Which iPhone 6s carrier to choose based on cost — AT&T vs. Verizon vs. Sprint vs. T-Mobile?

BY Kelly Hodgkins

Published 12 Sep 2015

AT&T Verizon T-Mobile

Buying a new iPhone is filled with decisions — which color phone do I get, which model is the best, what capacity is suitable for my usage and so on. Once you have the phone part nailed down, you still have to spend some considering the carrier. In an earlier post, we talked about coverage and now we are going to discuss cost. Which carrier –Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint — offers the best rates? Read on to find out.

Cellular Plans 101

Things have changed significantly in the past several years in the wireless industry. With the debut of almost ubiquitous data and the proliferation smartphones, carriers have moved away from calling-centric plans and now base their plans around data. Almost every carrier now offers unlimited calling and texting as part of their base package which is adjusted around data allotments. Customers buying a new phone and switching to a new plan, now have to pick their data allotment first and then add on devices that can share that data. This makes it easy for a subscriber to have a single account with multiple lines for phones, tablets and more. As a result, monthly payments are broken down into two parts — the data allotment that is shared among devices and the mobile access charge for each device. If you purchased a phone using a monthly payment plan, then you will incur a third charge for the device itself.


Verizon is the most expensive carrier and the most inflexible when it comes to its plans. The wireless carrier charges more than its competitors because it has the most extensive 3G and 4G network of all the US carriers.  The convenience of always having a cell signal is why so many people stay with Verizon and pay the higher prices.

Verizon recently changed how it sells devices and is now offering new monthly payment plans for its phones. As part of this change, the company also introduced new wireless data plans, the Verizon Plan, to complement their new phone installment payment options. Verizon’s plans are available in four basic tiers starting with a 1GB plan for $30 a month. Customers can add as many devices as they want to the lines, paying $20 for an installment phone and $10 for tablet or hotspot device. For a limited time. Verizon also is letting customers sign up for a XXL plan that includes 18GB of data for $100.


AT&T is mid-range in price with its Mobile Share Value plans that are more affordable than Verizon, but pricier that the very competitive T-Mobile. AT&T offers all its customers their Mobile Share Value® plans with Rollover Data, which provide Unlimited calling, unlimited texting, and rollover data that allows you carry over unused data into the next month. You can see the breakdown of plans in the table below.


AT&T also charges a monthly access fee that varies based on the type of device on the line and whether it was purchased with a payment plan.



Sprint may not have the network coverage, but its plans are affordable and the carrier bends over backwards to get customers to switch from their current provider and join the Sprint family. As an example, Sprint right now is offering a generous promotion to entice customers to switch to Sprint. New customers can get four lines with unlimited talk, unlimited text and 10 GB of high-speed data to share for only $100/per month. If you turn in your old phone, Sprint will pay off the phone and the contract so you can switch.

Sprint’s regular plans are affordable offering unlimited data, talk and text on the Sprint network for $60 per month. This plan is available for customer who lease an iPhone via iPhone Forever, use Easy Pay installment plans or purchase the phone at full price. Customers who buy a phone on a 2-year contract must pay a higher price for service — $85 monthly for the unlimited plan.


For families, Sprint offer a Family Share Pack that allows multiple devices to share the data on the plan. Sprint’s plan supports up to 4 lines and provides 10GB of shared data and mobile hotspot for $100 per month. A $15 monthly access charge per phone may apply if you pay full retail for a device. This fee is waived if you lease or use Easy Pay to obtain your phone. Similar to the individual plan, Sprint charges more for customers on a 2-year contract. A contract-based Family Share Pack costs $140 a month for 10GB of shared data. You can visit Sprint’s website for a breakdown of the plans and their monthly charges.


Like Sprint, T-Mobile is among the most affordable carriers in the US with unlimited 3G and 4G data for $80 per month. The Simple Choice North America Plan allows you to rollover unused data and provides mobile hotspot tethering, though it is limited to 7GB on the $80 unlimited plan. T-Mobile also is running a promotion right now that’ll give you 2 lines for $100 with each line eligible for up to 10GB 4G LTE data. You can add additional lines for just $20 each per month.

Price comparison

Below is a breakdown or prices for the four major carriers using an 16GB iPhone 6s as a reference.

Monthly Pricing Terms (Months) Upgrade (Months) Extended Warranty Total Cost Yearly Cost
Apple $32.41 24 12 AppleCare+ $777.84 $388.92
$20 18 Up to 3x a year No $524 $240
T-Mobile Jump! On Demand $27.08 18 Up to 3x a year No $649.92 $324.96
Sprint iPhone Forever $22 22 After 12 months No $649 $264
Sprint Easy Pay $27.09 24 24 No $649
AT&T Next $32.50
No $650.16 $390
Verizon Plan $27.08 24 After 75% of phone paid off No $649.92 $324.96

iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus Buyer’s Guide

➤ How to pay for iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus: Full Retail price, Subsidies or Monthly payments?

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

➤ 16GB, 64GB or 128GB — Which iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus storage capacity should you buy?

➤ Which color iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus should you buy — Space Gray, Gold, Rose Gold or Silver?

➤ iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus insurance: AppleCare+ vs Other warranties