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CDMA vs GSM

What's the difference between GSM and CDMA?

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8GB LTE Data
$20* per month
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* $60 for 3 Months Service

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5GB LTE Data
$30* per month
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* $15 Off for 3 Months

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2GB LTE Data
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* 25% Off for 3 Months

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1GB LTE Data
$10 per month

GSM vs CDMA Comparison

Ever noticed how mysterious cell phone terminology is? We have!

Understanding the language of cell phone carriers can be downright confusing. It's necessary though, for figuring out things like whether your device uses a SIM card and which smartphones you can bring to another carrier.

Find Cheap Cell Phone Plans in Your Area

Two of the most important acronyms to understand are GSM and CDMA. Keep reading to learn the difference between GSM and CDMA and why it matters.

You'll also find out the best low-cost carriers for each type of network and how to save 50% on your cell phone plan and your smartphone!

Switch & Save $600/yr - Calculate Your Savings

Cheapest T-Mobile GSM Plans

Mint Mobile - 8GB Data

* $60 for 3 Months Service
UnlimitedminsUnlimitedtexts
8 GB4G data
$20*per month
Powered by:T-Mobile
Mint Mobile SIM Card
  • Simple, affordable plans
  • Free text and talk with all plans
  • Unlimited 2G data
  • Free SIM card kit
Average Customer Rating57 User Reviews

This Mint Mobile plan includes unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 8GB of 4G LTE data for $20* per month.

Mint Mobile is powered by the nationwide T-Mobile 4G LTE Network. Mint Mobile offers gsm plans with no contract, fees or credit check. Choose a customized plan based on your usage and upgrade or downgrade anytime.

Mint Mobile allows you to turn your phone into a hotspot with free tethering. You can bring your own phone to Mint Mobile and keep your phone number. Mint Mobile is compatible with most GSM unlocked phones. Check Phone Compatibility

Mint Mobile includes international calling, VoLTE and Wi-Fi Calling. Mint Mobile plans automatically renew every 30 days with monthly billing and can be canceled at any time. Mint Mobile offers 24/7 customer service.

T-Mobile vs Mint Mobile Price Comparison

Keep your T-Mobile phone, number & coverage: Save $600 per year

CarrierNetwork Coverage4G LTE DataPriceAnnual Cost
T-MobileT-Mobile 4G LTEUnltd*$70/mo$840/yr
Mint MobileT-Mobile 4G LTE8GB$20/mo$240/yr
*Don't waste money on unlimited data - Avg. data usage is only 3-5GBSavings$50/mo$600/yr

Cheapest Verizon CDMA Plans

Reach Mobile - 5GB Data

* $15 Off for 3 Months
UnlimitedminsUnlimitedtexts
5 GB4G data
$30*per month
Powered by:Verizon
Reach Mobile SIM Card
  • Good pricing for lower data users
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Unlimited data plan available
  • User-friendly website and app
  • Mobile hotspot permitted
  • 24/7 customer support
  • No credit check
Average Customer Rating5 User Reviews

This Reach Mobile plan includes unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 5GB of 4G LTE data for $30* per month.

Reach Mobile is powered by the nationwide Verizon 4G LTE Network. Reach Mobile offers gsm plans with no contract, fees or credit check. Choose a customized plan based on your usage and upgrade or downgrade anytime.

Reach Mobile allows you to turn your phone into a hotspot with free tethering. You can bring your own phone to Reach Mobile and keep your phone number. Reach Mobile is compatible with most unlocked phones. Check Phone Compatibility

Reach Mobile includes international calling, VoLTE and Wi-Fi Calling. Reach Mobile plans automatically renew every 30 days with monthly billing and can be canceled at any time. Reach Mobile offers 24/7 customer service.

Verizon vs Reach Mobile Price Comparison

Keep your Verizon phone, number & coverage: Save $465 per year

CarrierNetwork Coverage4G LTE DataPriceAnnual Cost
VerizonVerizon 4G LTEUnltd*$80/mo$960/yr
Reach MobileVerizon 4G LTE5GB$45/mo$495/yr
*Don't waste money on unlimited data - Avg. data usage is only 3-5GBSavings$35/mo$465/yr

Cheapest AT&T GSM Plans

PureTalk USA - 2GB Data

* 25% Off for 3 Months
UnlimitedminsUnlimitedtexts
2 GB4G data
$15*per month
Powered by:AT&T
PureTalk USA SIM Card
  • Good plan selection
  • Unlimited talk and text with all plans
  • Unlimited 2G data
  • Clean, user-friendly website
  • Competitive pricing
  • Multi-line discount
Average Customer Rating15 User Reviews

This PureTalk USA plan includes unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of 4G LTE data for $15* per month.

PureTalk USA is powered by the nationwide AT&T 4G LTE Network. PureTalk USA offers gsm plans with no contract, fees or credit check. Choose a customized plan based on your usage and upgrade or downgrade anytime.

PureTalk USA allows you to turn your phone into a hotspot with free tethering. You can bring your own phone to PureTalk USA and keep your phone number. PureTalk USA is compatible with most GSM unlocked phones. Check Phone Compatibility

PureTalk USA includes international calling, VoLTE and Wi-Fi Calling. PureTalk USA plans automatically renew every 30 days with monthly billing and can be canceled at any time. PureTalk USA offers 24/7 customer service.

AT&T vs PureTalk USA Price Comparison

Keep your AT&T phone, number & coverage: Save $675 per year

CarrierNetwork Coverage4G LTE DataPriceAnnual Cost
AT&TAT&T 4G LTEUnltd*$75/mo$900/yr
PureTalk USAAT&T 4G LTE2GB$20/mo$225/yr
*Don't waste money on unlimited data - Avg. data usage is only 3-5GBSavings$55/mo$675/yr

Cheapest Sprint CDMA Plans

UnlimitedminsUnlimitedtexts
1 GB4G data
$10per month
Powered by:Sprint
Tello SIM Card
  • Flexible plans up to 10 GB of high-speed data
  • Free texting with all plans
  • Change your plan any time
  • Unlimited 2G data
  • Monthly plans or pay-as-you-go
Average Customer Rating16 User Reviews

This Tello plan includes unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of 4G LTE data for $10 per month.

Tello is powered by the nationwide Sprint 4G LTE Network. Tello offers gsm plans with no contract, fees or credit check. Choose a customized plan based on your usage and upgrade or downgrade anytime.

Tello allows you to turn your phone into a hotspot with free tethering. You can bring your own phone to Tello and keep your phone number. Tello is compatible with most CDMA unlocked phones. Check Phone Compatibility

Tello includes international calling, VoLTE and Wi-Fi Calling. Tello plans automatically renew every 30 days with monthly billing and can be canceled at any time. Tello offers 24/7 customer service.

Sprint vs Tello Price Comparison

Keep your Sprint phone, number & coverage: Save $600 per year

CarrierNetwork Coverage4G LTE DataPriceAnnual Cost
SprintSprint 4G LTEUnltd*$60/mo$720/yr
TelloSprint 4G LTE1GB$10/mo$120/yr
*Don't waste money on unlimited data - Avg. data usage is only 3-5GBSavings$50/mo$600/yr

GSM and CDMA

GSM and CDMA are the two wireless protocols used to facilitate cell phone service.

What is GSM?

GSM stands for Global System for Mobile (communications), a radio system used in mobile devices. This is the most widely-used standard worldwide.

The appeal in GSM rests in its capability. Since it's a global network, its roaming capabilities are better. This means that GSM phones are the more flexible choice for international travel.

What is CDMA?

CDMA stands for Code Division Multiple Access. CDMA represents multiplexing between numerous signals for optimal bandwidth availability.

CDMA and GSM Differences

There are two major differences between the two protocols.

1. How calls are processed: GSM networks use a time division system. When you make a call, the network assigns a time slot and channel to your data.

Conversely, CDMA networks use code division (hence the term Code Division Multiple Access). With this method, data from a call comes with a specific key and transmits together, making this method more versatile.

2. How information is stored: GSM phones use SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) cards. Your SIM card represents your digital identity, holding all of your wireless account information.

The appeal of SIM cards is you can transition easily between GSM phones, especially if you choose a bring your own phone plan.

CDMA phones contain your information within the phone's physical memory.

Some CDMA phones have SIM cards, however, it serves a totally different purpose - or two purposes, as it were:

Save Money on the Best GSM and CDMA Networks

Regardless of which kind of phone you have, you want great service at an affordable price. With the average cell phone bill reaching new heights, you're always looking for the best deal.

Luckily for you, we've got the answer to how to find cheap cell phone plans on any of the major GSM and CDMA networks.

Benefits of MVNOs

What is an MVNO? Mobile Virtual Network Operators are smaller wireless carriers that operate on the same networks as the big four - AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless. MVNOs rent space on the major networks and sell it to you at a better price.

Why should you go with an MVNO?

  • They're cheaper by 50% or more.
  • You get reliable nationwide service on the big four networks.
  • There are no contracts.
  • You can customize your plan so you pay only for what you actually need.
  • It's easy to bring your own phone and keep your number.
  • MVNOs get high customer service ratings.
  • It's easy to switch - signup is usually done online.

The Best GSM Carriers

AT&T and T-Mobile are the main GSM networks in the US. Let's look at some GSM MVNOs that will save you hundreds of dollars per year over the big guys.

TextNow (T-Mobile)

TextNow is unique because it uses a technology that allows service to switch seamlessly between the cellular network and Wi-Fi as a way to save data.

Other benefits include:

  • Free ad-supported Wi-Fi only plan
  • Affordable unlimited plan
  • Unlimited calling and texting with all plans

US Mobile (T-Mobile)

Flexibility is what gives US Mobile plans its edge. There are hundreds of possible combinations, allowing you to design a custom plan that truly fits your needs.

Other US Mobile benefits include:

  • Unlimited plans available
  • 24/7 customer service
  • International service coming soon

Red Pocket Mobile (AT&T)

Red Pocket plans are a great alternative for average users, saving you at least 50% over comparable AT&T plans without giving up the AT&T wireless network.

Other Red Pocket features include;

  • Free calling to 70+ countries
  • Mobile hotspot and tethering permitted
  • Easy to bring your own GSM phone

Cricket Wireless (AT&T)

You may have heard of Cricket Wireless since it's one of the oldest prepaid cell phone providers and also one of the few MVNOs with brick-and-mortar retail stores. The carrier was purchased by AT&T in 2013.

Great things about Cricket:

  • Unlimited talk and text with all plans
  • Unlimited plan with two speed choices
  • Discount on family plan (Group Save)

The Best CDMA Carriers

The best CDMA carriers have plenty to offer as well. With CDMA you get coverage on the Sprint or Verizon Wireless networks.

TextNow (Sprint)

In addition to running on the T-Mobile network, TextNow plans are also available on the Sprint network.

Tello (Sprint)

Tello plans offer fantastic flexibility and pricing for light to medium data users.

Other features:

  • Unlimited talk and text messages with all plans
  • Data buckets from none to 10 GB
  • International pay-as-you-go calling

Twigby (Verizon)

With service on one of America's most reliable networks, Twigby plans are a super affordable alternative for Verizon Wireless fans.

  • Free global texting with all plans
  • 25% introductory discount for the first 6 months
  • Mobile hotspot use permitted

US Mobile (Verizon)

US Mobile also provides Verizon coverage. US Mobile unlimited data plans, in particular, run on this reliable network, with three different speed options available.

Save Even More: Buy a Refurbished Phone

There are two things you need to know about phone compatibility:

  1. You'll get the best service with a GSM phone on a GSM network and a CDMA phone on a CDMA network.
  2. Make sure you buy an unlocked phone or that you know how to unlock your phone for use on another carrier.

With that knowledge in hand, now you can save 50% or more on your smartphone when you buy used or refurbished.

Buying a used phone is a great choice for multiple reasons:

  • Price - get your favorite devices for less than half the cost of retail.
  • Freedom - take your phone to any carrier you wish.
  • Protection - you can buy cell phone insurance on used and refurbished devices just like with a new one.
  • Simple repair - cell phone repair shops are everywhere these days, making it cheap and easy to get your device fixed.

We make it easy and fast to compare the best cell phone deals on new and refurbished smartphones available from reputable sellers across the web.

Recap

The bottom line is that saving on either GSM or CDMA phones and service is simple:

Want to see just how much you can save over your current carrier? Use our cell phone savings calculator to find out in seconds!

Rob Webber

Rob Webber

The Best Prices on the Best NetworksAll low-cost carriers are powered by the major US networks
Switch & Save $600/yr - Calculate Your Savings