First and foremost, an integral part of choosing a new phone is what carrier to be on, because different companies offer different phones. Whether in the market for a good old flip phone or a real upgrade to a smartphone, eFYI will briefly discuss the pros and cons of each carrier so that an actual phone comparison is more beneficial.
First is Verizon Wireless, who operates on a CDMA network and has a wide array of smartphones for every need. The points about CDMA will need to be known is that data (internet) cannot be used at the same time as voice. In short, the user has to either be talking on the phone or surfing the web. But, Verizon has the strongest network in the United States and will most likely never run into a dropped call. Also CDMA providers are not able to be used outside the United States unless specifically noted (certain phones can be and will be covered in the smartphone section)
Next up Sprint, who also operates on a CDMA network and therefore the same rules apply to the ability to be utilizing voice and data simultaneously. Sprint is the second largest CDMA carrier in the nation behind Verizon and therefore a very strong network. After Sprint’s merger with Nextel in 2005, they gained the ability for the “walkie-talkie” feature that Nextel was poplar for. Sprint also has subsidiaries that are Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile where the same rules apply, but are offered without a contract.
The next major carrier is AT&T, which differs from the previous two carriers because they run a GSM network. What this means for the user is that data is able to be used with voice simultaneously, basically surf the web and talk on the phone at the same time. Also, a main feature of a GSM network is the ability to use the phone internationally much easier; all that is needed to do is slip in a country’s SIM card with minutes (which are easily purchased online before leaving the country!). A bad side to AT&T is that coverage can sometimes be spotty (despite their clever ad campaigns) and sometimes dropped calls and loss of 3G/4G coverage are incurred.
Another major carrier is T-Mobile, which is the only other major GSM carrier in the United States besides AT&T. Being a GSM carrier, the same rules apply for surfing the web while talking and international use. T-Mobile’s network is smaller than AT&T and this will result in even more of the issues with dropped calls or data coverage.
Other regional carriers exist in both CDMA and GSM format and if you do a search of “specific state GSM/CDMA carrier”, the search engine can probably find a plethora of interesting budget carriers. A couple popular ones that operate in multiple states are MetroPCS and Cricket. Both of these carriers are CDMA and so once again the same rules as Verizon apply. Both of these services offer phones on a “no contract” basis and have a flat rate for voice, data, and text messages and have become very popular as a budget option. Both offer adequate service and will run into coverage issues from time to time.