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T-Mobile vs. Verizon Review 2021
The two wireless heavyweights step into the ring.
Verizon and T-Mobile both pack a punch when it comes to coverage, data speeds, and awesome perks. But, spoiler alert, neither company is going to deliver a knockout in this fight. Verizon has the best coverage in the country, but T-Mobile has faster data speeds.
So instead of declaring a winner between the two, we’ll go through T-Mobile's and Verizon’s plans, performance, and perks to highlight what they do well (and not so well). That way you can choose the plan that’s best for you.
The Big Three mobile carriers—AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon—are all offering great trade-in deals right now. That means you can get $700 or more off select smartphones like the iPhone 12 when you trade in your old device.
Meanwhile, smaller MVNO carriers like Mint Mobile and Visible Wireless are offering $50 virtual gift cards or discounts on select phones to entice new customers interested in more budget-friendly smartphones like the iPhone SE (2020) or Google Pixel series.
Find these and other offers in our monthly roundup of the best cell phone deals.
A bird’s-eye view of T-Mobile and Verizon wireless plans
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty details, take a look at all the Verizon and T-Mobile plans available to you. There’s a lot of them, but don’t get overwhelmed: we’ll go over it all in this review.
Verizon and T-Mobile cell phone plans
You’ll notice that Verizon offers way more plans than T-Mobile overall. That’s because T-Mobile offers only one plan that’s not unlimited data.
Although unlimited data plans seem to be the future of wireless service, it may still be overkill for some users (like your kids or your parents). If you know you aren’t an unlimited-data kind of user, then you might want to go with Verizon or check out these cheaper plans.
Let’s dive deeper into these plans.
Verizon vs. T-Mobile pricing and plans
Let’s start this comparison with the cheap stuff and work our way up.
If you’re looking for a no-data, no-frills talk and text plan, then T-Mobile has you covered for just $20 a month. But if you want a limited data plan, with anywhere from 500 MB to 5 GB of data, then Verizon has a few options starting at $30 a month.
Verizon vs. T-Mobile cheap plan comparison
But let’s move on to the main event, the star of the show, the feature picture: unlimited plans. Here’s a look at what Verizon and T-Mobile are serving up for all you data hogs.
Unlimited talk and text come included with most cell phone plans—what you pay for your cell phone plan will largely depend on data. Check out our data guide and make sure you don’t pay for too much data (or too little).
Verizon vs. T-Mobile unlimited pricing
T-Mobile offers a cheaper unlimited plan, but is it better?
T-Mobile vs. Verizon unlimited data plan comparison
T-Mobile takes the prize for most affordable unlimited plan with its $60 Essentials plan. This plan offers a cheap(ish) way to get unlimited talk, text, and data from one of the country’s most robust wireless networks.
The biggest downside to this plan is that your data can be deprioritized during times of congestion. Basically, that means the company will slow down your speeds to give service to more important customers (i.e., people who give them more money).
If you want to be one of those people who give T-Mobile more money ($10 more) to get full speeds all the time, then you can get the Magenta plan.
T-Mobile Magenta plan
The $70 Magenta plan comes with some extra perks, like international texting, in-flight service, and 5G access (if you’ve got the right device). But before you jump on the T-Mobile bandwagon, check out Verizon’s unlimited plan that runs at the same price.
Start Unlimited Plan from Verizon
As with T-Mobile’s cheapest unlimited plan, Start Unlimited customers can experience data deprioritization when the network is busy. And for the record, we think that’s pretty bogus for a $70 plan.
But Verizon tries to make up for deprioritization with some perks, like free subscriptions to Disney+ and Apple Music. Not to mention that Verizon operates the best mobile network in the country (we’ll talk about that more in a minute).
When you start looking at the higher-tiered plans from Verizon and T-Mobile, the main benefits you find are increased high-speed data caps and better streaming quality.
Both Verizon’s Get More Unlmited and T-Mobile’s Magenta Plus plans will give you HD video streaming.
But Verizon is the clear winner when it comes to the high-speed data cap, offering an incredible 75 GB of data before throttling. Compare that to T-Mobile's 50 GB, and you’ll see why some people pay a few extra bucks for the Get More Unlimited Plan.
Verizon Get More Unlimited Plan
Verizon vs. T-Mobile data speeds
T-Mobile offers the fastest wireless upload and download speeds of any major network. We sampled tens of thousands of wireless users and T-Mobile averages a 32.7 Mbps download speed and 12.9 Mbps upload speed. Verizon, on the other hand, averages a 32.2 Mbps download speed and 10.0 Mbps upload speed.
So what does all that mean? Basically, you can expect a faster internet experience in every sense of the word on T-Mobile. Faster download speeds allow you get Google results faster, refresh Twitter and Instagram more quickly, and stream more smoothly. Faster upload speeds means you can upload your Instagram stories, Tweets, and TikTok videos more quickly. All of these internet things we do should be faster on T-Mobile than on Verizon's network.
Data caps refer to how much data you can use in a given month before your speeds start to slow down. (Maybe there’s no such thing as truly unlimited, except for maybe Visible Wireless.) Here’s how the data caps break down between the two providers:
- T-Mobile plans have a 50 GB data cap.
- Verizon plans range from 25 GB (Play More Unlimited Plan) to 75 GB (Get More Unlimited plan).
If you frequently stream on the go or obsessively play Hearthstone (like my fellow writer here at Reviews.org does), you’ll run through data pretty quickly. Having a higher data cap means you can expect the same speeds for a longer amount of time.
Verizon vs. T-Mobile coverage
Coverage matters a ton, and Verizon leads the wireless pack. WhistleOut reports that Verizon’s 4G coverage has reached 70% of the nation, while T-Mobile comes second with 59% 4G coverage.1
Let’s compare the coverage maps for Verizon and T-Mobile to see just where the two differ.
Verizon coverage map
T-Mobile coverage map
Suddenly that 11% difference between Verizon's and T-Mobile's coverage areas makes a big difference, right? Especially for those of you living in Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nevada, or Arizona.
If you happen to live in one of those states, you’ll enjoy much more reliable coverage with Verizon’s network than you would with T-Mobile’s network.
Verizon wins the coverage battle over T-Mobile’s network, but then again, Verizon wins the coverage battle against every provider. Expect reliable coverage with either carrier, but Verizon goes above and beyond, especially in rural areas.
Verizon vs. T-Mobile devices
You’ll find the latest devices from Apple, Samsung, Google, and other brands with both Verizon and T-Mobile. The main differences you’ll see between these two are in the temporary deals they are running on new devices.
Here’s a list of some of the most popular phones that T-Mobile is currently selling.
And here’s a look at some phones that Verizon’s selling.
Seriously though, check out the deals that Verizon is running. Sometimes they offer wild, off-the-wall stuff like buy-one-get-one iPhones.
Verizon vs. T-Mobile perks
Both Verizon and T-Mobile offer some extra features, like wireless hotspots. But they each have unique perks to sway you in one direction or the other. Here are some of our favorite perks:
- Netflix subscription included with a T-Mobile Magenta family plan
- Promotions like coupons and vouchers through the T-Mobile Tuesdays app
- An hour of in-flight Gogo® Wi-Fi on eligible flights (or unlimited with T-Mobile Magenta Plus)
- Free in-flight texting
- Unlimited texting and data in most countries
Some T-Mobile plans give you free in-flight Wi-Fi.
- One year of free Disney+
- Six months of free Apple Music ($9.99 a month after that)
- $10 autopay discount
- Mix and match data family plan
We think the advantage goes to Verizon for perks, but it really comes down to what you prefer: The Mandalorian or The Witcher, Apple Music or in-flight service.
Recap: Should you choose Verizon or T-Mobile?
If you’ve been keeping track so far, you’ll know it’s basically a dead tie between T-Mobile and Verizon. The main thing you should take away from this is that both providers are excellent—you can’t go wrong.
But here are a few specific examples of when it might make sense to choose one provider over the other.
When should you pick Verizon or T-Mobile?
- Budgeters: Pick T-Mobile. T-Mobile offers cheaper unlimited plans than Verizon at every tier of service. If you’re looking for a non-unlimited data plan, then Verizon is actually better (we would also recommend these plans).
- Data hogs: Pick Verizon. Verizon has a whopping 75 GB data cap, which beats out T-Mobile’s 50 GB data cap. You can go nuts with data on Verizon.
- Travelers: Pick T-Mobile. T-Mobile gives you unlimited text and data in most countries. You also get free in-flight texting and Wi-Fi.
- Country dwellers: Pick Verizon. Verizon does a much better job covering rural areas across the country.
- Speed lovers: Pick T-Mobile. T-Mobile currently offers faster download and upload speeds than Verizon.
Mindy Woodall and Tyler Abbott