iPhone 6s carriers compared based on coverage: AT&T vs. Verizon vs. Sprint vs. T-Mobile

BY Kelly Hodgkins

Published 11 Sep 2015

iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s PlusBefore you worry about color and capacity of your new device, prospective buyers of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus should first consider which carrier they will select for their new iPhone. One very important consideration when selecting a carrier is cellular coverage, which determines where you can make calls and check your email on the go. 

If you live in a city, then chances are you can pick from any of the big four — Verizon, AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile.  But if you live outside the city or frequently travel to rural areas, then you should spend some time exploring which carrier offers the best coverage for you. Below, we list the four major carriers and discuss their coverage options, 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 is the largest carrier in the United States based on the number of subscribers, and its network is the most expansive in terms of coverage. Though you still fall back to 3G in select rural areas, Verizon has the largest 4G network, offering LTE coverage in most locations nationwide. Unlike its competitors which are focused in 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 may have the largest network, but it’s connection speeds often lag behind competitor T-Mobile and match that of AT&T, primarily because its network is supporting a lot of subscribers and must deal with congestion. Now that its LTE network is almost ubiquitous, Verizon also is rolling out Voice Over LTE (VoLTE), which will move voice calls over to the carrier’s 4G network. Verizon will eventually sunset its CDMA voice network in the coming years.

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.

If you choose not to go with Verizon, then AT&T is your next best choice for network coverage and reliability nationwide.

Check Your Verizon Coverage


att-coverageVerizon may be the largest carrier in the United States based on subscribers and 4G coverage, but AT&T is a close competitor. The GSM carrier offers a strong presence in major metropolitan areas and on interstate highways in most parts of the country. AT&T now covers more than 400 markets nationwide and 300 million people, with the best coverage in the Midwest and on the east coast.

Because its network backbone is built on GSM technology, the carrier has long supported simultaneous voice and data on all its phones. Only available on select Verizon phones, simultaneous voice and data lets you talk on the phone and use the internet at the same time.

AT&T’s 4G network can’t rival Verizon when it comes to coverage areas, but it does compete favorably on speed with the two carriers scoring neck and neck in recent download tests.

Check Your AT&T Coverage


sprint-coverageSprint is the number three carrier in the US in terms of both subscriber numbers and coverage. Sprint has put a lot of effort into improving its customer service and increasing its network coverage, but the carrier still lags behind its much bigger competitors, Verizon and AT&T. The carrier provides voice and 3G data coverage nationwide with some gaps on the east coast around the Appalachian mountains and in the western states along the Sierra Nevada chain and the Rocky Mountains.

4G LTE coverage is present mostly in large metropolitan areas and along major highways on the east coast and extending a little ways into the Midwest.Even though it offers 4G, Sprint’s network is slower than all other carriers for both its 4G and 3G network.

Similar to T-Mobile, Sprint compensates for its smaller coverage footprint and slower speeds by offering less expensive monthly plans. 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 a phone, 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 largest carriers, T-Mobile has the smallest footprint for both voice and data, but it provides the fastest 4G connection. To compensate for its lack of cellular coverage, the company offers WiFi calling that allows you to talk and text whenever you are connected to a WiFi network.

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 he 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 6s or 6s Plus? Will you stick with your existing carrier or do you plan to switch? Let un know what you think in the comments.

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