AT&T vs T Mobile: Comparing the Pricing, Data Speed, Network

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If you’re on an MVNO service, chances are it’s either on Verizon, T-Mobile, or AT&T network infrastructure. But then, which would be a better major network to switch to between AT&T vs T Mobile.

Well, while there are a lot of things that define a wireless phone carrier here in the country, this article focuses on the six crucial aspects. And that includes features like coverage, data speeds, pricing, et cetera.

FYI: mobile virtual network operator (or MVNO) is a carrier running on a major provider like AT&T or T Mobile.

AT&T vs T Mobile: Summary Features & Capabilities of the Cell Phone Providers

FeatureAT&TT Mobile
Carrier NetworkAT&TT Mobile
5G Data Speeds1400+MbpsUp to 1100+Mbps
LTE Data Speeds300+Mbps300+Mbps
Lowest Phone Plan$25 (when paid yearly)$10
Unlimited MinutesYESYES
Unlimited dataYESYES
Family DiscountYESYES  
Free Mexico/ Canada CallYESYES
Mobile HotspotYESYES  
Video StreamingYESYES
Phone Unlock PeriodAfter 60 DaysAfter 40-365 Days
Extra PerksFree HBO Max™, Stadia Pro, AT&T ActiveArmorSM, & 100GB Cloud Storage  Free Netflix, Free Apple TV, Free Music Unlimited T-Mobile Tuesdays Offers  

Who Should Get AT&T Phone?

Anyone can get an AT&T phone. But if you tend to travel a lot, you’ll find the provider more convenient, thanks to its wide coverage.

When trying to compare Xfinity Mobile and AT&T the other day, we saw the GSM carrier is even in the Midwest region like Oregon. Then, you can also get off-net coverage (roaming) in areas where its network is weak or unavailable.

Who Should Get T Mobile Phone?

Are you looking for a way to cut down your phone bill? T Mobile is one of the options you can consider if looking for affordable phone service. And to make it even better, the carrier has recently introduced the old Connect prepaid as a new category with plans from as low as $10 per month.

Of course, all T-Mobile prepaid customers usually get deprioritized data as with Tello or Mint and other MVNOs from the carrier. But you could always switch over to the postpaid service, provided you have qualifying credit and won’t mind the extra cost.

AT&T vs T Mobile

AT&T vs T-Mobile: Comparing the Features & Perks of the Wireless Carriers

Network Coverage

When we compare AT&T vs T Mobile coverage, the former is definitely the winner from its extensive availability across the country. Of course, the coverage isn’t as good as with Verizon, but you can have a usable phone in many parts of Oregon and other Midwestern states.

If interested, you can check the AT&T coverage map to see if the carrier is available in your location. But the best way to test the service in your area would be with an eSIM activation on the cheapest plan from the operator.

You can also test if T-Mobile will be good in your area through an eSIM activation. But before you do that, you should know the carrier predominantly covers metropolises. Hence, the reason we said on the Xfinity vs T Mobile review you can get good service in Madison town but not in the downtowns.

Winner: AT&T as it’s available in most places across the country, including some rural places

Phone Promos & Offers

T Mobile is one of the few carriers you can get free phone deals for new customers with no trade-in required. The $0 device promos also extend to the existing customers who are willing to add a new line to their accounts. But in both cases, you must be a postpaid customer, plus you’ll mostly get entry-level or midrange phones.

If you want to upgrade to a high-end 5G iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, T-Mobile will now require an eligible trade-in. But that still beats AT&T that only gives a partial discount on the deals with no trade-in required.

Yes, indeed, AT&T also does have free phone deals you can grab. But you’ll need to have a qualifying trade-in device with no physical or technical issues.

Winner: T Mobile as it has free phone deals with/ without trade-in required

Network Roaming

Do you travel a lot? Whether your travels are for just pleasure or cover your line of work, our two carriers have all roaming services.

 If it’s AT&T, you can roam with your phone domestically at no cost (limits data usage to 100MB). The carrier also has free unlimited call, text, and data roaming in Canada, Mexico, plus other nineteen Latin American countries.

If these don’t cover your destination, AT&T has a $10/ day International Day Pass that offers access to unlimited everything. Then, you could also consider the pay-as-you-go international rates from as low as $1/ talk minute or 2.05/ MB of data.

If traveling by plane, AT&T charges the Airline roaming data rates at $10.24 per MB. And that, we can agree, is a little overdramatic, considering T Mobile Gogo in-flight program gives you unlimited WiFi and texting.

Further, select T Mobile rate plans give you a Simple Global pass with free unlimited texting and data roaming in over 210 destinations. Then, you also get unlimited talk, text, and 5GB of high-speed data roaming in Canada or Mexico for free.

Winner: T Mobile as it has more competitive international roaming perks and pay-per-use rates

5G/ LTE Data Speed

Do you browse a lot? If yes, you need a cellular phone with a good data speed for a better online experience. And as of this moment, either T-Mobile or AT&T will suffice.

In a recent test on T Mobile 5G, the download speed peaked at almost 1120Mbps, which is twice faster than earlier last year. And for those inaccessible to the high-band 5G spectrum, the LTE usually peaks at 300+Mbps or $30-90Mbps in weak areas.

Surprisingly, AT&T has been offering pretty similar data speeds in many areas around the country. But some parts will give you a slightly faster data speed reaching 1400+Mbps on the downloads.

Winner: AT&T has a relatively faster 5G speed in some parts across the country.

Phone Plans & Pricing

If you compared T Mobile vs AT&T rate plans a year ago, the two carriers had several similarities.

But now with the newest Connect by T Mobile plans, you can get the prepaid service from as low as $10 per month. Thus, bettering even most of its MVNOs, which is something I’m pretty sure they’re not happy about.

Nonetheless, the T Mobile Simply plans are still the only prepaid services with most of the perks in the postpaid category. And that includes multi-line discounts, uncapped unlimited data, international roaming, et cetera. See below.

Chart 2.1 T-Mobile Phone plan Structure

Features10GB (Simply)Unlimited (Simply)Unlimited+ (Simply)Essentials (postpaid)Magenta (postpaid)Magenta MAX
Regular Price$40/ mo. (before tax)$50/ mo. (before tax)$60/ mo. (before tax)$60/ mo. (before tax)$70/ mo. (after tax)$85/ mo. (after tax)
Multi-Line Discounts$5 – $8 (2-5 lines)$10 – $16 (2-5 lines)$15 – $24 (2-5 lines)$15 – $36 (2-5 lines)$10 – $38 (2-5 lines)$15 – $45 (2-5 lines)
Talk MinutesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Text MessagesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
High-Speed Data10GBUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Priority DataN/A50GB50GB50GB100GBUnlimited
Premium Hotspot Data10GBUnlimited (3G speeds)10GB (then 3G)Unlimited (3G speeds)5GB (then 3G)40GB (then 3G)
Video Stream QualityUp to HDUp to 480pUp to 480pUp to 480pUp to 480pUp to 4K UHD
International TextingN/AN/AN/AUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Free Canada/ Mexico DataNO ($5/ mo.)NO ($5/ mo.)NO ($5/ mo.)2G Data Speeds5GB LTE (then 2G)5GB LTE (then 2G)
Free Netflix subscriptionN/AN/AN/ANOYES (on 2+ lines)YES
Apple TV+ ( for one year)N/AN/AN/ANOYESYES
Paramount+ (for one year)N/AN/AN/AYESYESYES

Chart 2.2: AT&T phone plan structure

Features5GB Plan (Prepaid)8GB Plan (Prepaid)Unlimited (Prepaid)Unlimited StarterUnlimited ExtraUnlimited Elite
Regular Price (before tax)$30/ mo.$25/ mo.$50/ mo.$65/ mo.$75/ mo.$85/ mo.
Multiple-Line Discount$10-$20N/A$10-$20$5-$35$10-$40$10-$40
Talk MinutesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Text MessagesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
High-Speed Data5GB8GBUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Priority DataN/AN/A22GB22GB50GBUnlimited
128kbps DataUnlimitedUnlimitedN/AN/AN/AN/A
Mobile HotspotYESYESAdd-On (5GB/ $10)3GB15GB40GB
Video StreamingHD Quality (1080p)HD Quality (1080p)HD Quality (1080p)HD Quality (1080p)HD Quality (1080p)4K Quality (2160p)
Free roaming in Canada/ MexicoYESYESYESYESYESYES
Free roaming in Latin AmericaNONONONONOYES
Free HBO Max subscriptionNONONONONOYES

In the first chart, you’ll notice the T Mobile postpaid plans has the best perks in general. But then, you must have a qualifying credit to get either, plus a thicker wallet as the pricing is a little higher.

Of course, you’ll get to save a few bucks on the multi-line/ family discount. But it’s not all of us will require to have multiple lines in our accounts. So, you’ll have to either pay the expensive rate or opt for the prepaid service that’s cheaper plans.

Similarly, the AT&T prepaid service is cheaper than the postpaid category. But in the second chart above, you’ll notice the postpaid plans include more perks, especially the premium Unlimited Elite where you can have free roaming in Latin America and an HBO subscription.

Winner: T Mobile as it’s relatively cheaper on most postpaid and prepaid phone plans

Deprioritization & Throttling

Both AT&T and T Mobile win here as you’ll get the postpaid plans with priority data that doesn’t slow down even during congestion. The carriers also have the postpaid service and some prepaid plans with un-throttled data (unlimited with no cap).

But that said, do know AT&T and T Mobile offers prepaid plans with deprioritized data (data speed temporarily slowed down during congestion). So, you might want to have a 5G-capable device if you want to have a usable service while in congested/ remote areas.

Winner: Both carriers as the postpaid plans have priority data and no throttling

Common Related Questions:

Is it worth switching to T-Mobile from AT&T?

Is the coverage good enough in your area? If yes and you don’t travel a lot, then it’s worth switching to T-Mobile from AT&T. The carrier’s not only cheaper but also you’ll have access to plenty of free phone deals with no trade-in required.

Is T-Mobile better than AT&T?

Well, we can agree T-Mobile is better than AT&T in the pricing and phone deals. It also has the best international perks, including free data roaming in 210+ destinations and while on Gogo-enabled flights. But even then, do note AT&T has relatively better 5G data speed and coverage across the country than T-Mobile.

Is AT&T faster than T-Mobile?

Yes, indeed, AT&T is relatively faster than T-Mobile on 5G data in various parts across the country. However, the LTE data speeds are pretty much similar for the two carriers, where a high-modem iPhone or Android can record over 300Mbps on downloads.

Do AT&T and T-Mobile use the same towers?

No, AT&T and T-Mobile don’t run on the same towers since they’re major carriers with individual network infrastructure. However, the two do support domestic and international roaming, where you might notice they have agreements on the same off-net partners.

What’s the worst cell phone carrier?

Typically, I’ll not say there’s a worse cell phone carrier since it all depends on the features in question. For instance, in our case, T-Mobile is the worst carrier in rural coverage as it predominantly focuses on metropolises. Then, AT&T is the worst provider on the free phone deals as it requires an eligible trade-in in all promos.

Final Thoughts

At this point, we can all agree it’s not easy to decide between AT&T and T Mobile. The two have mixed convenience, whereby one leads here, but then the other stands out in the next area.

Anyhow, AT&T fits my line of work better from the extensive coverage across the country and faster data speeds.

But T-Mobile prepaid rates are now cheaper than AT&T and most sub-carriers. So, you can consider it if trying to cut down your phone bill, considering your location has stellar coverage.