Sunday, April 06, 2008

AT&T vs. Sprint: one is better

I don't think there are any truly good cell phone companies [2], but three months after switching from Sprint to AT&T I can say that for us these two are not the same.

Sprint has better service and costs less.


We switched because I wanted to buy an iPhone, which I still haven't bought [1]. I wasn't as wise as this writer:
ATPM 14.04 - Bloggable: Shallow Depth of Field

...Then, there’s writing about the iPhone. You see, I don’t have one, because I don’t have AT&T service. And until my friends who do aren’t constantly cursing dropped calls, I have no intention of switching carriers and buying an iPhone...
My friends weren't as forthcoming, but I can personally confirm that in the midwest AT&T drops calls routinely. My phone may show "four bars", but that's just a little AT&T joke. I go from four bars to no carrier in an eye-blink.

Cost? AT&T costs us about 70% more than Sprint for a similar set of services. I think this huge gap is partly an artifact of our usage patterns (two phones, moderate voice use, frequent calls to Canada, very little roaming on Sprint) but I suspect AT&T would cost most people about 20% more than Sprint.

Contracting trickery? Sprint has a nefarious history of covert contract extensions, but they've been getting better since being sued in Minnesota. AT&T has the rebate scam from Hell.

Sprint wins across the board on voice quality, cost, and contracting. I'm amazed.

The only thing AT&T has is the iPhone, but that's a very big thing. If you aren't going to buy an iPhone immediately, however, don't switch to AT&T.

As a current AT&T customer, I join the world's pleas for a great Google Android phone, and for a future iPhone free of AT&T.


[1] The timing of the switch was dictated by the impending death of my wife's beloved Samsung i500, I was waiting to see the shape of the SDK before committing to the iPhone. The SDK took so long to be revealed I ran into the pending iPhone 2.0 release!

[2] The contract lock-ins, switching costs, and the pricing costs all promote bad business practices.


Modern Pharaoh said...

I'm in the same spot! i just bought the iphone 2 days ago, and about to sell my BlackBerry 8830 world phone with sprint and switch my number over to AT&T but i'm having SECOND THOUGHTS! the black berry is more of a PHONE than the iphone! i think maybe i should just buy an ipod touch instead and keep my BB phone with sprint, but then again, thats an extra gadget in my pocket! decisions decisions...

Need A GOOD phone plan said...

I need to just figure out what one has a better plan for me. I live in a small town and so its hard to get good service. I need a phone wit good service and unlimited texting but at a cheap price. i dont need very many minutes 200 to 400 would do. I would prefer that the monthly cost be as high as 30 a month but if i cant find any that price a little higher would be fine i guess. Could You Help me?

Anonymous said...

It all really depends on where you live. I live in the dallas suburbs area and the sprint service is absolutely terrible. They drop calls constantly, that's if i even can connect. In addition, my texts can never send and the quality of the phones is terrible. They tell me i should come in about every two weeks for check ups! That's ridiculous! I'm switching to at&t because down here it's alot more quality, so really, just ask around to people in your area.

Unknown said...

I have both AT&T and Sprint accounts with land lines and cells on AT&T and cell only on Sprint. I have had both for years and recently began canceling the AT&T accounts and porting all numbers over to Sprint. I do not notice any significant coverage disadvantages with Sprint. The HUGH difference is that Sprint has EXCELLENT customer service while AT&T has virtually NONE. The differnce became so apparent that I was willing to pay the cancellation fees to AT&T at about $175/line to switch!!! I will make up the cost in 2 years from the far better Sprint deals. I will never venture into AT&T territory again unless significant changes occur!!

JGF said...

Since I wrote this AT&T's network melted down, at the same time Sprint has survived longer than expected.

Sprint's problem now is that the Pre is a bit of a fizzle.

So today I'd say Sprint is the better one. I'm not so sure Verizon is better than AT&T though.