Best Wireless Carrier 2015 (Archive)

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Dominimmiv

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Sep 24, 2015
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Alhough T Mobile came out on top using Galaxy S5 devices for the test they dont give the best service for T Mobile since they do not have Band 12; which is required for the "extended LTE". T Mobile would be even stronger if you used aa current model phone with all their bands.
 

jW4yner

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Sep 24, 2015
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I'm not quite understanding how the performance can be different when it comes to T-Mobile and Metro PCS, Sprint and Boost as well as AT&T and Cricket, they use the same networks so that doesn't make a lot of sense.
 

Decay1

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Sep 24, 2015
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Project Fi is bar none the best carrier in the USA. Your tests only confirm this. T-Mobile and Sprint networks, Google customer service, great prices, no commitment plans, no extra charge for international and tethered data. Only thing lacking is phone selection, but Nexus 6 is the best any way.

Why you no include Project Fi in shoot out? Other MVNOs were tested.
 

the_saltminer

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Sep 24, 2015
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Decay1: Are you serious? Project Fi isn't available to the general public, it's invite only. And only one phone, the Nexus 6? C'mon.
 

Decay1

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Sep 24, 2015
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I am quite serious. It is the best, and expect phone selection to improve next week with the announcement of the new Nexus phones. My bill went from $87 on Sprint unlimited to around $35 monthly on tiered data.
 

727stretch

Distinguished
Nov 8, 2008
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Seriously... are the authors high? T-Mobile has awful coverage anywhere outside of a major city. Their customer support - although friendly - is poorly trained and not able to resolve issues of even a moderate complexity. Their customer relations never responds to issues. They are awful. And cricket at the bottom? If you bring your own phone, cricket is great. Personally, for what I do on a phone, I don't notice much difference between 8 and 20mbps, so blazing fast speed is irrelevant. Their service sucks but their prices are excellent. The rest of the stuff in the middle makes sense. But please - T-Mobile absolutely does not belong at the top of any comparison. I have lost respect for Tom's after reading this.
 

beingbenjamin

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Jun 8, 2015
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I appreciate the investment of all the writers who contributed to this article. I found it a very interesting read, all the way through each "more" article. This is great stuff to help consumers make informed decisions.
 
Sep 25, 2015
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Wow. How off a review can be. T-Mobile's coverage is generally solid in urban areas, but drops off outside those urban areas. I review phones and service in the midwest and even in Chicago and the Chicago suburbs T-Mobile's coverage is spotty. Strong, then drops off, strong, then drops off. Or in the case of my neighborhood well outside of Cook County, IL, no signal at all. Decent customer service and "all you can eat data" doesn't really do you any good if the service doesn't work where you work and live. If you don't travel much, and T-Mobile works where you live and work, great. But if you travel quite a bit, I'd think twice about going with T-Mobile.

In T-Mobile's defense it has supported Wi-Fi calling for sometime, and has even expanded it to non-phone devices from Apple. More on that here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203032.

As far as your review of Cricket goes: I suggest you try again. Cricket now uses AT&T's network, so coverage is great. Solid voice and data coverage, at least in the midwest. Uninterrupted voice and uninterrupted 4G LTE coverage from Lake Michigan in Chicago west to the Illinois-Iowa border. You can't say that for T-Mobile. No, Cricket's LTE speeds can't match T-Mobile's speeds. This is likely to due to two reasons: Cricket throttles upload and download speeds and it piggy backs on the AT&T network which historically has seen much more data usage due to its long-time alliance with Apple and iPhone users who hog up most of the 4G data bandwidth in the US.

I'm not basing my opinions on single phone or service either. I have and support many cell phone devices. I currently pay for service to: US Cellular, AT&T, Verizon and Cricket. I have also had service through Sprint and StraightTalk. I have family with the iPhone 6 through T-Mobile. I have recently reviewed or used: iPhone 6, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, Google/Motorola Nexus 6, LG Flex 2, Samsung S6 Edge, and a Moto G 4G LTE (2014), in addition to two LG and Samsung flip phones and a wireless phone base station.

If you are an average user reading these reviews: ignore the reviews. Test the carriers yourself. Don't be afraid to return your phone in the week or two you are allowed to test it. If your new phone and service doesn't work, return the phone and cancel the service and try another service.

 

PhilipMichaels

Estimable
Oct 1, 2014
1,114
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5,240
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I'm not quite understanding how the performance can be different when it comes to T-Mobile and Metro PCS, Sprint and Boost as well as AT&T and Cricket, they use the same networks so that doesn't make a lot of sense.
The major carriers typically prioritize their own traffic on the network -- in other words, if T-Mobile's network is very busy, then T-Mobile phones get priority over MetroPCS. It's a tradeoff you make when you go with a discount carrier. In some cases -- Cricket and AT&T for example -- that tradeoff is substantial.

We addressed this more fully in this article: http://www.tomsguide.com/us/prepaid-carrier-performance,news-21331.html
 

PhilipMichaels

Estimable
Oct 1, 2014
1,114
2
5,240
1
Alhough T Mobile came out on top using Galaxy S5 devices for the test they dont give the best service for T Mobile since they do not have Band 12; which is required for the "extended LTE". T Mobile would be even stronger if you used aa current model phone with all their bands.
We felt that the Galaxy S5 was supported by the broadest range of carriers when we began testing. The next round of testing will likely feature a more recent phone.
 

PhilipMichaels

Estimable
Oct 1, 2014
1,114
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5,240
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Why you no include Project Fi in shoot out? Other MVNOs were tested.
Project Fi availability was simply too limited at this time to include it in this comparison. Since we plan to update this guide in the future, we'll consider including Project Fi then if it becomes a more widely available option for people.
 

PhilipMichaels

Estimable
Oct 1, 2014
1,114
2
5,240
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Seriously... are the authors high?
T-Mobile has awful coverage anywhere outside of a major city.
We noted this particular shortcoming in the article.

Their customer support - although friendly - is poorly trained and not able to resolve issues of even a moderate complexity. Their customer relations never responds to issues. They are awful.
This was not our experience in our testing.

And cricket at the bottom? If you bring your own phone, cricket is great.
This, too, was noted in the article.

Personally, for what I do on a phone, I don't notice much difference between 8 and 20mbps, so blazing fast speed is irrelevant.
That is a value judgment you are free to make. Other people prize performance and the weighting of our grades reflects that.

Their service sucks but their prices are excellent.
MetroPCS and Boost prices are also excellent and their network performance was better than Cricket's; hence, we rated them higher.

I have lost respect for Tom's after reading this.
I will try to soldier on.
 

Ixalmida

Estimable
Sep 25, 2015
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4,510
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Great info, but this article completely missed the metric that is most important to me right now - price. My Project Fi phone bill was $27.50 last month with 1.2 GB data usage. It might have been even less on Republic (which also offers less expensive phones - but I also wanted more CPU power). I also live and work in spotty coverage areas, so making calls over WiFi is critical for me and these carriers shine in that respect.
 
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