When you’re deciding on which carrier to switch to, it’s important to compare your options, and it’s only natural to pin AT&T and Verizon head-to-head—they’re two major powerhouses in the cell phone game today. When comparing AT&T vs. Verizon, Verizon boasts the most robust network coverage, while AT&T’s network is hot on Verizon’s heels. Both carriers offer plans on the pricier side, and Verizon’s unlimited plans tend to include more perks, such as Apple Music and Disney+. Only AT&T’s most expensive unlimited plan includes an entertainment perk—HBO. Want to know which unlimited plan is the best? Jump ahead to our Let’s Talk Editor’s Pick.
- 4G network covers 68% of the country
- High data deprioritization thresholds
- Fastest download speeds
- Discounts for military and first responders
- Big prepaid discounts with AutoPay
- Pricy unlimited plans (compared to other carriers)
- Limited entertainment features
- No senior discounts
- 4G network covers 70% of the nation
- Solid entertainment perks
- Mix and match family plans
- Generally cheaper prepaid options
- Discounts for first responders, teachers, nurses, military, and seniors
- The most expensive unlimited plans on the market
- Verizon’s senior plan discount is only offered to Florida residents
Compare AT&T Plans & Verizon Plans
AT&T and Verizon’s unlimited plan prices are fairly comparable, with Verizon’s premium unlimited plan—Get More Unlimited—costing $5/month more than AT&T’s premium plan—AT&T Unlimited Elite. AT&T and Verizon have a lot in common, such as they both offer:
- Different tiers of unlimited plans
- Military and first responder discounts.
- Postpaid and prepaid plans.
Major differences include:
- AT&T offers prepaid yearly plans and pay-as-you-go plans.
- Verizon allows you to mix and match your unlimited family plan.
- Verizon offers discounts for a larger range of careers (teachers, nurses, military, etc.).
AT&T vs. Verizon Coverage
AT&T’s 4G LTE network covers 68% of the U.S., while Verizon’s touts 70% coverage. While both networks are incredibly robust, there are still some pockets with spotty coverage. For example, AT&T only covers 11% of Alaska and also has sub-part coverage in parts of Maine, Wyoming, Nevada, and Arizona.
As for Verizon, there are some spotty areas in parts of Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and Oklahoma. Check out AT&T vs. Verizon’s coverage maps below to get a better overview of which areas are covered.
AT&T Coverage Map
It’s important to note that AT&T’s coverage map also applies to AT&T’s MVNOs, such as Cricket Wireless, FreeUP Mobile, Good2Go Mobile, and more.
Verizon Coverage Map
Verizon’s coverage map also applies to the MVNOs that run on its powerful network—Verizon MVNOs include Visible, Credo Mobile, GreatCall, Page Plus, and beyond.
Data Speeds Compared
Let’s take a look at AT&T vs. Verizon data speeds. Both carriers have powerful networks that will provide you with great coverage and reliability, although there are some important distinctions.
According to Open Signal, AT&T has faster download speeds, averaging 27.5Mbps to Verizon’s 25.3Mbps. Download speeds are important for activities like scrolling through Instagram or Twitter, browsing the internet, streaming TV and movies, and downloading and streaming music. 27.5Mbps is fast enough to play games on your phone or stream video in HD.
AT&T also has a lower latency period, meaning it has a quicker network response time than Verizon. High latency periods, or lag, result in frustrating network delays, which can disrupt streaming, gaming, and video calls. AT&T’s latency averages 49.7 milliseconds while Verizon’s is about 56.4 milliseconds. Despite the difference, both of these latency periods are fine for everything you’ll want to do—generally, under 100 milliseconds will suffice, but 20-40 milliseconds will result in an optimal gaming experience.
Conversely, Verizon has a higher video experience (58.8) rating than AT&T (51.9). Open Signal’s video experience measure includes factors, such as:
- Consistency of connections
- Overall network capacity
Some carriers choose to restrict video resolution or throttle (i.e., slow down) video traffic in order to maintain quality speeds for other activities, but Verizon appears to have found a great balance between providing a solid video experience alongside good network speeds and latency for other online activities.
AT&T vs. Verizon Unlimited Plans
AT&T and Verizon’s postpaid unlimited plans are among some of the most expensive plans on the wireless market, while their prepaid unlimited plans are a bit more affordable. Choosing which carrier’s unlimited plan is right for you will come down to coverage, plan features, and price.
Prepaid Unlimited Plans
If you’re looking for an affordable unlimited plan, AT&T’s Prepaid $75 Monthly Plan may be the way to go—when you enroll with AutoPay, the price drops to $50/month, saving you $25/month or $300/year. And AT&T doesn’t even skimp you on perks, either, with 10GB of hotspot and Mexico and Canada privileges. Conversely, Verizon’s prepaid unlimited option costs $65/month with AutoPay, which is far more expensive than AT&T’s and only $5 cheaper per month than Verizon’s first-tier postpaid unlimited plan.
Postpaid Unlimited Plans
AT&T offers three postpaid unlimited plans—AT&T Unlimited Starter, Unlimited Extra, and Unlimited Elite—while Verizon offers four—Start Unlimited, Play More Unlimited, Do More Unlimited, and Get More Unlimited. AT&T’s postpaid unlimited plans run a few dollars cheaper than their Verizon competitor plan, but Verizon’s larger selection allows you to choose an unlimited plan more catered to your smartphone habits.
One thing you may want to consider when choosing an unlimited plan is what kind of international perks it includes, especially if you frequently travel over the border. All AT&T unlimited plans include the following travel features:
- Unlimited texts to 120+ countries
- Unlimited talk, text, and data in Mexico & Canada (data may be 2G speeds)
All Verizon unlimited plans include:
- Unlimited texts to 200+ countries
- Unlimited talk & text, .5GB/day of 4G data (then slowed to 2G)
Since the postpaid unlimited plans’ features and prices vary so greatly from tier to tier, we decided to compare AT&T and Verizon’s unlimited plans from each tier.
AT&T Unlimited Starter vs. Verizon Start Unlimited
As you can see below, AT&T’s Unlimited Starter plan is pretty much a bare-bones unlimited plan that doesn’t come with any fun features or perks, while Verizon’s includes Apple Music and Disney+. On both plans you may temporarily experience slowed data speeds due to network congestion, which isn’t really anyone’s favorite.
|AT&T Unlimited Starter
|Verizon Start Unlimited
|Apple Music (6 months), Disney+ (1 year)
AT&T Unlimited Extra vs. Verizon Do More & Play More Unlimited
AT&T only has one mid-tier unlimited plan option compared to Verizon’s two. AT&T’s Unlimited Extra plan has a high data deprioritization, which is great if you plan on using your phone for streaming or gaming, but keep in mind, this plan still doesn’t include any cool entertainment features. Verizon is the clear winner here for entertainment. Also, all three mid-tier plans include 15GB of high-speed hotspot, but AT&T’s slows to a glacial 128Kbps once you’ve used up that 15GB allotment whereas Verizon’s slows to 600Kbps, which is actually useable.
|4G LTE Hotspot
|AT&T Unlimited Extra
|Verizon Do More Unlimited
|Apple Music (6 months), Disney+ (1 year)
|500GB Cloud Storage
|Verizon Play More Unlimited
|Apple Music, Disney+ (1 year)
AT&T Unlimited Elite vs. Verizon Get More Unlimited
On AT&T’s top tier plan, Unlimited Elite, you get:
- A free HBO subscription ($15/month value)
- HD video quality
- A sweet hotspot allowance
- A humongous data deprioritization threshold of 100GB
The nice thing about HBO with AT&T’s plan is that the subscription is valid for as long as you’re on the plan. Conversely, Verizon only gives you Disney+ for a year, even on its pricy top tier plan; however, you do get Apple Music indefinitely.
|4G LTE Hotspot
|AT&T Unlimited Elite
|Verizon Get More Unlimited
|Apple Music, Disney+ (1 year)
|HD video, 500GB Cloud Storage
Let’s Talk Editor’s Pick: Verizon Do More Unlimited
Our pick for the best of the bunch is Verizon’s $80 Do More Unlimited plan. With a 50GB data deprioritization threshold, 500GB of Cloud Storage, Disney+, Apple Music, and 15GB of high-speed mobile hotspot, this plan has the perfect balance of price, features, and coverage.
Compare AT&T & Verizon Family Plans
No matter which carrier you go with, signing up for a family plan is a smart way to save money on your phone bill. As with the unlimited plans, AT&T and Verizon’s family plan prices and features are pretty comparable, but Verizon’s edge out AT&T just slightly.
AT&T and Verizon both offer a variety of family plans, from prepaid to unlimited to limited data. One major difference between the two is that Verizon offers a mix and match capability for all unlimited plans, whereas AT&T only offers this option on its prepaid family plans.
AT&T offers a wide variety of family plans, including unlimited, limited data, as well as prepaid, which gives you the option of mixing and matching so that everyone can have exactly what they need.
One notable feature to call out about Verizon family plans is that you can add a Just Kids line onto a family plan (first line must be unlimited). The Just Kids line includes 5GB of data and highly customizable parental controls.
Compare AT&T & Verizon Phones
AT&T and Verizon both sell the latest and greatest smartphones from popular brands, such as Google, Samsung, Apple, LG, and more. The availability of older models varies slightly between carriers, but not enough to really notice. Through both AT&T and Verizon, you can either buy your device outright or buy it on monthly installments.
Looking to buy a new phone? Check out our list of the best cell phone deals, which we update weekly.
Monthly Device Installment Plans
A phone payment plan is a helpful way to reduce the financial burden of buying a new phone. Instead of paying the full retail price upfront, the retail price is split into smaller, more manageable payments, which you pay over a predetermined set of time. AT&T and Verizon’s monthly device installment plans differ in installment term length and number of options.
AT&T offers two monthly device installment plans:
- AT&T Installment Plan: 30-month installment term, no early upgrade.
- AT&T Next Up: 30-month installment term, an extra $5/month to upgrade after you pay off half the phone’s retail price (must trade in your device)
Verizon offers one monthly device payment plan:
- 24-month installment period
Both AT&T and Verizon offer excellent deals on new and old devices alike. It can be difficult to keep up with these ever-changing promotions, which is why we’ve done the dirty work for you. Although both carriers consistently have great promotions, Verizon generally offers more deals to existing customers compared to other carriers, including AT&T. Most of the deals across all carriers are only available for new customers, but Verizon also offers some deals for existing customers who upgrade (although the discount typically isn’t as big as it is for new customers). While AT&T also offers some deals for existing customers, that isn’t always the case.
Another benefit of Verizon phone deals is that you only have to stay with the carrier for 24 months to get the full discount, whereas with AT&T, you’re usually stuck with them for 30 months.