How To Choose the Least Expensive, Most Reliable 5G Network Before You Buy an iPhone 14

Apple 2022 Special Event, Cupertino, USA - 07 Sep 2022
JOHN G MABANGLO / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock.com

The Apple iPhone 14, in all its iterations, is now available for pre-order, and wireless carriers are looking to get in on the action. AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon each announced that eligible customers can nab the latest Apple smartphone for free (albeit with a number of strings attached) as part of a promotional offer.

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All this hype brings to light a couple of eternally burning questions in our tech-saturated age:

  • Which cell phone carrier is the best?
  • Which is the most affordable?

The answers aren’t clear-cut, but there are a few things you want to look for in a wireless carrier — particularly if you’re upgrading to an Apple iPhone 14.

Local Network Coverage

The first thing to check off your list is network coverage. Does the carrier provide strong and reliable coverage in your area? This is a particularly important question if you live in a rural location. Every carrier that provides coverage in your area will rattle on about how great their service is, so you’ll have to put on your detective hat for this one and ask locals. You might also want to check out platforms such as reddit to collect firsthand experiences from users.

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5G Coverage

5G coverage is rapidly becoming the norm for cellular networks, but some carriers are doing a better job than others. If speed is important to you, especially when it comes to things like downloads, you’ll want to opt for a carrier with a strong reputation in this area. According to the latest report from RootMetrics, T-Mobile has the fastest 5G speeds of any carrier and the greatest 5G availability.

Plans, Pricing and Features

How much are you paying for your current plan now, and how much would you be paying if you switched to a new carrier? Could you possibly get more for less? Here’s where you may want to look beyond the giant carriers (Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile) and explore smaller, budget players like Mint Mobile, Cricket Wireless and Boost Mobile. Keep in mind that these more affordable carriers don’t offer as many frills in terms of features (like 5G), but you can be guaranteed basic connectivity. If 5G is important to you, it may be wise to stick with the big guys.

Know Your Obligations To Your Current Carrier

Are you still under contract with your current carrier? How much would it cost to break that contract? It’s crucial to answer these questions before you even think about making the switch to a new carrier.

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Additionally, it’s worth telling your current carrier that you’re thinking of switching providers. They’ll almost certainly butter you up with some sort of promotional offer to get you to stay. It could be worthwhile to speak to their retention department for a best offer.

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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