Verizon vs. T-Mobile: Which Wireless Provider Is Best for You?

Want a sweet phone plan? We compare two cellular giants on pricing, data, and 5G access.

Best for extra perks

Unlimited plans: $70.00–$90.00/mo.

Family plans: $25.00–$80.00/mo.

High-speed data: 50 GB, unlimited mm-wave 5G

Hotspot data: 15–30 GB

Best for 5G

Unlimited plans: $60.00–$85.00/mo.**

Family plans: $23.00–$70.00/mo. per line

High-speed data: 50 GB–Unlimited

Hotspot data: 5–40 GB

T-Mobile and Verizon are two of the largest cellular carriers in the country. Both offer solid unlimited phone plans with lots of internet data, robust speeds, and 5G access. We like T-Mobile better because it gives you more data for slightly lower prices, but Verizon has a lot of extra perks that come in handy for hotspot owners and Disney+ subscribers.

Pro tip:

Cell phones don’t have consistent internet speeds, but it’s good to know what kind of firepower you’re getting—especially if you’re on a superpowered 5G network. Run an internet speed test to see how much bandwidth you have.

Pros and cons: Verizon vs. T-Mobile

Pros

  • Biggest network
  • Unlimited data on superfast mm-wave 5G
  • Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ included on some plans

Cons

  • Very limited mm-wave 5G availability
  • Higher prices

T-Mobile

 

Pros

  • Truly unlimited data on the Magenta Max plan
  • Cheaper prices than Verizon
  • More premium data on some plans

Cons

  • No superfast 5G speeds due to little to no mm-wave 5G access
  • Smaller US network

Unlimited plans and pricing: Verizon vs. T-Mobile

Verizon and T-Mobile will both get you an unlimited phone plan with 5G access, a nice chunk of high-speed data, and nationwide coverage. The main difference is Verizon goes big on perks—including a free subscription to Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ included with two plans—while T-Mobile gives you more data and a bigger 5G network for lower prices.

What is premium data?

Premium data is internet data that runs over 4G LTE and 5G networks, giving you speeds in the range of 30–100+ Mbps. While most T-Mobile and Verizon plans are technically unlimited, the truth is that your speeds will slow down to a snail’s pace (think: under 0.5 Mbps) once you use up all of your premium data for the month. In short, the data is unlimited, but the fast speeds aren’t.

The only exception to this rule is with T-Mobile’s Magenta Max plan, which comes with entirely unlimited premium data. You’ll get premium data all month long with no slowdowns whatsoever. Sounds pretty cool, huh?

Verizon plans and pricing

PackagePrice*Premium dataHotspot dataExtra perksDetails
Start Unlimited$70.00/mo.None (speeds can slow during network congestion)NoneDisney+ and Apple Music for 6 mos. at no extra costView Plan
Play More Unlimited$80.00/mo.50 GB 4G LTE/5G, unlimited mm-wave 5G15 GBDisney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ subscriptions included, plus Apple Music for 6 mos.View Plan
Do More Unlimited$80.00/mo.50 GB 4G LTE/5G, unlimited mm-wave 5G15 GB600 GB Verizon cloud storage, 50% off Unlimited connected device plans, and Disney+/Apple Music for 6 mos.View Plan
Get More Unlimited$90.00/mo.50 GB 4G LTE/5G, unlimited mm-wave 5G30 GB600 GB Verizon cloud storage, 50% off Unlimited connected device plans, Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, and Apple Music subscriptions includedView Plan

Verizon’s unlimited phone plan prices are all a little bit higher than T-Mobile’s. But on most plans, you get a big helping of extra perks. If you’re already a fan of Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, and Apple Music, then this is a slam dunk because you can get some or all of these included with your service.

Play More Unlimited and Do More Unlimited come at the same price but let you choose between which perks you want. Play More Unlimited gives you subscriptions at no extra cost to Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+. Do More Unlimited includes 600 GB Verizon cloud storage and the option to get 50% off Unlimited connected device plans, which comes in handy if you want to get a hotspot or tablet. Both come with six months of Apple Music as well.

If you want all the extras, then spring for a Get More Unlimited plan. It comes with 600 GB of cloud storage, the option to get 50% off on Unlimited device plans, and subscriptions to the four above-mentioned streaming platforms. Our only gripe, though, is that it gives you only 50 GB of premium data—that could go fast depending on what you use your phone for.

Pro tip:

Mobile hotspots are a great way to access high-speed Wi-Fi while you’re out traveling or working remotely in a restaurant or coffee shop. Take a look at our best hotspots guide for the lowdown on pricing, data, and speeds.

T-Mobile unlimited plans and pricing

PackagePrice*Premium dataHotspot dataExtra perksDetails
Essentials$60.00/mo.50 GB (speeds can slow during network congestion after data cap is reached)Unlimited 3G data (max 3 Mbps)NoneView Plan
Magenta$70.00/mo.100 GB (speeds can slow during network congestion after data cap is reached)5 GB (and then 3G speeds)Netflix Basic for one screen included with 2+ line accountsView Plan
Magenta Max$85.00/mo.Unlimited (speeds will never slow with phone use)40 GB (and then 3G speeds)Netflix Basic for one screen included; Netflix Standard for two screens for 2+ line accountsView Plan

T-Mobile doesn’t have nearly the same eye-popping extra goodies that you’d get on a Verizon plan—the Netflix account you’d get with T-Mobile may not even be worth it for most users. But T-Mobile does go bigger on a cell phone user’s more fundamental needs, namely speed and data.

The entry-level plan, Essentials, comes with 50 GB of premium data—Verizon’s corresponding plan does not. That means you’ll have a lot more data delivering you 30–70 Mbps (and potentially even faster in some 5G markets) on a cheaper plan. Magenta doubles down with a more-than-generous 100 GB.

And then there’s the Magenta Max plan. This is one of the only unlimited phone plans you can get that’s actually unlimited. There are no caps and no slowdowns, so you can stream and download on your cell phone all month long without worrying about throttled speeds.

The big question, of course, is whether you actually need all that data. Some of us do—like if you’re on Zoom all day, streaming movies on Netflix during your morning commute, or otherwise relying on a phone for internet-related work and entertainment. If you’re not doing that, though, you’re probably fine with the Essentials or Magenta plan.

Family plans and pricing: Verizon vs. T-Mobile

You can add more lines to any of Verizon’s and T-Mobile’s unlimited plans in order to make it a family plan. The biggest benefit to this is it gives you a lower price per line with each additional line you add on—so you can invest in a better plan but also save money by splitting the bill with friends and family.

Verizon family plans and pricing

PackagePriceDetails
Start Unlimited$30.00–$60.00/mo. per lineView Plan
Play More Unlimited$40.00–$70.00/mo. per lineView Plan
Do More Unlimited$40.00–$70.00/mo. per lineView Plan
Get More Unlimited$50.00–$80.00/mo. per lineView Plan
Just Kids$25.00–$50.00/mo. per lineView Plan

Data as of 8/31/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

T-Mobile family plans and pricing

PackagePriceDetails
Essentials with 2+ lines$24.00–$45.00/mo. per lineView Plan
Magenta with 2+ lines$32.00–$60.00/mo. per lineView Plan
Magenta Max with 2+ lines$40.00–$70.00/mo. per lineView Plan
Essentials 55+ (for 2 lines with autopay)$27.50/mo. per lineView Plan
Magenta 55+ (for 2 lines with autopay)$35.00/mo. per lineView Plan
Magenta MAX 55+ (for 2 lines with autopay)$45.00/mo. per lineView Plan

Data as of 8/31/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

T-Mobile’s family plans are a bit cheaper than Verizon’s—Magenta Max costs a nice $15 less per line once you add on a second line. There aren’t any special plans for youngsters, like Verizon’s Just Kids option, but you can get a cell plan at a lower price if you’re 55 or older and want to have two lines on your account.

Prepaid plans: Verizon vs. T-Mobile

A prepaid account is a cheaper and easier to manage alternative to the big-boy unlimited accounts. You don’t get as much data and usually none of the extra perks, but you’ll get the basics for a bargain price.

We think T-Mobile has better prepaid plans because you don’t need to pay a hefty monthly fee upfront like you would with Verizon’s prepaid plans. But both providers have some solid options.

Verizon prepaid plans

PackageStarting price (then $5/mo. off after 3 mos and $10/mo. off after 10 mos.)Data capCan the data be used for a hotspot? 5G access?Details
5 GB$40.00/mo.5 GBYesYesView Plan
15 GB$50.00/mo.15 GBYesYesView Plan
Unlimited$65.00/mo.Unlimited (speeds can be slowed during network congestion)Yes (10 GB for $5.00/mo. extra)YesView Plan
Unlimited Plus$75.00/mo.Unlimited (speeds can be slowed during network congestion)Yes (10 GB of 4G LTE/5G data and unlimited mm-wave 5G)YesView Plan

Data as of 8/31/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Verizon’s prepaid phone plans start off at a really high price, but the monthly bill drops off the longer you have the plan. On each plan, the monthly price drops by $5 once you enter your fourth month, and then it drops by $10 at the tenth month. So you can definitely get a cheap deal eventually, but the first several months will be steep—especially for what you’re getting.

T-Mobile prepaid plans and pricing

PackageStarting price (then $5/mo. off after 3 mos and $10/mo. off after 10 mos.)Data capCan the data be used for a hotspot? Details
T-Mobile Connect$15.00/mo.2.5–5.5 GBYesView Plan
Simply Prepaid 10 GB$40.00/mo. (for 1 line)10 GBYesView Plan
Simply Prepaid Unlimited$50.00/mo. (for 1 line)Unlimited (speeds can be slowed during network congestion)Yes (unlimited data at 3G speeds)View Plan
Simply Prepaid Unlimited Plus$60.00/mo. (for 1 line)Unlimited (speeds can be slowed during network congestion)Yes (includes 10 GB premium data, then reverts to 3G speeds)View Plan

Data as of 8/31/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

T-Mobile is more straightforward with its prepaid cellular plans—no steep starting prices or staggered price breaks here. You can get a dirt-cheap plan like T-Mobile Connect for a little bit of data and unlimited talk and text. Or for a little bit more, you can get a solid deal with the Simply Prepaid Plans, with decent data and hotspot options.

The Simply Prepaid Unlimited Plus plan is basically a prepaid version of T-Mobile’s Essentials unlimited plan—but it’s not quite as luxe, since there’s no fixed premium data and fewer perks. If you go prepaid, we recommend sticking to the less pricey options.

Get part of your prepaid bill covered with the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit

Millions of qualified cellular customers can save money on their monthly phone bills through the Federal Communication Commission’s new Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB). The EBB program applies to several prepaid cellular plans from AT&T and T-Mobile. Applications for the EBB opened on May 12, 2021, and the program will last six months after the pandemic is officially declared as over or when EBB funds are depleted. For more information, check out our complete guide to the Emergency Broadband Benefit.

Customer ratings: Verizon vs. T-Mobile

Verizon and T-Mobile both get decent ratings in public surveys and reviews from consumer-affairs institutions.

The providers got good ratings of 4.1 and 4.0, respectively, in the U.S. News and World Report’s pages on T-Mobile and Verizon. Meanwhile, a 2021 study by J.D. Power gave T-Mobile the highest score for customer care among the country’s major cellular carriers. Verizon came in just behind T-Mobile in second place.

Devices: Verizon vs. T-Mobile

PhonePriceStorageConnectionDisplayDetails
iPhone 12$884.00–$1,034.0064 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB4G LTE, 5G6.1" Super Retina XDR DisplayView on Amazon
Samsung Galaxy S21 5G$699.99128 GB, 256 GB4G LTE, 5G6.2" 120Hz Adaptive DisplayView on Amazon
Google Pixel 4A 5G$514.99128 GB4G LTE, 5G6.2" 60 Hz Full HD+ OLEDView on Amazon
OnePlus Nord N200 5G$239.9964 GB4G LTE, 5G6.49" 90Hz Full HDView on Amazon

Verizon and T-Mobile both support the iPhone 12, perhaps the most popular 5G phone out right now, which has a top-of-the-line camera and water-resistant body. Or you can go for Samsung’s Galaxy S21, with its robust Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip and stunning design.

There are plenty of phones to choose from, though, and you can pretty much have your pick so long as your device is unlocked for all carriers. A lot of phones available right now work on 5G wireless networks, and a solid affordable pick is the OnePlus’Nord N200. The budget phones won’t always get you the fastest 5G speeds possible, but they’ll usually have decent cameras and plenty of storage.

Pro tip:

Are you on the market for a sweet 5G phone? Scope out the best 5G phones to get details on pricing and features.

5G availability: Verizon vs. T-Mobile

5G availability (% of time customer is on 5G)Get it
Verizon11.2%View Plans
T-Mobile33.1%View Plans

Verizon and T-Mobile both support the iPhone 12, perhaps the most popular 5G phone out right now, which has a top-of-the-line camera and water-resistant body. Or you can go for Samsung’s Galaxy S21, with its robust Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip and stunning design.

There are plenty of phones to choose from, though, and you can pretty much have your pick so long as your device is unlocked for all carriers. A lot of phones available right now work on 5G wireless networks, and a solid affordable pick is the OnePlus’Nord N200. The budget phones won’t always get you the fastest 5G speeds possible, but they’ll usually have decent cameras and plenty of storage.

Pro tip:

To understand what 5G is all about, take a look at our comprehensive 5G guide. There you’ll find info on speeds, pricing, devices, and availability.

4G LTE vs. 5G speeds: Verizon vs. T-Mobile

Avg. 4G LTE speedsAvg. 5G speeds (overall)Avg. 5G millimeter-wave speedsGet it
Verizon28.7 Mbps52.3 Mbps692.9 MbpsView Plans
T-Mobile31.8 Mbps87.5 Mbps215.3 MbpsView Plans

T-Mobile has faster 5G speeds on average compared to Verizon. But Verizon has much faster speeds when it comes to the fastest kind of 5G: millimeter-wave 5G.

Yeah, it’s confusing—let us explain!

5G comes in a few different types.

  • Low- and mid-band 5G: This type has a very wide range and greater availability across the country, but it’s only slightly faster than 4G, falling in the range of 50–70 Mbps.
  • C-band 5G (2.4GHz–5GHz): This type has a shorter range but much faster speeds, capable of hitting ranges of 300–500 Mbps. It’s emerging as a hot new 5G type, so while it’s not very common now, it could be soon.
  • Millimeter-wave 5G (28 GHz–39GHz): This is the fastest 5G around, but it has a very short, line-of-sight range—and it’s barely available to users at all.4 Using extremely high-frequency “millimeter waves,” it delivers internet data at gigabit-plus speeds in relatively contained areas like downtown urban centers, amphitheaters, and sports stadiums.

T-Mobile has mostly emphasized building up low- and mid-band 5G in recent months, while Verizon has touted a version of millimeter-wave 5G that it has dubbed Ultra Wideband. As a result, T-Mobile has sprung to the lead with the biggest 5G network and decent average speeds.2 Verizon, on the other hand, has achieved stunning 5G performance in a handful of cities and sports and entertainment venues while launching a more modest 5G in other locales.3

This is likely why Verizon is so comfortable with giving customers unlimited mm-wave 5G data with no slowdowns on its higher-tier phone plans. The chance of you using a bunch of Ultra Wideband 5G data is pretty slim, since there’s not a lot of Ultra Wideband 5G to go around.

Data caps and premium data: Verizon vs. T-Mobile

A lot of cellular providers—not just Verizon and T-Mobile—sell “unlimited” cell phone plans, which means you’ll get unlimited talk and text with the plan. You also get unlimited data, but in reality you’ll have a cap on “premium” data (the stuff that gives you fast internet speeds over 4G LTE networks).

Once you’ve exceeded your premium data cap, your phone will drop to 3G speeds, making your internet data so slow that you’ll likely be able to use it only for bare-bones tasks like checking email.

Aim to get a plan that gives you a high premium data cap if you plan to use your phone for streaming movies, downloading large files, playing online games, or hotspotting.

Verizon premium data caps

PlanData capPriceDetails
Start UnlimitedNone (speeds can slow during network congestion)$70.00/mo.View Plans
Play More Unlimited50 GB 4G LTE/5G, unlimited mm-wave 5G$80.00/mo.View Plans
Do More Unlimited50 GB 4G LTE/5G, unlimited mm-wave 5G$80.00/mo.View Plans
Get More Unlimited50 GB 4G LTE/5G, unlimited mm-wave 5G$90.00/mo.View Plans
5 GB5 GB$40.00/mo. (for first 3 months)View Plans
15 GB15 GB$50.00/mo. (for first 3 months)View Plans
UnlimitedUnlimited (speeds can be slowed during network congestion)$65.00/mo. (for first 3 months)View Plans
Unlimited PlusUnlimited (speeds can be slowed during network congestion)$75.00/mo. (for first 3 months)View Plans

You’ll get plenty of data on Verizon’s unlimited cellular plans. The Play More, Do More, and Get More Unlimited Plans all come with completely unlimited, millimeter-wave 5G data, letting you tap into ultrafast cellular speeds with no caps. They also come with 50 GB of premium 4G LTE data, which is a generous amount (albeit not as generous as what you get from T-Mobile’s upper-tier plans).

Verizon’s prepaid plans predictably come with a lot less data. The unlimited versions of the prepaid plans don’t have premium data caps, so your speeds can be slowed down at any time if there’s network congestion in the area—which could pose problems if you’re at a music festival or sports game.

We’re not so hyped on the prices for the prepaid plans, considering what little data you get. But they all go down in cost after three months and again after 10 months, so they end up being generally competitive with T-Mobile’s prepaid offerings.

T-Mobile premium data caps

PlanData capPriceDetails
Essentials50 GB (speeds can slow during network congestion after data cap is reached)$60.00/mo.View Plans
Magenta100 GB (speeds can slow during network congestion after data cap is reached)$70.00/mo.View Plans
Magenta MaxUnlimited (speeds will never slow)$85.00/mo.View Plans
T-Mobile Connect2.5–5.5 GB$15.00/mo.View Plans
Simply Prepaid 10 GB10 GB$40.00/mo. (for 1 line)View Plans
Simply Prepaid UnlimitedUnlimited (speeds can be slowed during network congestion)$50.00/mo. (for 1 line)View Plans
Simply Prepaid Unlimited PlusUnlimited (speeds can be slowed during network congestion)$60.00/mo. (for 1 line)View Plans

We’re pretty impressed with T-Mobile’s Magenta Max plan—it’s a truly, honest-to-goodness unlimited plan in which your speeds will never be slowed. You’ll always have a supply of premium data ready to go, so you can really get a lot out of that plan if you’re always on your phone.

Any of these other T-Mobile plans are solid too. You get 100 GB from the Magenta plan, which is honestly quite a lot—it’s not as much as what you’d get from your typical home internet plan, but it’s plenty for a cell phone. Obviously you’ll get less data on the prepaid plans, but you can find unlimited options that will help you save some bucks.

If you sign up for an unlimited prepaid plan, just remember that your speeds can be slowed down during times of network congestion since you don’t have any premium data included with your package. That can leave you without a steady internet connection if you’re at a sports game, concert, or other big event with lots of people around.

Coverage: Verizon vs. T-Mobile

Verizon and T-Mobile both have nationwide network coverage. T-Mobile’s network is a lot bigger than it used to be thanks to a recent merger with Sprint, but it’s still not quite as big as Verizon’s nationwide network. Both cell carriers see coverage drop off in some parts of Western states, including Nevada, Utah, and Idaho. But Verizon still has more coverage in those areas on the whole.

Want to know if you can get cell service from these providers where you live? Search your zip code or address on Verizon’s coverage map and T-Mobile’s coverage map.

Final call: Verizon vs. T-Mobile

We really like both of these providers, but we’d choose T-Mobile. It covers all the bases when it comes to the fundamentals, and it offers more 5G speed overall and truly unlimited data on its Magenta Max plan—all for a lower price than Verizon.

But Verizon, of course, has its own strengths—including a larger nationwide network and much faster millimeter-wave 5G speeds (although millimeter-wave has very scarce availability). You can also get a lot of perks from Verizon that you can’t get from T-Mobile, including discounts on plans for tablets or hotspots and free subscriptions to Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+. If you’re already signed up for those platforms, then this could be a way to save some cash.

View Verizon Plans

 

View T-Mobile Plans

FAQ about Verizon vs. T-Mobile

Which is better: T-Mobile or Verizon?

We think T-Mobile is a slightly better cellular carrier because it gives customers more data and wider 5G access at a slightly lower price. But Verizon is great too, since it has a larger network and more perks.

Is T-Mobile any good?

T-Mobile is a very good cellular carrier. Its phone plans give you unlimited talk and text and the upper-tier packages give you a generous amount of data for the price. The Magenta Max plan is one of the only truly unlimited phone plans, providing high-speed data with no slowdowns or caps. It also has the largest 5G network in the country, giving you faster speeds and lower latency compared to 4G LTE networks.

Sources

  1. Francesco Rizzato, Opensignal, “5G User Experience Report,” April 2021. Accessed August 24, 2021.
  2. Sascha Segan, PC Mag, “T-Mobile Finally Reveals Its ‘Ultra Capacity’ 5G Map,” July 28, 2021. Accessed August 24, 2021.
  3. Sascha Segan, PC Mag, “Testing Verizon’s 5G at the Jersey Shore: Super Fast, but That’s Only Half the Story,” June 15, 2021. Accessed August 24, 2021.
  4. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, “Verizon ‘Leads’ All Us Carriers in mmWave 5G Availability at 0.8%,” April 28, 2021. Accessed August 24, 2021.

Author -

Peter Holslin has more than a decade of experience working as a writer and freelance journalist. He graduated with a BA in liberal arts and journalism from New York City’s The New School University in 2008 and went on to contribute to publications like Rolling Stone, VICE, BuzzFeed, and countless others. At HighSpeedInternet.com, he focuses on covering 5G, nerding out about frequency bands and virtual RAN, and producing reviews on emerging services like 5G home internet. He also writes about internet providers and packages, hotspots, VPNs, and Wi-Fi troubleshooting.

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for HighSpeedInternet.com for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.

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