AT&T vs Sprint: How Do They Compare?

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If you've ever seen a commercial for cell phone plans before, then you know that the rivalries between the major cell phone providers are fierce.

Being constantly badgered by cell phone advertisements only achieves one thing: confusion. What plans are more affordable? Who offers better customer service? Each cell phone provider is vying to be number one.

AT&T vs Sprint

Although we usually see AT&T and Verizon take shots at each other, or Sprint nip at Verizon's heels, we don't see much trash talk between Sprint and AT&T. This doesn't mean that Sprint and AT&T are friends - in fact, their rivalry is just as competitive as any other.

So what major carrier do we team up with?

At the end of the day, we all want an affordable cell phone plan that offers top-tier service so that when we encounter an issue, we won't have to jump through hours upon hours of hoops or read through the finest of fine print.

We're here to clear up the confusion.

In this guide, we're going to compare and contrast the different plans, features, and services of AT&T and Sprint. After reviewing the essential information, we'll come to a conclusion on which carrier is better. Lastly, we'll direct you to our cell phone plan comparison tool so you can see the phones, plans, and prices of both providers and make an informed purchase.

AT&T Overview

AT&T is known to have the second-largest customer base in the nation. The wireless carrier boasts a whopping 133.3 million subscribers as of Q3 2016.

AT&T features a strong, reliable network, which is 50 percent faster than 4G LTE2. You can even use the latest smartphones with this network. Furthermore, AT&T offers shareable plans and not one, but two types of unlimited data plans, both of which come with unlimited talk and text.

According to the benchmarks by company chart from the American Customer Satisfaction Index, AT&T's customer service score stands at 71. This number is one point above Sprint's customer service score, which is the lowest among the four major carriers.

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How Much Will AT&T Pay You to Switch?

AT&T will send you up to $650 per line via an AT&T Promotion Visa prepaid debit card. You can learn more about switching to AT&T with this guide.

The value of this particular card will be determined by the amount of your Early Termination Fee of the previous carrier or the device payment plan balance at the time of your termination with the service. In other words, if your Early Termination Fee is $200, which can be lower or higher, depending on the carrier and fine print conditions, you will be credited $200.

To obtain this card, you need to purchase a new smartphone with AT&T Next, a service that provides you with a phone with no money down, and activate a new line. Post-activation, you can then port your number to AT&T, trade in your old smartphone, and then send AT&T your old carrier's final bill. Do note that you cannot port your current SIM card to AT&T. You will need to purchase a SIM card and activate it with AT&T's service, which is made easy thanks to the SIM card activation page.

Sprint Overview

Out of the four major wireless providers, Sprint is the fourth largest carrier, serving 60.2 million customers as of October 2016.

Like AT&T, the Sprint network offers the latest and most popular phones, as well as quality plans to complement. However, while Sprint's plans are affordable, its network coverage isn't as strong as AT&T's coverage. Sprint's plans are considered more affordable compared to AT&T, and the service also boasts an unlimited talk, text, and data plan that rivals a popular T-Mobile plan, dubbed the T-Mobile ONE, making it far cheaper compared to the re-introduced Verizon Unlimited Plan.

Unfortunately, Sprint's customer service rating is among the lowest of the four providers. With that being said, Sprint's ACSI score is still 70, which is only one point lower than AT&T's ACSI score.

sprint cell phone overview

The Plans

Both AT&T and Sprint offer various plans that are suitable for everyone. However, which provider stands out in the case of "Sprint vs AT&T plans"? Which offers greater features? More affordable plans?

AT&T's Cell Phone Plans

AT&T's cell phone postpaid plans include what is known as "Mobile Share Advantage" packages. These are considered the main packages, which come attached with features such as no overage fees (once high-speed data has been exceeded) and shareable data.

Mobile Share Advantage plans range from 1GB of data to 100GB of data, which can be shared among family members.

Furthermore, AT&T offers a prepaid service, known as GoPhone. GoPhone plans, which you can read more about here, range from no data to 8GB of high-speed data. Additionally, you can purchase plans by the minute or by the data, which is quite unique to the carrier.

AT&T offers two types of unlimited plans, known as AT&T Unlimited Plus and AT&T Choice. Both AT&T Unlimited plans grant the customer with unlimited high-speed data, talk, and text. However, the AT&T Unlimited Plus plan includes HBO, 10GB of mobile hotspot per line, high-definition video streaming with the service's LTE network, unlimited text from the U.S. to over 120 countries, roaming in, as well as unlimited talk and text to, Mexico and Canada, and finally, you'll save money on DIRECTV packages.

Here's a snapshot of what AT&T's Unlimited Data Plus Plan looks like were you to purchase service from them:

However, with this unlimited plan, you may face slow upload and download speeds after 22GB of data usage. With that being said, you can't go wrong with included HBO programming and HD video streaming. With all of these goodies stacked, the pricing becomes heftier than the Verizon Unlimited Plan, but if you find this plan too expensive, you can opt for AT&T Unlimited Choice, which is cheaper than the Plus option.

With Choice, you'll only have access to max speed at 3Mbps, standard-definition video, unlimited text from the U.S. to over 120 countries, and roaming in, as well as unlimited talk and text to, Mexico and Canada. However, mobile hotspot is not included in this package.

Additionally, AT&T attempts to outdo Sprint when it comes to phone upgrades. Not too long ago, AT&T introduced its own trade-in program, dubbed AT&T Next. This program lets you upgrade to the latest smartphones for $0 down each and every year, though taxes will be due at sale. However, you'll have to meet specified criteria involving monthly installments, just like Sprint's leasing programs. As it is a Samsung Galaxy and iPhone carrier, this type of program should be worth a look.

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Sprint's Cell Phone Plans

Sprint's cell phone prepaid and postpaid plans have shrunk, and despite the downsizing of plans, they remain suitable for users. There are a few prepaid plans, complete with unlimited talk and text, and then there is the Sprint Unlimited plan. If you purchase a prepaid phone, you may receive some added perks, such as a free mobile hotspot.

Similar to AT&T, Sprint prepaid also charges no overage fees once you exceed your data amount. Instead, your data will slow down once your high-speed data amounts are exceeded.

Nevertheless, let's talk for a moment about Sprint Unlimited plan, the highlight of Sprint's service. First of all, with Sprint Unlimited, promotions may - at times - be attached to this plan. For example, you can receive two lines of unlimited data, talk, and text for a good deal, with the third, fourth, and fifth lines being added for free. This makes this plan enticing, even when compared to the unlimited T-Mobile plan.

Furthermore, there is only one Sprint Unlimited plan now, which is more competitive against the likes of the AT&T and T-Mobile unlimited plans. How do I mean? Well, the one and only Sprint Unlimited now includes "premium" benefits, meaning that you can stream high-definition videos at up to 1080p+, music at up to 1.5Mbps, and gaming at up to 8Mbps. So if you prefer HD video with maximum Sprint LTE upload and download speeds, then you should certainly consider Sprint's network.

As a side note, with Sprint, you can take advantage of a couple of cell phone programs: the iPhone for Life, otherwise known as iPhone Forever, and Samsung Forever.

The iPhone for Life and Samsung Galaxy Forever programs are nifty, allowing you to nab the latest iPhone every year. All you need to do is lease an eligible device, and once you've made a certain amount of payments on said device, you can bring it back and upgrade to the latest phone.

This gives Sprint a good rep of being a Samsung Galaxy and iPhone carrier.

Overall, which comes out on top in terms of plans: AT&T or Sprint? While both carry nifty features, Sprint is a bit more affordable compared to AT&T's unlimited plan.

Read More: You can read more about the unlimited plans here.

The Family Plans

Sprint or AT&T: which provider offers better family cell phone plans? After all, families need to stick together, and if a provider offers affordable family plans, you should consider that provider, as family plans are often fantastic in value.

Sprint Family Plans

As mentioned in the previous section, Sprint has decided to split the amounts of data it offers into two categories: family and single. The Sprint family plans or shared data plans - which you can read about more in-depth - range in data amounts from 6GB to 40GB. Additionally, Sprint family plans can have up to 10 lines attached.

AT&T Family Plans

Similar to Sprint, you can add lines to any AT&T family plan for a certain fee, though the fee is dependent on the device. If you're not a fan of Mobile Share Advantage, you can always opt for the prepaid plans, which feature the Multi-Line Discount. For instance, the second device will save you a few dollars, but the third device will save you a little more, and so on and so forth.

Furthermore, you can add lines to the unlimited plan too.

For the best value (especially if you don't care to own cable TV), you should consider Sprint's family plans. They are, overall, far more affordable compared to AT&T's family options.

AT&T vs Sprint Coverage

To a customer and a wireless carrier, coverage is essential for a phone. Without coverage, you cannot make a call or connect to a website. That can prove to be a problem if you're in the middle of nowhere, looking for a tow truck to call because your car breaks down. Let's take a look at which competitor has the best coverage.

AT&T Coverage

AT&T's network solid, boasting the second-best coverage in the United States. After all, the service reaches hundreds of millions of people every day. While the network is speedy, it is not as fast as T-Mobile's network but is still above Sprint.

AT&T coverage map

Sprint Coverage

Sprint doesn't have as vast of coverage - especially Sprint LTE coverage - as AT&T, but the Sprint network reliability, according to recent data from Nielsen (and as flaunted on commercials), is within one percent of Verizon. Despite this, people have encountered incredibly spotty LTE network coverage.

sprint coverage map

In the bout of coverage, who wins? I would have to give the point to AT&T.

Related: Who Has the Best Cell Phone Coverage?

AT&T vs Sprint Customer Service

According to a blog entry from Client Heartbeat: "In a competitive marketplace where businesses compete for customers; customer satisfaction is seen as a key differentiator. Businesses who succeed in those cut-throat environments are the ones that make customer satisfaction a key element of their business strategy."

Yes, customer service makes all the difference in the world. One bad experience can force a customer into the arms of another provider. So who has the better customer service: AT&T or Sprint?

AT&T Customer Service

AT&T's ACSI score of 71 is just a point above Sprint. Overall, the service is great, offering help when customers need it, in the forms of FAQ, community forum, telephone, chatbox, and more. After all, who wants to lose a customer? Furthermore, AT&T offers a loyalty program that allows you to save money on products like tickets and allows you to reach the front of the line.

Sprint Customer Service

Sprint was previously known as the worst in customer service among the four carriers, with many criticisms thrown toward the provider's value and 4G reliability. That being said, the service has since improved vastly, including the customer service. Representatives have been armed with the knowledge of Sprint offerings, ready to help out customers in a variety of methods, including FAQs, phone, social media, chat, and community forums.

Due to the ACSI score and the fact that Sprint doesn't exactly have a loyalty program, AT&T has edged beyond the provider, claiming the crown for "better customer service."

Which is Better: Sprint or AT&T?

Both are good, solid services to consider joining, especially if you're interested purchasing the latest Samsung Galaxy. However, Sprint is far more affordable for both families and individual users, going so far as to offer a single yet premium unlimited plan with no strings attached.

That being said, AT&T's LTE coverage is greater and features better customer service. It's a tough call when it comes to selecting between two of the best cell phone providers, but if you want more affordable plans, it's best to go with Sprint, yet in terms of coverage of customer service, you're better off with AT&T.

Interested in how AT&T compares against another carrier? Check out our comparison guide of AT&T vs T-Mobile.

Want to see every plan side-by-side? Use our cell phone plan comparison tool.

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