As soon as Apple announced October 14th as the release date for the new iPhone 4S on AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint, potential buyers began wondering which carrier would be the right option.

Now that AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint all offering the iPhone, everyone is looking at the pros and cons of each carrier. With that in mind, Macworld has put together a comprehensive comparison of the choices for new iPhone owners on all three US carriers…

The comparison, carried out by Macworld’s Joe Mathis, goes into the differences in pricing and tariff structure across the three carriers now offering the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S to customers.

Sprint’s lowest voice plan is $70, which is considerably more expensive than the base options of $40 for both AT&T and Verizon. But that’s not the whole story, with Sprint offering savings elsewhere.

Family plans are a very similar story. AT&T’s lowest plan comes in at $60 for 550 minutes, while Verizon’s cheapest option is $70 for 700 minutes.

AT&T also offer the same type of plan, too, should AT&T be your carrier of choice for a reason other than cost. Sprint is where things start to get a little expensive, with their base family plan coming in at a whopping $130, although you do get 1,500 minutes. Sprint is still expensive, with both AT&T and Verizon offering 1400 minutes for $90. That’s quite a disparity.

Text messaging plans are where Sprint starts to even the playing field. While AT&T and Verizon both charge 20 cents per message, all messages on Sprint are included in their data plans. Yes, Sprint’s competition does offer bundles of texts at set fees, but when you add those on, the voice plans start to even out slightly.

When it comes to data, Sprint is again the cheapest option, offering unlimited data for just $10 per month. To get the same unlimited bits elsewhere is difficult — as all other carriers no longer offer unlimited data plans.

Tethering options are also available on all three carriers.

Nobody can tell you which carrier is best for you, and the carrier you choose may very well depend on the coverage in your area, rather than price and features. If you’re on a family plan, that could also change your outlook on a new contract, so be sure to check what your current deal offers you before moving.

It’s certainly a minefield out there, but choice is always a good thing.

Let us know what carrier you decided to go with for the iPhone, and why! Are you switching carriers for the iPhone 4S?

  • Hollywood305

    Staying with ATT I’m
    Grandfather in since 97 plus a family plan is always is always cheaper to beat the system. But the only bad part of the stick, when it time for the upgrade the second lines can never get it on the release day, they end up
    Getting an early upgrade fee which is always like 200 or more from
    What the first line getting the phone for. U have to wait until u elgible. If u don’t mind waiting a couple of months after the phone comes out, then the family plan is a way to go

    • j.johnson

      when i preordered it made me select a new data plan. i called in to see if this was the case and the rep over the phone told me i had to switch as well. Now it doesn’t kick into effect until i activate the new line so ill give it another try on the 14th when i get my phone. I was and am really upset that its trying to make me change my data plan.

      • jonathan

        thats odd i preordered and my unlimited data came up as a option.

  • BEC

    An important factor left out. Which carrier has the cheapest international plans for this of us who often leave the fifty on travel?

    • Eddie

      Do your own research. These are all American carriers. If you’re so in love w the rest of the world why don’t you go live there.

      • TT

        Who pissed in your Cherioes this morning?

      • MrA

        Eddie shut up. You give America a bad name.

      • iGirl_in_SC

        Eddie, smetimes people travel on business, you know? I myself travel on company business a third of my time. Your comment is totally out of place.

      • PDLC

        Chill out pive! The guy’s just expressing an opinion. Wow, not cool to be bitter.

      • PDLC

        Chill out dude! The guy’s just expressing an opinion. Wow, not cool to be bitter.

      • David

        LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL @TT

      • MALdito

        Yeah!… (¬_¬) Ya dumb douche!

  • ic0dex

    I live AT&T I het the best data speeds from the here in the San Fernando Valley. Verizon and Sprint are slow. So I can’t wait to get my iPhone 4S and see how faster it got.

  • Rob Matthews

    You wrote, “Now that AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint all offering the iPhone,” but it should be, “Now that AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint are all offering the iPhone,”

    • Masters

      SHUT UP!! Go back to your moms basement where u feel important and quit trying to make yourself important with grammar remarks!!

      • ic0dex

        Thank you!

  • ed

    I’m sorry but you indivual plan list is misleading and wrong. Sprint is by far cheaper than at&t and sprint. That 450 minutes plan includes unlimited mobile minutes, unlimited data and text. Plus the 450 minutes they give you are to call landlines. Now when you get a smart phone they add $10 for premium data. Which brings total to $80. Which is why I was considering of jumping ship to sprint. But for now I will stay with my at&t cause not a big enough phone upgrade to justify switch. Plus can’t talk and surf at same time which I do a lot. To make long story short bad article. Unless you work for at&t or Verizon and trying to get customers.

    • Ryan

      You can talk and surf at the same time on Sprint. You are correct on the Sprint pricing. This article is misleading in that. If you add up the charges on AT&T and Verizon, they are mo expensive with less features.

      • Bob

        You can’t talk and surf at the same time on sprint or verizon.

  • Jason Masters

    Itbwould seem that print has the best plans but miss your bill payment by one day and wam no service that’s sprint style they are notorious for it Tmobile Verizon and att all have grace periods sprint doesn’t so to be fair you would have to include customer service as well..

  • In germany I do pay 20$, and that includes unlimited data, text message flat, free 120 minutes to phone….

  • Ivan

    I pay 60 a month with unlimited data, text, and 700 minutes with att and the internet in the area i live is faster than sprints so im sticking to att

  • Manuel

    Question, will an old Verizon iphone now work with Sprint since the iPhone 4 works for that carrier now?

    • MrA

      No.

  • Alexandre

    Sprint makes it mandatory for other lines on a family plan to pay $10 per line for the data plan, in addition, each additional line (beyond 2 lines) comes at a premium of $19 a month! Peeps, check out all the details before quacking about which is cheaper. From a family plan perspective, Sprint is much more expensive. I’m going to either Verizon or AT T.

  • sagebrush

    I realize that T-mobile does not have an iPhone but if saving money on the monthly bill is important to you take a look at their plans. $50 a month/line for unlimited everything.

  • rajesh

    in australia i get unlimited calls, unlimited texts plus 4GB(3G) of data for only $39…..:)

  • Dow Wilson

    ATT now, I will be switchIng to Sprint. To have a smart phone and be with either of the others is ludicrous! But I’m also switching phones. Went from blackberry to iPhone; bad mistake for I’m not looking for a fun phone, I’m looking for a productive phone. Might consider android though. They’ve got tough phones that don’t require you to purchase an expensive cover!

  • Cacun

    Im from Uruguay, actually paying about 45 dollars for 180 min + 250 sms + 500mb! And a two yr contract gives you an iPhone for arround 400 dols….
    In other hand for about 70 dols you get 300 min + 1 gig + 250sms = iPhone for 200 dols @ 2years
    That’s movistar @ third world
    And is THE choice coz the other company coverage just sucks
    Plus got to wait until dec to get that 4S
    Dammmnnn

  • Cacun

    Im from Uruguay, actually paying about 45 dollars for 180 min + 250 sms + 500mb! And a two yr contract gives you an iPhone for arround 400 dols….
    In other hand for about 70 dols you get 300 min + 1 gig + 250sms = iPhone for 200 dols @ 2years
    That’s movistar @ third world
    And is THE choice coz the other company coverage just 5uck5
    Plus got to wait until dec to get that 4S
    Dammmnnn

  • Former Droid

    New to IPhone. Is this how some of you represent? Sad.

  • Charles

    HUGE holes in this article:

    How do the plans compare on international calls?

    How do the plans compare when you travel internationally?

    On AT& T you can talk and surf at same time- A benefit for some (Apple has an ad to that very effect going on now, so please don’t think you will be able to do both on Sprint).

    AT& T is the only carrier with the 4 g service that allows the faster processor to download much quicker. If you are into browsing- that’s a HUGE benefit.

    Also, if they allow you to grandfather your unlimited data plan, the AT & T becomes cheaper.

    This article also fails to say which has the best SERVICE!!!!!! I know for me, in the bay area, i drop 1/3 of calls I make on AT & T, which makes me DESPISE that carrier – BUT I do download a lot, and the fact that i will do that faster on the AT& T network is a huge factor.

    Also, AT&T is very reasonable when you talk with customer service about issues. Friends of mine with Verizon get nowhere with CS there. I mean zero compromise.

    The way Sprint drops you if you’re a day late is a HORRIBLE business practise. What if you’re in Europe and your bill is late. How do you connect with them?

    I will see if I can get grandfathered in with my AT&T unlimited data plan…

    But, final word.. it is AMAZING how cheap cell phones are in other countries. We are getting totally gouged in America – We have no regulation, so they set the price as high as they can get it…and they have bean counters who figure out just how high they can go and just how to squeeze the most out of their customers. It is a disgrace. Where is the “free” market? Where is fair and honest competition? Not in the US, I’m sorry to say.

    • Jason Masters

      Greatly worded so true you should write for IDB they could use your talents!

    • Edward

      You say that “We have no regulation, so they set the price as high as they can get it”. So you’re saying that you want regulation, that is, you want government imposed price controls on wireless services. And then you ask, “Where is the ‘free’ market?” Dude, you are thoroughly confused. As for me, I want the government to bring down the price of BMW’s. It’s only fair!

  • Eric

    Charles,

    Very good comments, but it isn’t a lack of regulation that causes prices to be so high here in America, it is over-regulation and the burden placed upon business by lawyers and politicians. One could buy a $40,000 Accord in Beijing last year for $10k, because our idiot politicians and their crony-lawyer pals force automakers to load them down with useless equipment and add enormous tariffs onto them. You are right – there is no free market in America, unless you’re a politician.