Which iPhone 7 Carrier Is the Best iPhone 7 Based on Coverage — AT&T vs. Sprint vs. T-Mobile vs. Verizon?

BY Kelly Hodgkins

Published 14 Sep 2016

AT&T vs. Verizon vs. Sprint vs. T-Mobile
Before you start picking out colors and thinking about the capacity of your new device, prospective buyers of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus should first consider which carrier they will select for their new iPhone. Two critical considerations when choosing a carrier is cellular coverage and connection speed, both of which determine where you can make calls and check your email on the go. 

Urban versus Rural

If you live in a city, then you can pick from any of the big four — Verizon, AT& T, Sprint or T-Mobile. All fours carriers blanket the major cities with their fastest coverage in order to attract the most customers. If you live outside the city, frequently travel to rural areas or even live in a rural area, then you should spend some time exploring which carrier offers the best coverage for you. Look at coverage maps and talk to friends to see which carriers they use. We also can help by listing the four major carriers, discussing their coverage options and detailing which carrier provides the best service and where.

NOTE: The maps provided below are meant to illustrate the coverage areas of each carrier. We used the most up-to-date information available when writing this post, but these coverage areas may change rapidly. Use this post as a guideline and then consult each carrier’s website to confirm which one is best for you.


verizon-4g-lte Verizon’s tagline is “We’ve got you covered” and that is not an exaggeration. Its 4G LTE network is expansive covering 2.4 million square miles and 98% of the population in the continental US. Unlike its competitors Sprint and T-Mobile which are focused in the major cities, Verizon blankets most of the nation with its voice and 4G data network. It has a strong rural presence, especially in the East and Midwest.

Verizon has the largest network, and now it is also the fastest. In recent years, the company has been boosting its network, rolling out the more robust LTE Advanced and XLTE in more than 450 cities nationwide. Verizon also added support for Voice Over LTE (VoLTE), which routes voice calls over the carrier’s 4G network and allows for simultaneous voice and data.

As a result of these optimizations and more, the company has the most reliable and the fastest network in most parts of the United States according to multiple third-party tests, including those by Consumer Reports, PCMag, and more. Verizon will eventually sunset its CDMA voice network in the coming years, allowing it to focus even more on its high-speed data network.

If you want the best 4G LTE coverage coast to coast, then Verizon should be your first choice. Its monthly plans may be more expensive than competing carriers, but that extra monthly cost is worth it, especially when you run out of gas in the boondocks and need to call for assistance. If you have Verizon, it’s almost a guarantee the call will go through.

Check Your Verizon Coverage


att-4g-lteVerizon may be the largest carrier in the United States based on  4G coverage, but AT&T is a close competitor. The GSM carrier offers a strong presence in both major metropolitan areas and interstate highways. It also is increasing its presence in rural areas in many parts of the country. Its network is strongest in the southeast and south-central parts of the country where its speed and ping tests outshine its competitors.

Check Your AT&T Coverage


Sprint has put a lot of effort into improving its network speed and coverage, and it shows. The carrier recently rolled out its new LTE Plus system, which uses two 20MHz channels that have been merged in an effort to boost download speeds. Though it’s still in fourth place overall, the company competes favorably in many metropolitan areas, including Columbus, Las Vegas, Seattle and San Francisco. Combine this improved speed with dirt cheap service plans and you have a winning combination.

The carrier provides voice and 4G data coverage nationwide with coverage in all major metropolitan areas. There are some gaps, primarily on the east coast around the Appalachian Mountains, in the northern section of Maine and in the western states along the Sierra Nevada chain and the Rocky Mountains.

If you live, work and vacation primarily in cities, then Sprint may be a good choice for a carrier. You’ll get coverage in these metropolitan areas and save some money. If you travel outside the cities into the countryside on a regular basis and need reliable coverage, then you may want to consider AT& T or Verizon for your next iPhone.

Check Your Sprint Coverage


t-mobile-coverageT-Mobile is shaking up the cellular industry in the US with its contract-free plans, generous bonuses for switching and cutthroat pricing on its monthly plans. Among the big four, T-Mobile has the smallest footprint for both voice and data, but it provides a super fast 4G connection that places it among the fastest carriers in many major metropolitan areas.
Similar to Sprint and Verizon, the company also continues to boost its speed by doubling up its 20MHz spectrum and using its 700MHz spectrum in suburban and rural areas.

T-Mobile continues to invest in its network, building out its network to expand coverage in many suburban and select rural areas where it had little to no service options at all last year. Its biggest gain has been in the Northeast, where it now delivers market leading performance in the major cities of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. There is still a major gap in the western US mountains which the carrier likely will address with the increasing rollout of its 700MHz service.

If you want 4G coverage everywhere you go, then T-Mobile is not the carrier for you. But if you live and play in the city and want both fast speeds and the best pricing on a plan, then T-Mobile is worth considering. The company is innovative in its approach to cellular service and is willing to try new things to improve the service it provides to its customers.

Check Your T-Mobile Coverage

Which carrier will you choose?

Which carrier will you choose when you buy the new iPhone 7 or 7 Plus? Will you stick with your existing carrier or do you plan to switch? Please share your experience with these carriers in the comments below to help your fellow readers.