Four Carriers, Ten Years, Several Phones:
I am one of those people that have used all four major carriers in the past ten years or so. Part of the reason is that about five or six years ago I had several employees at another business of mine that I have since down-sized to just me and I provided phones. I had T-Mobile only for one of my employees who only lasted a day or two. I tried to move it from my business name to my personal name as I liked the phone number a lot. We got two zeros on the end of the number and that is rare for cell phones. It was a situation where they said at the time, “our computers can’t do that, you’ll have to call in.” I tried by found it was going to take endless phone calls, so I just ported the number out to Sprint for another good deal – plus a chance to get an all new HTC EVO (the original one). I was going to have to pay for his device anyway, since he did not bother to return it when he picked up his check. Before we get to my personal Sprint experience, let’s visit what I did before that.
First the Original iPhone on AT&T:
Prior to Sprint that I had an iPhone with AT&T. I had that as the first two editions of the iPhone and I was not happy with AT&T at the time. The reason for that is obvious to all that had the original iPhone and traveled with it extensively. I also bought a Sprint MiFi device when I switched over the from T-Mobile for the employee to Sprint. I actually used the combo of the AT&T iPhone with the MiFi to back it up when in some areas AT&T was overwhelmed. I used it to also backup my original iPad which was also an AT&T iPad.
Then the EVO on Sprint – Terrible Network:
Going to Sprint with a phone was a whole lot different from just using the early MiFi device. If the MiFi did not get a signal, usually AT&T did. I did not realize just how bad my Sprint was in my city in the far North of the DFW area. It was bad. Bad for voice and really bad for any kind of data. I made the switch to Android as well with the HTC EVO. This was its first edition and I loved that I could have a pocket full of batteries and never be out of communications for long. I learned how to customize it, root it, and further customize it. It was great coming from the very restrictive early Apple. I loved not having to have two or three early Mophie Juice Packs for my phone.
Finally Verizon – and it was good:
Sprint was a nightmare. I quickly learned that I needed to stay with this device on Sprint only as long as I had to. I don’t like having to pay for devices over and over, so I rode out the two year contract to the end. Then I went to Verizon using a Galaxy S2. Then I graduated to an S3, and finally and S5. I skipped the S4 because I had so many S3 batteries and I had my device just right. Of course, we all know that just right goes away as soon as key apps update and you are left with not being able to use some of them as well on the S3. The S5 was great on the Verizon network. I was seeing myself using more and more of the external data through the WiFi hotspot that is included at no added charge with Verizon. I had a 15 gig account and I was using it when I would go to clients offices (another business). I was also traveling with my sons a lot in commutes and they had either their iPads (2 sons means 2 iPads) or even their laptops (2 MacBook Airs). They would connect in the commute and none of would think to disconnect the WiFi hotspot. I actually started to max out the 15 gigs. I decided it was time to make a change.
Verizon Rate Hikes, Moved to T-Mobile:
My wife’s iPhone had been up for renewal for a while. I wanted the new features that come with the iPhone six, namely the ability to get text and calls on a Mac when on the home network. I knew the T-Mobile network was killer strong in my area. I had friends that showed me speed tests as I began looking to make the change. We each decided on iPhone 6’s. Not the huge one, but just the regular new one. I thought about the big one, but I knew I would bend it in my pants. Too great a risk.
Comparing signals – non-scientifically:
I am not going to give you benchmark test for my area. Like with poor medical science I am just going to give you my anecdotal accounts and “feelings” as to how good the network is. Okay – here’s a speed test from RIGHT NOW on both my UVerse WiFi and my T-Mobile single.
I did not do a screenshot on my Verizon, but I do remember it well. It was a consistent signal with about 5 gig down and 1 gig up in my immediate area. In the Dallas area there were some astonishing high speeds that were nearly 50 gig at times down with maybe 10 gig up. I don’t really remember the gigs going up as being much more than that. It was fairly good almost everywhere. I knew of ONLY ONE DROP-OUT ZONE for my Verizon in my area during my entire usage with the service. It was a shopping center near the house. I was always amazed when I would go there I really only had voice service. I had to spend a lot of time there a couple of years back as my sons had Taekowndo there for quite a while. Unlike other such businesses, this one did not provide a wifi signal. But – like I said – that was the only real problem zone for Verizon I ever found. Everywhere else Verizon was good to great. Almost universally I had LTE service.
I show you T-Mobile above. I am comparing it to Uverse here as I found it so much better than Uverse where I live that it is crazy. This is at 12:32 in the afternoon. In the middle of the night those numbers are way up, both up and down. In Dallas and it areas even close by near a tower they tend to triple on the download and double on the upload compared to what you see for T-Mobile in the screenshot above. Occasionally I get some incredible result like the 102.52 down and 28.26 up, like shown on April 1st. I was still in the trial period where I could have returned it on April 1st if I did not like it.
Do I have Any Problems with T-Mobile?
I have found it to be completely strong without any holes where I am at. I have seen it switch a few times here and there from LTE to lesser networks, but that is rare. That also happens occasionally with Verizon, but I never much found it to be an issue.
Building penetration is the only thing I see as really different. Verizon is very useful in most buildings in downtown Dallas. It rarely drops out. I did notice that T-Mobile dropped out completely for data service deep inside the building for one of my new clients in downtown Dallas. I had never walked in there with Verizon, so I have no idea how it would do. Verizon often worked in elevators. Nothing is perfect in elevators, but Verizon was near perfect.
T-Mobile is Much Less Expensive!
I know that T-Mobile will not be great outside of cities and off the key interstates it is wired on. I know that its LTE is still coming out. I have traveled some with it, and I find it perfect in the cities I have visited by air. I find it stronger overall than most Verizon, but I know that there are holes out there. I am paying about 65% of what I was paying for my phone and my wife’s phone for service and even the fees for paying for the phones monthly. That is incredible.
One Thing Better on Verizon:
I touched on the one weakness above. I did not fully understand my rate plan. I have unlimited data, yes. And that is wonderful. I do NOT have unlimited data to share via the WiFi hotspot. I have 2.5 gigs to share via the WiFi hotspot. I found this out quite quickly when I went on a binge using it directly connected to my computer at home. It was so much faster than Uverse, I just wired my iPhone direct to may MacBook Pro while charging the phone and found that I had stunningly fast internet. It was great. Then I hit the 2.5 gig limited. Yes – that number is all over my contract. I should have known. My wife can still use her 2.5 gig as we close in on the last couple of days of the cycle, but I cannot.
That means that I have had to hope on client’s WiFi while at their offices. I never like doing that as I don’t like exposing my computer. Yes, I am protected from intrusion. I just don’t like being a burden on them either.
The most affected people are my two sons. They have had to learn to do without internet in the car for about the past 15 days or so since I hit that cap. That means no more YouTube streaming of other people playing games they love while riding in the car. I know that borders on abuse, but I think they will learn to limit their use of the internet in the car a bit.
In all seriousness, I will have to do something about this cap. I have not bothered to call T-Mobile to see what it would cost to be able to use more data via WiFi Hotspot. Right now it gives me this screen when someone tries to use it:
I remember driving in the car when the panic over losing the hotspot became obvious to my sons. The seem to be okay with it now, but they still demand my phone to see YouTube videos on different ways to play MineCraft and a hundred other games.
Am I happy with the move to T-Mobile?
Yes. I was going to make a change to my account to go beyond 15 gigs, and I saw they had an all new pricing structure. Under that I would have paid more for 14 gigs than I would have for 15 gigs. I quickly realized my old plan was not going to cut it if we upgraded devices on it. Perhaps we could have held on to our 15 gig plan, but I did not feel like hearing their endless pitches. I knew T-Mobile was vastly better than before. We made the move. It’s been totally fine since. I would do it again.