Sprint vs. AT&T Phone Plans Review

Sprint might have low plan prices, but AT&T offers better coverage, speed, and perks.

Best Coverage
3.8 out of 5 stars
  • pro
    Better coverage
  • con
    High price
Best Budget
Tyler Abbott
Staff Writer, Mobile & Wireless
Read More
December 04, 2020
4 min read

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Heads Up
Sprint is now part of T-Mobile

UPDATE: The Sprint and T-Mobile merger is now complete. Sprint shut down in August 2020 and transferred its customers to T-Mobile.

As such, we won't continue to update this article, but you can read our comparison of T-Mobile and AT&T here.

Of the big four wireless providers, Sprint specializes as the budget option. AT&T used to include a free TV service with its unlimited plans, but it recently cut the perk. At this point, AT&T doesn't offer much besides decent coverage and data speeds. So if you’re looking for a better overall value, we’d recommend Sprint.

If you want the absolute lowest monthly bill possible—especially for family plans— then Sprint is still your friend. But AT&T will give you better network coverage and speeds for your money.

AT&T vs. Sprint prices

Sprint's lower prices look good, especially when AT&T cuts out its extra perks

If you look at the bare numbers, AT&T and Sprint’s unlimited plans have a huge cost gap. AT&T's cheapest plan is nearly twice the cost of Sprint's cheapest plan.

These lowest tiered plans from AT&T and Sprint are not all that different. Both plans will throttle your data speeds for streaming and can deprioritize your data if you use too much. Neither plan allows mobile hotspots.

Given the big price difference between these two plans, most people will opt for Sprint (assuming they don't care much about having the best coverage).

But when you begin looking into the higher tiered plans, the price gap between the two companies closes and AT&T starts looking better.

For example, when you compare Sprint's Unlimited Premium plan to AT&T's Unlimited Elite plan, there's only a $15 difference. That $15 will add up, sure, but it will also get you better coverage.

AT&T's "perks"

AT&T used to have some of the best perks in the industry, but recently the company has been trimming their fun add-ons. Still, there are a few benefits to sticking with AT&T.

  • AT&T Next Up: This perk allows you to upgrade your phone early, even if you haven't finished paying off your current one.
  • AT&T Thanks: AT&T will give you free movie tickets, presale access to concert tickets, and other little surprises.
  • Free overnight shipping: When you buy qualifying new phones or other devices from AT&T you'll have them the next day.
Heads Up
What ever happened to AT&T's free live TV deal?

You might remember a time, not so long ago, when AT&T was heavily promoting a free version of its live TV app for all mobile customers. Sadly, that deal has gone away. You can still download the WatchTV app to get access to over 30 (pretty good) live channels, but you'll have to pay for it.

Okay, but what perks does Sprint offer?

Sprint has a few tricks up its sleeves as well. If you already pay for a Hulu account, then you can kiss that cost goodbye. Sprint includes a Hulu subscription with both its unlimited plans.

Sprint plans perks and benefits comparison

FeaturesSprint Unlimited BasicSprint Unlimited PlusSprint Unlimited Premium
Hulu Limited Commercials subscriptionYesYesYes
Unlimited data and texting in most countriesYesYesYes
Included subscriptionsHuluHulu, TidalHulu, Tidal, Lookout, Amazon Prime
Learn more

The downside to the Hulu joy is you can only watch it on your phone or a device that’s connected to your Sprint account. That means you can’t just log in to Hulu and stream Last Man on Earth on your TV or tablet, which is a pretty weird restriction. It’s also the Limited Commercials Hulu plan, which includes ads.

Sprint also has some extra perks like unlimited data and texting in most countries, plus a Tidal Premium subscription for Unlimited Plus and many other perks for Unlimited Premium.

AT&T vs. Sprint performance

AT&T has better performance than Sprint on basically every front

AT&T vs. Sprint coverage

AT&T Coverage Map
Whistleout Sprint Coverage Map

As it stands in 2020, here are the rankings for best coverage in the country:1

  • Verizon: 70% 4G coverage
  • T-Mobile: 59% 4G coverage
  • AT&T: 58% 4G coverage
  • Sprint: 27% 4G coverage

Both AT&T and Sprint fall to the two bottom spots for coverage networks, but one is way better than the other. AT&T more than doubles Sprint's coverage. Yes, Sprint offers dirtcheap prices for its unlimited data plans, but its coverage feels seriously spotty. Sprint only makes sense if you know you live in a place with solid coverage. Check the map below for reference.

AT&T easily wins the coverage battle over Sprint, but honestly we expected AT&T to cover more than 58% of the country. Hopefully AT&T picks up its game and offers a more reliable network—especially considering its pricey data plans.

AT&T vs. Sprint speeds

When it comes to download speeds, AT&T's data speeds crush Sprint's data speeds. In fact, so far in 2020, AT&T crushes everybody's data speeds.

The average download speed for an AT&T user hovers around 27.5 Mbps, while the average speed for a Sprint user bottoms out at 23.9 Mbps.2 Translation: It'll take longer for you to download apps, watch Instagram stories, and buffer YouTube videos with Sprint than it will with AT&T.

Light Bulb
How about data caps?

Data caps refer to how much high-speed data you can use before your speeds start to slow down. Both providers will start to slow down your data around the 50 GB mark on lower-tier unlimited data plans, while premium plans have a 100 GB data cap. No big difference here with data caps between the two providers.

AT&T vs. Sprint phones

AT&T and Sprint offer almost exactly the same phones.

Both AT&T and Sprint have the latest smartphone models, both carry top brands, and both cost about the same.

Which top phones do Sprint and AT&T have?*

iPhone11, 11 Max Pro, X, XR, 8/8 plus, 7/7 plus, SE11, 11 Max Pro, X, XR, 8/8 plus, 7/7 plus, SE
SamsungGalaxy S10/S10+, Galaxy S9/S9+, S8/S8+, Note8Galaxy S10/S10+, Galaxy S9/S9+, S8/S8+, Note8
GoogleGoogle Pixel 4, Google Pixel 3Google Pixel 4, Google Pixel 3
Learn more

*Not a complete list

Recap—Should you choose AT&T or Sprint?

In short, it really depends on what you want.

AT&T has better coverage and better speeds than Sprint. But the company can no longer claim to have better perks. Meanwhile, Sprint offers similar unlimited plans for a much cheaper rate.

So for most folks it will come down to coverage. Do you want AT&T's more reliable network and faster speeds enough to pay extra for it, or are you okay with a budget option like Sprint?

It's close between these two providers, but we would recommend AT&T over Sprint for most people.

AT&T or Sprint?

Best Coverage
Best Budget

When should you pick AT&T or Sprint?

    • Budgeters: Sprint’s prices are consistently lower than AT&T's.
    • Travelers: Sprint includes international texting and data in its plans, while AT&T does not. But AT&T does have better global coverage and unlimited talk to Canada and Mexico. If you travel a lot, you may also want to add an international plan.
    • Data lovers: You can get unlimited data with either provider, but you can get a Sprint unlimited plan for much cheaper than an AT&T unlimited plan.
    • Country dwellers: AT&T has way better coverage than Sprint, especially in more rural places.
    • Speed lovers: AT&T significantly outranks Sprint when it comes to data speeds.


Additional contributors

Easton Smith

Tyler Abbott
Written by
Tyler Abbott
Tyler has been obsessed with watching sports as efficiently as possible since the creation of the DVR. He is always on the lookout for the best tech in TV and wireless so he can watch all the sports and still have enough time to hang out with his baby. He has written about streaming, wireless, and TV for over three years. He hopes the Lakers will eventually get better.

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