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GSM vs CDMA in 2024

Which is better GSM or CDMA?

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You have probably heard a lot of talk about GSM and CDMA but maybe you're not exactly sure what that means for you and your cell phone. Let me help clear that up!

Verizon runs on the CDMA network whereas AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM. There are also numerous low-cost carriers that use these big major networks that can save you money whichever network you are covered by.

Read on and we'll show you how you could save up to $600 per year on your cell phone bill without sacrificing cell phone service coverage.

Image of cell phone with US Mobile
US Mobile unlimited data plan
Best carrier with free trial
Image of cell phone with Tello
Tello 1GB plan
Best cheap phone carrier
$9/mo
Image of cell phone with Mint Mobile
Mint Mobile 5GB plan
Best prepaid carrier
Image of cell phone with Mint Mobile
Mint Mobile 15GB plan
Best carrier for family plans
Image of cell phone with Boost Mobile
Boost Mobile unlimited data plan
Best carrier for unlimited data

CDMA vs GSM: What's the difference?

Best carrier with free trial

US Mobile unlimited data plan

Image of cell phone with US Mobile
  • Verizon, AT&T & T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
Unlimited
data
$15/mo*
$25/mo
See at US Mobile

*30 Day FREE Trial

5 Read our US Mobile review
$630 in annual savings

Best cheap phone carrier

Tello 1GB plan

Image of cell phone with Tello
  • T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
1GB
data
$9/mo
5 Read our Tello review
$792 in annual savings

Best prepaid carrier

Mint Mobile 5GB plan

Image of cell phone with Mint Mobile
  • T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
5GB
data
$15/mo*
See at Mint Mobile

*$45 for 3 Months

4.2 Read our Mint Mobile review
$720 in annual savings

Best carrier for family plans

Mint Mobile 15GB plan

Image of cell phone with Mint Mobile
  • T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
15GB
data
$15/mo*
$20/mo
See at Mint Mobile

*$45 for 3 Months

4.2 Read our Mint Mobile review
$675 in annual savings

Best carrier for unlimited data

Boost Mobile unlimited data plan

Image of cell phone with Boost Mobile
  • AT&T & T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
Unlimited
data
$25/mo*
See at Boost Mobile

*$25/mo forever

4 Read our Boost Mobile review
$600 in annual savings

Cheap phone carrier for one person

Ultra Mobile 3GB plan

Image of cell phone with Ultra Mobile
  • T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
3GB
data
$16/mo*
$19/mo
See at Ultra Mobile

*$48 for 3 Mths

3.4 Read our Ultra Mobile review
$681 in annual savings

Best T-Mobile MVNO

Mint Mobile unlimited data plan

Image of cell phone with Mint Mobile
  • T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
Unlimited
data
$15/mo*
$30/mo
See at Mint Mobile

*$45 for 3 Months

4.2 Read our Mint Mobile review
$585 in annual savings

Best AT&T MVNO

Boost Infinite unlimited data plan

Image of cell phone with Boost Infinite
  • AT&T & T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
Unlimited
data
$25/mo*
3.6 Read our Boost Infinite review
$600 in annual savings

Best Verizon MVNO

Twigby Mobile 5GB plan

Image of cell phone with Twigby Mobile
  • Verizon coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
5GB
data
$10/mo*
$20/mo
See at Twigby Mobile

*$10/mo for 1st 3 Mths

4.4 Read our Twigby Mobile review
$690 in annual savings

What is CDMA and GSM?

GSM (Global System for Mobiles) and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) are two technologies used in cell phones. They are an older form of 3G technology which helps to fill in the gap when you are in an area without 4G signal.

Older cell phones will either be a GSM phone or a CDMA phone and be locked to the carrier network, which is why it is harder with older phones to move from a GSM carrier to a CDMA carrier or vice versa. However, phones made in the last few years normally have both technologies built into them making it easier to switch carriers.

The GSM network is more well known as the technology is used worldwide, whereas CDMA networks are only used in the US. This means if you travel a lot having a phone that uses a SIM card is the best way to check if it is compatible with the GSM network.

GSM vs CDMA network coverage

NETWORK OVERALL RELIABILITY SPEED DATA CALL
Verizon Coverage 95 96 94 96 94
AT&T Coverage 94 94 95 96 92
T-Mobile Coverage 86 88 82 89 82

Source: Rootmetrics

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GSM plans on T-Mobile's network

Carrier Network Data Price
Tello 5GB plan T-Mobile 5G/4G Coverage 5GB $10/mo $14/mo
Mint Mobile 15GB plan T-Mobile 5G/4G Coverage 15GB $15/mo $20/mo
US Mobile unlimited data plan T-Mobile 5G/4G Coverage Unltd $15/mo $25/mo
Boost Mobile unlimited data plan T-Mobile 5G/4G Coverage Unltd $25/mo
Tello unlimited data plan T-Mobile 5G/4G Coverage Unltd $25/mo

GSM plans on AT&T's network

Carrier Network Data Price
Red Pocket 1GB plan AT&T 5G/4G Coverage 1GB $10/mo
Good2Go Mobile 10GB plan AT&T 5G/4G Coverage 10GB $25/mo
Red Pocket 20GB plan AT&T 5G/4G Coverage 20GB $30/mo
Boost Mobile unlimited data plan AT&T 5G/4G Coverage Unltd $25/mo
Good2Go Mobile 1GB plan AT&T 5G/4G Coverage 1GB $5/mo

CDMA plans on Verizon's network

Carrier Network Data Price
Red Pocket 1GB plan Verizon 5G/4G Coverage 1GB $10/mo
Twigby Mobile 5GB plan Verizon 5G/4G Coverage 5GB $10/mo $20/mo
US Mobile 10GB plan Verizon 5G/4G Coverage 10GB $18/mo
US Mobile unlimited data plan Verizon 5G/4G Coverage Unltd $15/mo $25/mo
Visible unlimited data plan Verizon 5G/4G Coverage Unltd $25/mo

Is my phone GSM or CDMA?

Most modern iPhones and Samsung phones are compatible with both 3G networks but the very simplest way to be sure is that if you're currently with T-Mobile or AT&T, it's GSM compatible and if you're currently with Verizon, it will be CDMA compatible.

Phone compatibility checker

Phone compatibility checker
Dial *#06# on your phone to access IMEI

GSM carriers list on T-Mobile

  • Boost Mobile

  • Boom! Mobile

  • Consumer Cellular

  • FreeUP Mobile

  • Metro by T-Mobile

  • Mint Mobile

  • Red Pocket

  • Straight Talk

  • Tello

  • TextNow

  • Tracfone

  • Ultra Mobile

  • US Mobile

  • Good2Go Mobile

  • Reach Mobile

  • Lycamobile

  • Kroger Wireless

  • Optimum Mobile

  • Boost Infinite

  • WOW! Mobile

  • Gotalk Wireless

GSM carriers list on AT&T

  • Boost Mobile

  • Cricket Wireless

  • Freedompop

  • PureTalk

  • Red Pocket

  • Straight Talk

  • Tracfone

  • US Mobile

  • Good2Go Mobile

  • Boost Infinite

CDMA carriers list on Verizon

  • Boom! Mobile

  • CREDO Mobile

  • Lively

  • Page Plus Cellular

  • Red Pocket

  • Spectrum Mobile

  • Straight Talk

  • Total Wireless

  • Tracfone

  • Twigby Mobile

  • US Mobile

  • Visible

  • Xfinity Mobile

  • Affinity Cellular

  • Cox Mobile

  • MobileX


CDMA vs GSM FAQs


Recap

Whether you choose a carrier on the CDMA or GSM network is down to preference and what your needs are. Bearing in mind that it is easier to change carriers with a GSM unlocked phone.

As technology is moving forward both CDMA and GSM are working alongside 4G, but still, play a part in giving you cellular coverage when you're in an area not covered by 4G.

When you're looking for a new plan, you don't have to just go for one of the main carriers. You can find a much cheaper deal by using one of their MVNO's (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) because they use the main carrier networks you get the same great service, but for half the price!

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