won’t account too much. Knowing that, I’ll rely on information from a variety of sources to average out a T-Mobile iPhone experience, given the functionalities that would likely be allowed on the device over the course of a two-year contract.

Since the device is a PHONE above all else, we’ll need to examine how the device copes with the basic functionality that a phone should produce for a user. We’ll start with call clarity, reliability, and also the external capabilities of calling. We’ll also need to examine texting as well, and discuss the available texting plans for each carrier.

To start, let’s begin by looking at the current iPhone carriers, AT&T and Verizon. We’ll start with AT&T, since I’m currently on their network.

AT&T’s calling network in my area has been quite reliable, and I have service in almost every location in which I need it. It’s been reliable for the most part, but it has had its cases of dropped calls. I can’t necessarily pin the blame on AT&T for all of them, seeing as though I talk to people on other networks quite frequently, however the majority of such incidents have occurred while speaking to another device connected to the AT&T network, so to me, this tells me that AT&T may have something to do with it.

The calling plans, and their costs, are somewhat comparable, but I’m not so sure it’s worth really going into depth with calling plans, because I never use the minutes I have anyways. However, the great thing about having service with AT&T are the “rollover minutes” that get saved when I don’t use them every month. This is a fantastic system, seeing as though I have a five-line service plan that runs nearly $300 per month. Five people, on my plan, only equals a 1400 minute per month plan at that, and I’ve currently saved up nearly 7,000 rollover minutes. With that being said, you may think that rollover minutes are quite irrelevant, but when comparing to other service provider rates on calling (with smart phones), the rollover minutes can easily save me lots of money on high cell traffic periods, such as holidays or other periods when people talk a bunch. There have been several months where we’ve exceeded 1,500 minutes, and weren’t charged anything extra, and many times where we didn’t even touch 1,000. It fluctuates frequently, but with AT&T service, my price doesn’t, and so AT&T gets the “Win” for calling plans in my opinion.

Now, at this point, I’m likely expected to go into Text messaging. It’s a very logical step, but remember this is all about what would be best for me personally, and not for everyone. There is no way to properly analyze what would be best for everyone, and any person who even thinks they can accurately judge the “best” of anything for everyone is a fool.

I’m not going to discuss or even compare text messaging for this analysis, because I do not have a texting plan, and neither do the four lines on my account. We all pay $0 for texting every month, because Google Voice beats every texting plan on the planet. If, however, I had to examine this particular element from an outsider perspective, AT&T would definitely fail big time in this category, purely because of their lack of options to their customers. They expect every user, even casual ones, to pay an outrageous $20 per month for unlimited messaging. This may not seem like a huge deal when you factor in the Unlimited mobile-to-any mobile plan they have, giving unlimited calling to all cell phones in the country when you get unlimited texting, but it’s really quite redundant when it costs you more to use it. Like me, you may be a person that is looking for the functionality of a smart phone, without actually using the core features of a “phone” in itself. What I mean is, I like the smart phone because of the data services end of things, and the communication flexibility that it gives me to enhance my life, but don’t actually make very many calls or text messages on a monthly basis. MY average minute usage is around 300 per month on average, and my texting habits circle around 100 per month… maybe. With that, there is simply no reason for me to want to pay outrageous charges for texting just to get unlimited calling, a feature that would be pointless when my current 1400 minute/5 people plan is already overkill.

This is why AT&T loses the texting battle. I would go into Verizon and Sprint, but I don’t have enough experience on Verizon’s network to judge. I see the prices, but it means nothing to a person that doesn’t want it in the first place.

Let’s move the most important feature for me… Data.

Since there is no way of knowing for sure whether Apple will incorporate 4G LTE into their next device or not, we’ll move under the assumption that it will, because it makes the most sense at this point. When the next iPhone is launched, and shortly into it’s life-cycle, it’s likely safe to say that every carrier will have some sort of LTE coverage. I can say this, because Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile all have a vast “4G” network set up already, and have been expanding it for a while. AT&T on the other hand, is currently lacking in that area, but will very likely catch up later. Educated assumptions are really all I can go on when I analyze what will be best for my future device, and so, as in the assumption that the next iPhone will be LTE ready, so too will my assumption be for AT&T’s network (this is especially true if they acquire T-Mobile).

I don’t care about LTE though. It’s not important to me at all, and when it does come.. I’m not updating. (Click Here to find out why).

Data reliability in my area for AT&T is great, and the speed is wonderful. I’ve had HSPA+ in my area for months now, and I couldn’t be happier with the service. Sprint has had “WiMax” up and moving here shortly after, and I hear that’s great too (I’ve beaten an Evo 4G in data speeds with my iPhone 4 though, so I wasn’t really all that impressed with WiMax… perhaps it was a fluke? Three times in a row? He blames it on reception, but I’m pretty sure that’s all still related to the reliability of your network my friend.

Moving on… For data, I’m giving the win to AT&T, but only because I don’t care about LTE. If I did, the win would likely go to Verizon hands down, because let’s face it; they are way ahead in that realm.

One element I didn’t look at though, is the overall deal that I’d be getting with the next iPhone 4, and comparing it on all networks. If I really wanted a deal, and was looking for the best value that fit my needs, which carrier would I choose? For that category, the answer is actually easier than all the rest. All I need to look at, is the features, capabilities, and of course the price. When discussing value, price is a BIG deal. Sprint knows that, and while their “customers service” is horrible, and their phones tend to be as well, one thing that is forgotten sometimes when considering Sprint is the PRICE! Can any carrier beat that Unlimited calling, text, and data (without a throttle) for $80 per month price point? Does anybody even get close? No way ladies and gentlemen, Sprint with an iPhone is a deadly deal, and I can’t imagine Sprint not getting more customers from it. The deal is more than good enough to put up with their crap.

So who would I choose? If I cared about LTE at all, I’d probably say Verizon or Sprint, because they have a decent “4G” network already. However, I’m likely to stay with AT&T, simply because of the great service I’ve received, and everyone is there already. I doubt I would go to Verizon, but again… I’m looking at the best deal for me. BUT, because I don’t care about LTE, and I am looking for the best deal, Sprint is actually looking very attractive.. if they get the iPhone.

Overall… Sprint will likely win when I look at everything. I could actually get into texting then, my calling wouldn’t be an issue because of the price, and the data is unlimited without a throttle, which no other [iPhone] carrier has.

Again, this is my opinion, for MY condition. Don’t come comparing it to you and your condition, because this write-up doesn’t include you.

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