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- T-Mobile has faster 5G and more “premium” data than Verizon for a lower monthly cost.
- However, Verizon tends to have better coverage, especially in rural areas.
- You’ll need a 5G phone to make the most of any of these plans.
T-Mobile and Verizon are often compared when picking a mobile carrier, as T-Mobile is more affordable than Verizon, and you might be wondering why.
Despite this price disparity, T-Mobile gives you more unthrottled, “premium” data in the basic and mid-range plans compared to Verizon’s comparable plans. Plus, T-Mobile has better international and travel perks than Verizon.
At the same time, Verizon generally has better coverage, especially in rural areas. Verizon also has better perks overall, especially if you subscribe to Hulu, Disney Plus, or ESPN Plus. You can also get 50% off a connected device plan for smartwatches, tablets, or hotspots.
T-Mobile vs Verizon: coverage
Generally speaking, Verizon has more expansive coverage than T-Mobile, especially in rural areas. With that said, T-Mobile has improved its network to better cover highways, even boasting it has twice the 5G coverage on highways compared to Verizon.
You can check out each carrier’s LTE and 5G coverage map below. Just note that these maps are taken from each carrier’s website, and have not been independently verified.
In our experience, the general consensus that Verizon has better coverage, especially in rural areas, is true. However, the several T-Mobile users we know aren’t bothered when they don’t have signal in a rural area while a Verizon user does.
Verizon’s coverage map
You can get a closer look at Verizon’s coverage where you live and where you often go on the Verizon website. The map will also show you finer coverage detail for Verizon’s mmWave 5G Ultra Wideband network.
T-Mobile’s coverage map
You can get a closer look at T-Mobile’s coverage where you live and where you often go on T-Mobile’s website. The map will also show you finer coverage detail for T-Mobile’s mmWave 5G Ultra Capacity network.
T-Mobile claims to have better 5G coverage with faster-than-LTE speeds than Verizon, and that much appears true, according to PCMag’s annual Fastest Mobile Networks project.
T-Mobile vs Verizon: is network speed or network coverage more important?
Our experience shows that coverage is more important than speeds.
While T-Mobile has a more expansive, faster 5G network than Verizon, just note that faster data speeds don’t matter if T-Mobile doesn’t reach your most frequented areas. Any coverage at all, even if it means slower data, is better than no coverage for phone calls or texting, especially around your home and home town, or in case of an emergency.
T-Mobile vs Verizon: “premium” data vs normal data
T-Mobile and Verizon offer “premium” data, referring to full-speed, unthrottled data regardless of network traffic.
Normal, non-premium data can still deliver full speeds, but it’s “deprioritized”, which means data speeds can be throttled down when the carrier’s network is experiencing high traffic from heavy data use by lots of people at the same time.
T-Mobile offers more premium data in its basic Essentials (50GB) and mid-range Magenta (100GB) plans than Verizon’s equivalent 5G Start (no premium data) and Play More/Do More plans (50GB).
T-Mobile vs Verizon: 5G network types
First off, 5G is the next generation of cellular networks, and it’s designed to be a major upgrade over the 4G LTE we’ve been used for for years. T-Mobile and Verizon basically have two types of 5G networks.
T-Mobile’s Ultra Capacity 5G and Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband networks are high-band and mid-band 5G networks. High-band 5G networks have short range, but deliver the fastest speeds. Mid-band 5G networks have medium range, but they can still carry faster speeds than LTE.
T-Mobile’s Nationwide Extended Range 5G and Verizon’s 5G Nationwide networks are low-band 5G networks. Low-band 5G networks have the longest range of the three, but their speeds are only comparable to LTE. Carriers are working to improve data speeds on their low-band 5G networks.
As you might expect, you need a 5G-compatible phone to connect to a 5G network of any kind.
T-Mobile Essentials vs Verizon 5G Start plans
T-Mobile Magenta vs Verizon 5G Play More and 5G Do More plans
T-Mobile Magenta Max vs Verizon 5G Get More plans
Which is the best carrier for you: T-Mobile or Verizon?
T-Mobile offers the best value, most premium data, and fastest data speeds if you know for a fact that its networks cover your home region and the places you usually travel to. It’s also the best option if you often travel to Canada and/or Mexico, and the 210-plus Simple Global countries.
Verizon offers a decent amount of premium data in its Play More/Do More plans, but we don’t recommend the 5G Start plan. The lack of premium data and lack of access to Verizon’s fastest Ultra Wideband 5G network in the basic 5G Start plan is a red flag. Still, Verizon is the best option if you know T-Mobile’s coverage doesn’t reach certain areas you frequent, and Verizon has tempting media streaming subscription perks.
You’ve picked a carrier, now here are the best phones
Most mid-range and premium phones come with 5G connectivity, and they’ll make the most out of these unlimited data plans from either T-Mobile or Verizon.
We recommend the iPhone 13 as the best phone overall for most people, and Android users should take a good look at the Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus. Check out why and our other recommendation for the best phones you can buy in 2022.
Glossary of terms
4G LTE is often simply known as LTE, is a wireless network standard that carriers began introducing to the mainstream in 2010. It provides fast data speeds, but its limited capacity results in slower data speeds, especially in congested areas like major cities.
5G is the next generation of cellular networks, and it’s designed to be a major upgrade over 4G LTE. The main benefits of 5G include significantly higher capacity, faster data speeds, and lower latency.
Higher capacity means more devices can stream and load heavy-duty content without congestion.
Faster data speeds means you can stream and load higher quality photos, videos, and music.
Low latency results in a snappier, more immediate experience when browsing the web, loading content in apps, or playing multiplayer games.
low band 5G networks have the longest range of the three types, but their speeds are only comparable to LTE.
mid-band 5G networks, also known as “C-band,” have medium range, but they can still carry faster speeds than LTE.
high-band 5G networks, also known as millimeter wave (mmWave), have short range, but deliver the fastest speeds that can be even quicker than the average home’s internet speed, which is about 224 megabits per second (Mbps), according to Ookla’s Speedtest.
premium date: Both T-Mobile and Verizon have replaced the old “unlimited” data cap system with their “premium” data models. That means there’s no longer a data cap for unlimited data, where if you used a certain amount of data you would either get throttled to significantly slower speeds, or charged for extra data use.
Rather, the current “premium” data model means you get full-speed, unthrottled data up to a certain data cap. After you’ve used up all your premium data, you still get full-speed data, but your connection gets “deprioritized” and speeds can be throttled down when the carrier’s network is congested with high-traffic use.