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AT&T vs Verizon: Which carrier is right for you?

You only need one mobile carrier, so why not decide between two of the best around?
By
October 3, 2022
Verizon Wireless logo stock image 8
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

We’re big on rivalries here at Android Authority — look at Sony vs Bose and Netflix vs Hulu. Two competitors trading blows to make each other better over time. Mobile carriers have rivalries too, and one reigns supreme over them all: Big Blue vs Big Red. You may be struggling to choose one over the other, so we’re going to pit AT&T vs Verizon to help you out.

See also: Verizon buyer’s guide | AT&T buyer’s guide

It’s not enough to look at plans, prices, or simply a selection of phones. We’re going to go category by category and get to the heart of each carrier. Ready to choose your next carrier? Let’s dig in!

AT&T vs Verizon — Pricing

ATT logo stock image 2
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

It’s impossible to ignore that Verizon is pretty much the most expensive American carrier on the market. You can usually expect to pay about $5 more per line for service, especially for higher-level unlimited plans. The easiest way to stack the prices against each other is with our handy table below:

AT&T CostsVerizon Costs
Entry-level unlimited plan
AT&T Costs
Unlimited Starter
$65 for one line
$60 per line for two lines
$45 per line for three lines
$35 per line for four lines
Verizon Costs
5G Start
$70 for one line
$60 per line for two lines
$45 per line for three lines
$35 per line for four lines
Mid-level unlimited plan
AT&T Costs
Unlimited Extra
$75 for one line
$65 per line for two lines
$50 per line for three lines
$40 per line for four lines
Verizon Costs
5G Play / Do More
$80 for one line
$70 per line for two lines
$55 per line for three lines
$45 per line for four lines
High-end unlimited plan
AT&T Costs
Unlimited Premium
$85 for one line
$75 per line for two lines
$60 per line for three lines
$50 per line for four lines
Verizon Costs
5G Get More
$90 for one line
$80 per line for two lines
$65 per line for three lines
$55 per line for four lines

As you can see, the entry-level unlimited plans are essentially a wash. As soon as you hit two or more lines, you’ll pay the same price. However, both the 5G Play More and Do More plans from Verizon are more expensive than AT&T’s Unlimited Extra plan. The premium network access is identical from both carriers at 50GB, including 5G access. AT&T also offers 15GB of hotspot on its mid-level unlimited plan, but Verizon boosts that number to 25GB.

The only real way to set the two apart is the added perks that come with your plan. We’ll touch on those a bit later when we dive into the promotions available for AT&T and Verizon.

If you’re going to splurge on a high-end service plan, the choice doesn’t get any easier. Verizon still reigns supreme in terms of perks, though AT&T’s Unlimited premium upgrades your streaming quality to 4K. Both carriers offer an impressive 50GB of hotspot access, as well as unlimited premium data that can’t be slowed down.

Big Red also offers a brand-new One Unlimited for iPhone plan. It’s priced along the lines of the 5G Get More plan, kicking off at $90 per line. However, if you transfer one of your lines to the Apple-centric plan, all of your lines will follow suit.

Of course, you can save some money and access either carrier through an MVNO. There are a few tradeoffs to consider, but here are some options to look into:

AT&T vs Verizon — Coverage

Both carriers can claim to have the most extensive coverage area in the United States — but it depends on what network you’re looking for. AT&T boasted the largest 3G network, though it’s been retired in favor of wide-reaching 4G LTE coverage. Verizon, on the other hand, has had a lead in 4G LTE for a number of years. Both are still important for customers who live outside of major cities, though there are now faster options for some users.

If you turn your attention to each carrier’s 5G access, you’ll find that speed and availability is once again the name of the game. Verizon employs a high-speed mmWave network for its high-end 5G coverage, which is lightning fast but offers a limited range. Big Red now has a more accessible Nationwide 5G network to fill in the gaps, too. AT&T, on the other hand, relies mainly on a low-band network that stretches across far more of the country, even if it doesn’t reach the same speeds.

See also: Where is 5G available in the US?

You have a look at AT&T’s coverage map below and immediately see where its 4G LTE and 5G access are available, but it’s a bit trickier with Verizon. You’ll have to get up close and personal with street-by-street maps if you want the fastest mmWave coverage. However, you can see Verizon’s new Nationwide 5G network right here.

Here’s the AT&T coverage map:

AT&T vs Verizon — Perks and promotions

Disney Plus animated movies section stock photo

Network access is only part of the battle when choosing a new mobile carrier — a great plan isn’t complete without solid perks and promos. If you have your heart set on streaming options, Verizon offers a clear advantage. Here’s a quick table to show you what each carrier offers:

PlanVideo PerksMusic PerksOther Perks
Plan
AT&T Unlimited Starter
Video Perks
None
Music Perks
None
Other Perks
None
Plan
AT&T Unlimited Extra
Video Perks
None
Music Perks
None
Other Perks
None
Plan
AT&T Unlimited Premium
Video Perks
None for new customers
HBO Max for existing Unlimited Elite customers
Music Perks
None
Other Perks
None
Plan
Verizon 5G Start
Video Perks
6 months of Disney Plus, Apple Arcade, or Google Play Pass
Music Perks
6 months of Apple Music
Other Perks
None
Plan
Verizon 5G Play More
Video Perks
Disney Plus, Hulu, and ESPN Plus included
Music Perks
6 months of Apple Music
Other Perks
Apple Arcade or Google Play Pass
Plan
Verizon 5G Do More
Video Perks
6 months of Disney Plus, Apple Arcade, or Google Play Pass
Music Perks
6 months of Apple Music
Other Perks
Up to 50% off a watch, tablet, or hotspot plan
1 TravelPass day per month
600GB cloud storage

Plan
Verizon 5G Get More
Video Perks
Disney Plus, Hulu, and ESPN Plus included
Music Perks
Apple Music included
Other Perks
Up to 50% off a watch, tablet, or hotspot plan
1 TravelPass day per month
600GB cloud storage

Each of its unlimited plans includes a Disney Plus membership, with the 5G Play More and Get More options adding Hulu and ESPN Plus to the mix. Beyond video streaming, Verizon offers six months of Apple Music on its Start Unlimited, Play More, and Do More plans. If you splurge on the 5G Get More plan, you’ll get Apple Music for the life of your plan. You can even choose between an Apple Arcade trial or a test run of Google’s Play Pass.

If you’re all-in on Apple services, One Unlimited for iPhone is the way to go at Verizon. It packs Apple TV Plus, Apple Music, iCloud Plus, and Apple Arcade under one umbrella. As mentioned, it applies to all of your lines, so make sure you’re ready to move your music from Spotify if you switch.

See also: The best Music streaming apps for Android

AT&T tells the opposite story. It used to offer six months of Stadia Pro on all plans and HBO Max on Unlimited Elite, but both perks are gone. Stadia is shutting down, and HBO Max is under new management, though it’s still available for existing customers.

Both carriers offer a pretty solid selection of promos, though you’ll mainly be saving on new devices rather than plans. For example, right now, you can get up to $800 off a powerful Google Pixel 6 Pro on Verizon when you trade and upgrade your device. Alternatively, many Verizon phones, like the Galaxy A03s, are free when you add a line.

Many of AT&T’s deals hack $700 or more off the price of a new phone with your trade-in. Even better, you don’t have to be a new customer to get the best discounts from Big Blue.

AT&T vs Verizon — Phone selection

iphone 14 pro vs galaxy s22 plus camera close up
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Carrier-exclusive phones aren’t what they once were. Many of the leading US carriers offer nearly identical lists of devices, and sometimes the only difference is whether the phone relies on GSM or CDMA. AT&T and Verizon are no exceptions to this rule, but Big Red exclusively offers a good variety of Motorola phones, like the folding Razr.

See also: Best Verizon phones | Best AT&T phones

As we mentioned before, the GSM and CDMA divide is one of the main differences between AT&T and Verizon. Big Red falls on the CDMA side while AT&T holds down the GSM camp. GSM is the newer technology, and it’s more common than CDMA, which can be great if you travel abroad often.

Which carrier is right for you?

Finally, the million-dollar question in the battle of AT&T vs Verizon — which one is right for you? The short answer is that it depends. If you have a decent budget and want the largest 4G LTE network, go for Verizon. You might also turn to Big Red if you have an affinity for Motorola phones like the Razr. However, if you want better flexibility to switch devices, then AT&T is the right pick.

Ultimately, we can’t tell you which network to pick — and maybe neither one is the right option. If that’s the case, you might want to take a peek at a few of our other carrier guides for more options: