You may see major wireless providers spend tons of money on advertisement in an effort to earn the affections of customers throughout the nation, but these ads just complicate matters.
Sometimes, information spewed may not be 100 percent accurate, which can confuse the consumer. What provider offers the best customer service? What is the reliability percentage? Who has the fastest LTE network speed? Unfortunately, data changes and differs, and we find ourselves unsure of who to choose.
While jabs may be exchanged among major carriers, one thing is for certain: Sprint and T-Mobile do not appear to be to have a rivalry of sorts. In fact, Sprint and T-Mobile appear to be in talks of a possible merger.
While that is not happening - yet - you need to decide who is the better provider. Fortunately, we constructed a guide that details the important information - plans, customer service, and talk/LTE coverage - eliminating the need for fine print and garbled, unclear data. Hopefully, with our comprehensive information and cell phone plan comparison tool, you'll be able to make an informed decision of whether you should adopt Sprint or T-Mobile as your wireless service.
In This Guide
Sprint (also known as Sprint Corporation) is the fourth largest network in the United States, serving some 60.2 million customers as of October 2016. Sprint happens to provide wireless service not only through itself but through various wireless sub-branches, such as Boost Mobile (you can read more about Boost Mobile's plans here). The Sprint network is known to carry the latest and greatest phones from both the iPhone and Android lines.
Compared to T-Mobile, the Sprint network coverage is a tad more extensive, covering more remote areas, whereas T-Mobile doesn't cover many rural locations well (or at all). With that being said, T-Mobile's network is strong in metro areas. In fact, the T-Mobile LTE network is the fastest out of the four major carriers - at least on the east coast, as Verizon Wireless has T-Mobile beaten on the west coast. Pretty impressive, really.
Sprint is also not exactly known for exceptional customer service. According to the Benchmarks By Company chart from the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Sprint's ACSI score falls 4 points below T-Mobile's score of 74. As of 2016, the American Customer Satisfaction Index score was 70, a 1.4 percent increase from the previous year.
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How much will Sprint pay you to switch?
If you're considering switching to Sprint's network, you can rest assured that early termination fees will not be a total pain in your behind. You'll have the incentive of not only saving 50 percent when moving from T-Mobile's plans, but the service will also pay for your switching fees up to $650 per line (less phone trade-in credit provided), via Visa Prepaid Card post-online registration and new phone activation.
You can read our guide on Switching to Sprint here.
Contender T-Mobile provides an extensive network, but its network is better known for speed rather than for coverage. After all, its main drawback is its talk and LTE coverage in rural areas, which is incredibly lackluster.
T-Mobile offers a variety of plans, including a tempting unlimited plan, that proves suitable for just about everyone. T-Mobile also shines through with its unique features, such as unlimited music streaming.
Another way that T-Mobile sticks out like a sore thumb? The best customer service around. While Sprint ranks quite low on the ACSI customer satisfaction survey, T-Mobile ranks quite high. It doesn't help that the service offers a competitive loyalty program.
How much will T-Mobile you pay to switch?
Similar to Sprint's switching incentive, T-Mobile offers up to $650 or more in the payment of a prepaid MasterCard card. This is also per line! So if you're worried about your early termination fees being pinned to you or being unable to pay off your device, T-Mobile has got your back.
However, there might be some fine print exclusions to the deal. For instance, the deal only applies to lines one through 12 and excludes the iPhone 7 trade-up offer. You can learn more about switching to T-Mobile here.
Sprint vs T-Mobile: The Plans
The Sprint and T-Mobile networks are often trading blows for the title of having the cheapest cell phone plans among the four major wireless carriers (you can learn about who actually has the cheapest cell phone plans with this guide). Both are affordable and feature an unlimited everything plan. However, Sprint is missing some features that T-Mobile attaches to its non-unlimited plans.
Sprint Cell Phone Plans
Like most carriers, Sprint's cell phone plans include unlimited talk and text, so it's best to turn your attention to the data amount. Plans are downsized to one unlimited postpaid plan and a few prepaid plans, which are suitable for most people.
If you're unhappy at the thought of a prepaid option, you can always adopt the postpaid Sprint Unlimited plan, which is perfect if you consume data like it's water. The Sprint Unlimited plan features unlimited talk, text, and data, all for an affordable price. Additionally, you'll have up to 10GB just for mobile hotspot access.
Occasionally, Sprint offers a limited-time promotion with this plan in an attempt to lure in customers to the "unlimited realm." For example, you can pay an affordable fee for two lines of Sprint Unlimited, and you'll receive the third, fourth, and fifth lines for free.
As of February 2017, Sprint Unlimited has ditched the basic unlimited plan, which only let you stream standard-definition videos at 480p rather than high-definition videos, gaming at 2Mbps, and music at 500kbps in favor of "premium" at the same basic pricing. Premium streaming provides you with HD video streaming at up to 1080p+, high-quality music streaming at up to 1.5Mbps, and gaming at up to 8Mbps.
However, if you're the "limited" type and prefer the non-unlimited prepaid data packages - though you can always opt for the Sprint Unlimited prepaid plan - you can have peace of mind with Sprint's safety measure of unlimited 2G data once the high-speed data has been exceeded, so you don't have to worry about overage charges.
T-Mobile Cell Phone Plans
T-Mobile plans fall into the following categories: T-Mobile ONE and Prepaid Plans.
The most tempting plan would have to be T-Mobile ONE, which is the T-Mobile unlimited plan, which grants the entire family with unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data.
However, while the unlimited T-Mobile plan sounds enticing, there are a couple of important points to note. For one, on all plans, the top 3 percent of data users (those who use more than 30GB per month), will face reduced speeds until the next billing cycle during congestion. Furthermore, videos will typically stream at DVD quality on the smartphone, meaning 480p resolution.
And when it comes to tethering and mobile hotspot? We're talking Max 3G download speeds. However, if you are interested in the ONE plan, you can always opt for AutoPay and save a few extra dollars per line per month.
And if you want HD video and better quality streaming (overall) with your T-Mobile unlimited plan, you have that option by purchasing T-Mobile ONE Plus, which includes unlimited HD Day Passes, meaning you can stream unlimited high-definition video. And if you want to add international perks to your plan, you can always upgrade to the T-Mobile ONE Plus International package.
Of course, if T-Mobile ONE is too pricey for you (in a lot of cases, it isn't), you could always adopt one of T-Mobile's cheaper prepaid cell phone plans With the prepaid plans, you'll have access to free unlimited streaming, gain the ability to hang onto used data, and receive no overage charges.
So which is the clear winner of this section, Sprint or T-Mobile? While there is something for everyone, the data amounts in T-Mobile's plans are rather mediocre in comparison to Sprint's data plans and is slightly more expensive. That being said, T-Mobile LTE data is faster. Due to affordability, Sprint wins, but when it comes to plan selection, T-Mobile is the victor.
Read More: You can compare prepaid plans from all carriers here.
The Family Plans
When businesses consider gaining the loyalty of a customer, they should take into account the customer's family. And what better way to accomplish that than to introduce family plans?
Sprint Family Plans
Sprint carries a family plan, otherwise known as the Sprint Unlimited freedom family plan. This plan grants everyone unlimited talk, text, and data, beginning at a small fee per month per line.
Unlimited data plans come at a discount when entering into a Sprint family plan. Even if you don't think you need unlimited data, you may very well want it if you have data hungry teenagers.
As far as prepaid family plans go, you can purchase a Sprint Prepaid Family plan, which starts at three lines. Unlimited talk and text is included with these plans, and you can personalize your plans to fits everyone's data needs. For instance, one person can choose 3GB, another family member (or friend) can choose 5GB, and another can select Unlimited, but you'll save a certain amount per line when you clump these plans together.
T-Mobile Family Plans
The T-mobile family plan is an extension of T-Mobile ONE. T-Mobile can integrate additional lines to its T-Mobile ONE plan. You can add more than nine lines to the plan.
Without coverage, you can't make a phone call. With spotty coverage, you may face a dropped call with an important figure. So how do T-Mobile and Sprint stack up when it comes to coverage and network reliability?
Want to see how the coverage of T-Mobile and Sprint stack up against the coverage of Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile? We've got your back with "Who Has the Best Cell Phone Coverage?"
If you happen to live in an area T-Mobile covers, then consider yourself lucky. After all, you'll be able to enjoy the fastest 4G LTE speed in the nation and a rock-solid network.
That being said, if you live in or happen to venture into a remote area, then be prepared to face some abysmal coverage. T-Mobile is notorious for poor rural coverage.
Sprint originally had shoddy coverage and a slow network connection, but over the past couple of years, it has been steadily improving its service. According to CNET, Sprint has also "improved its network speeds and reliability thanks to the further deploy of 'Sprint Spark,' its name for the use of three different bands of radio airwaves for better coverage." All this means is that - thanks to Sprint Spark - network reliability as well as upload and download speeds are better. And that's a good thing, right? No one wants slow speeds!
Furthermore, Sprint has since gone beyond metro areas and has been heading into smaller, more remote areas.
Customer service is crucial to all companies. There's nothing worse than being on hold for an hour, speaking with a customer service rep, and not having your problem resolved. With that in mind, how do T-Mobile and Sprint rank in terms of customer service?
T-Mobile Customer Service
The T-Mobile network manages to score the highest on most everyone's list as of late. As mentioned earlier in this article, T-Mobile's ACSI score was a 74, the highest of all the wireless carriers. T-Mobile's customer service is swift, knowledgeable, and incredibly friendly.
Furthermore, T-Mobile offers incentives and fantastic loyalty programs that offer freebies every Tuesday.
Sprint Customer Service
Sprint's customer service has always scored lower compared to its carrier brethren, but its service improving. Representatives have grown to be friendlier and more knowledgeable, going out of their way to help customers. That being said, Sprint doesn't exactly offer a loyalty program for its customers like T-Mobile.
Sprint vs T-Mobile: Which is Better?
T-Mobile and Sprint are constantly at war for the best cell phone provider crown, but T-Mobile has an edge over Sprint. It offers fantastic customer service, unique plan features such as Binge On and Music Freedom, and the fastest 4G LTE service around, despite offering poor coverage in rural areas.
What I didn't mention is that Sprint and T-Mobile offer a vast variety of phones. Even better is that you can set up an installment plan with either provider. For instance, if you cannot pay $800 for a phone upfront with T-Mobile, you can - depending on your credit and the promotion available - put some money down on the phone and pay T-Mobile using an installment plan. Over time, you will then pay T-Mobile "$X" until your phone is paid off.
However, Sprint is by no means terrible. Its coverage extends outside of metropolitan areas, provides decent customer service, and its own plans are affordable. So in the war of Sprint vs T-Mobile, it's best to go with T-Mobile, unless you happen to live in a more rural area.
Verizon is one of T-Mobile's fiercest competitors. To see how the two stack up, check out our comparative guide on T-Mobile vs Verizon.