Best Cell Phone Coverage: Top 5 Most Reliable Phone Carriers You Need Right Now

Of the 30 major telecom services in America, there are only 5 phone carriers you need if you want nothing more but fast and reliable coverage wherever you may be in the country.

As of November 2018, we’ve rounded out only the best of the best when it comes to superior phone usage consistency that makes each penny worth your while.

These 5 phone carriers are:

  • Verizon
  • AT&T
  • T-Mobile
  • Metro by T-Mobile
  • Sprint

Also check out our intensive reviews for Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint when you have the time. It’s worth reading them.

Each of them is what both satisfied customers and critics refer to as the best cell phone provider made for where they live and for their purposes.

This time around, we’ll be counting them down from #1 to #5.

  • Verizon Wireless – Widest coverage above any other phone carrier in America
  • AT&T – Almost the same coverage as Verizon but is much cheaper and has the fastest network speed for rural areas
  • T-Mobile – Has really good coverage on major states but can be quite inconsistent in rural areas
  • Metro – Has almost the same coverage as T-Mobile but is stronger in rural areas
  • Sprint – Covers a large part of America on both metro and rural areas but the network quality isn’t as constantly top-notch as other leading carriers

Let’s start with the largest coverage: Verizon.

1. Verizon Wireless - Widest coverage above any other phone carrier in America

Why It’s The Best

  • Has the biggest coverage across America
  • Consistent network speed and performance
  • Unlimited Plans are one of the best offers versus other competing companies
  • Highly recommended for individuals who are constantly communicating and browsing for business purposes or for social purposes
  • Great phone bundles featuring the latest in the market from the likes of Apple and Samsung.

With a huge signal coverage, consistently top network speed and high performance, Verizon is truly an unstoppable force when it comes to quality.

If you’re still pretty skeptical if it does cover your area, then you can take a look at their interactive map right here. The display has been updated as of November 2018.

Interactive map

Stellar Phone Plans with Strong Coverage

Whether it’s the unlimited plans you’re looking at or a much cheaper decision like going for prepaid (which is still not really cheap if compared to other brands), Verizon will always be king when it comes to coverage.

Verizon Mobile Phones and Devices

Of course, Verizon presents the latest and greatest in the phone market today. They offer a good set of discounts if you purchase a particular plan that goes along with the phone.

They also offer the most complete collection of phones from Apple iPhones to Huawei down to even classic flip phones like the Motorola Razr.  

Whether it’s a monthly payment or a full-price purchase, you can always depend on Verizon to make the most out of your phone.

Is Verizon’s Coverage Best For You?

Wherever you may be in America, Verizon will always be there with strong network quality and that’s why it’s the number one in our list. It really is the best wireless coverage.

Here are some things to consider before you subscribe to Verizon Wireless. We don’t want you to end up regretting your decision:

  • If you have a lot of budget and want the best in the country, it’s Verizon that should be in your top spot.
  • If you value traveling due to business purposes, you’ll need Verizon with you.
  • If you’re the business type who constantly has clients all day and night to talk to, Verizon is your best choice.
  • If you don’t happen to be in the metro area or in major states, Verizon has the strongest coverage over rural areas and countrysides whether you’re in the USA, Canada or Mexico.

Cons to Consider

  • Lower-tier plans seem a bit too off
  • Unsatisfactory customer service
  • Can be very expensive in some cases
  • Family plans tend to be too overpriced
  • Overages

Overall Coverage: 10/10

2. AT&T - Almost the same coverage as Verizon but is much cheaper and has the fastest network speed for rural areas

Why It’s the Best

  • Tons of perks in whichever plan you pick
  • Lots of discounts for subscribing to their autopay, paperless billing, and to DIRECTV NOW
  • Beautiful bundles that are difficult to ignore
  • Very strong signal coverage even in rural areas
  • Amazingly consistent internet speed
  • Well-balanced cell phone plans

When it comes to consistency, it does have its moments of throttling that’s why it’s 2nd to Verizon, but the constant speed of more than 10 Mbps in the metro areas alone is enough to make up for the inconsistency.

As for coverage, while the company may cover a very large part of America, you still might want to check their official map if you’re in range because if not, you’d have to either move to a covered area or just find another telecom company.

Here’s an updated map as of November  2018:

US map

It’s not as vast as Verizon but it still covers up a lot of the country. Just take a look at their official map coverage if you want to zoom in where you currently are.

Plans with Great Coverage Wherever You Go

It may have that reputation of always being the second best just slightly right after Verizon but there is no denying that AT&T’s coverage is equally as strong and reliable as Verizon. In fact, some people are saying this should be number one when it comes to coverage reliability.

AT&T has a good selection of plans from sole individuals to a family of five. Whatever you prefer to choose will depend upon your situation.

Phones with Exclusive Coverage Bonuses and Offers

If you’ve decided to choose AT&T, chances are you’re going to be introduced to an exclusive phone plan: The AT&T Next.

This plan is exclusive to their latest phones such as the ongoing Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy Note.

It’s a more complex system in which you can get the phone now and have to pay on a monthly basis for either 30 months or 24 months with some other discounts.

It’s divided into two categories: AT&T Next and AT&T Next Every Year.

Is AT&T’s Coverage the Best for You?

While AT&T is already good for spoiling you with lots of perks, it does have some hiccups such as throttling at random days even if you’re still under the data capacity and the fact that it has slightly lesser coverage than Verizon.

  • AT&T is considered to have the strongest coverage over rural areas so if you happen to live in such region with spending too much, go with AT&T.
  • If you value watching TV as much as using your phone for whatever reason, AT&T is best suited for you.
  • If you need a good family plan with some nice savings on adding lines, this phone carrier does exactly that. Mobile Flex Plans is one of the family-friendliest multiline plans to exist.
  • Are you overwhelmed by Verizon’s overpriced prepaid plans? AT&T’s GoPhone is your answer to getting prepaid with strong coverage minus the overages and high price.
  • Do happen to be a meticulous viewer who only wants 1080p than 729p? The Unlimited &More Premium and Mobile Flex Plans have those for you.

Cons to Consider

  • While it may be more affordable than Verizon, it’s still more expensive versus other phone carriers like Sprint and T-Mobile
  • One-time activation fees are quite expensive
  • Bad customer service

Overall Coverage: 9.7/10

3. T-Mobile - Has really good coverage on major states but can be quite inconsistent in rural areas

Why It’s the Best

  • 4G LTE speeds that will make you say wow
  • Simplified plans that are easier to choose versus other networks
  • Competent unlimited plans that offer so much for a lower cost
  • Taxes and fees are already included in all plans except Essentials plan
  • Extendable up to 12 lines
  • Provides great plans with reasonable prices for the elderly and veterans
  • Good customer service in physical stores

Coming up at 3rd place is T-Mobile for its simplistic plans that make it easy for newcomers and experienced subscribers. Coverage is pretty good for the most part but throttling and weak signals happen too often in the rural areas of the map.

As far as T-Mobile is good when it comes to services as well as with their network itself, coverage is honestly not that great, especially if you’re in the rural areas.

That’s because if you aren’t living in a major city, especially in the countryside, T-Mobile signals are weak.

In fact, it’s highly advisable to pick any other network than T-Mobile if you’re a frequent traveler and cross-country explorer.

Here is the coverage map image which was taken in November 2018:

the coverage map

If you would like to zoom in more to see the smaller details of the map, check out their official coverage page.

Tax-Inclusive

Yes, T-Mobile has the taxes and fees included already within the plan which makes this even a worthier competing plan versus other more expensive phone plans.

No need to worry about the IRS knocking on your door just to pay for this one at all.

That’s where T-Mobile really shines the most versus even the likes of Verizon.

Phones and Other Devices That are Trending in the Market

Just as any major telecom company, they do sell the latest phones too. If you don’t fancy the mainstream and expensive ones, they have older models on sale too.

You can either buy the phone on a full price or pay monthly for 24 months.

If you’re too excited to wait for the phone to arrive, T-Mobile has a scheduled appointment system so all you have to do is skip the line and have your representative give you the phone directly.

The only thing they don’t have, however, is the Google Pixel lineup. If you happen to be a Google Pixel user, you can always bring your own phone to them and let them handle the implementation for you.

T-Mobile’s coverage really complements the available phones especially if you live in a society where you have to have the latest phone to feel relevant and get your self-esteem to help up high.

Is T-Mobile’s Coverage Best for You?

If only T-Mobile had the same coverage as Verizon or even somewhere close as AT&T, this could have been our #1 pick but since it’s so weak in the countryside and rural areas, it has to be at the 3rd place in our list.

  • If you’re a traveler along the country that doesn’t involve rural areas, T-Mobile is awesome to get.
  • Do you live in the metro areas of the state? You should consider getting T-Mobile since it is constantly strong in such areas of America.
  • Are you too concerned over the data capacity that you might fall short? T-Mobile’s ONE and ONE Plus plans have over 50 GB for the taking.
  • If you are planning to use all that 50 GB for a family, we’re happy to say that T-Mobile’s family plans are really good on the money especially since you can extend up to 12 lines.

Cons to Consider

  • Very underwhelming coverage in rural parts of the country
  • If you’re planning to get T-Mobile Essentials, remember that it does not include the taxes and fees yet

Overall Coverage: 8.8/10

4. Metro by T-Mobile - Has almost the same coverage as T-Mobile but is stronger in rural areas

Why It’s the Best

  • A cheaper alternative to T-Mobile
  • Great coverage especially in the metro areas
  • Has also good coverage in the rural parts of America unlike T-Mobile
  • One of the best in prepaid plans
  • Offers up to 5 lines for a low price, making it ideal as a family plan
  • Great unlimited call and text
  • Better customer service than T-Mobile
  • Has free phone offers when you avail any of their plans

This map was taken as of November 2018:

It has some pockets of no coverage but for the major part, it’s good on particular countrysides which makes it very fortunate for people wanting T-Mobile-quality network in their area.

Also, coverage MAY vary from time to time so to be safe, it’s best to always be on the lookout in their coverage map.

Prepaid Plans That are a Treat in Both Benefits and Prices

Ever since Metro PCS has turned into Metro by T-Mobile last September 2018, the plans have also been simplified just like T-Mobile.

These days, Metro has 4 plans: a 2 GB plan, a 10 GB plan, and two unlimited plans – one having an added hotspot data of 5 GB and a Google One 100 GB storage while the other has the same plus Amazon Prime included.

Remarkable Free Phone and Device Offers Besides Their Latest Models

What makes Metro by T-Mobile stand out from the rest in this article is the phone offers – we’re not talking about having the latest and greatest in the market (even though they do have it in Metro) but we’re talking about the fact that they give out phones for free if you subscribe.

Generosity and kindness is always the best for us and having the option to get a free phone is something miraculous for people who are still undecided on what phone they want to purchase.

Is Metro’s Coverage Best For You?

If you’re looking to save up money for a family plan or even solo as a prepaid subscriber, Metro has outdone itself by providing more coverage than ever before and adding more perks for each plan.

  • This is a good choice over T-Mobile if you live in the rural area
  • You’ll save a lot of money if you choose to go prepaid and not wanting the fancy perks you can get in postpaid unlimited plans
  • If you want to have a free phone just as you subscribe, Metro will offer you that.
  • If you’re not much of a phone user and just uses the phone for casual times of calling and texting, Metro is best suited for you.
  • If you don’t mind just watching in SD quality, you’ll certainly be happy with the rest of Metro’s perks especially in the unlimited plan like the mobile hotspot data, Google One with 100 GB storage, and Amazon Prime access.

Cons to Consider

  • Has the least perks in this list
  • Does have tendencies of throttling randomly

Overall Coverage: 8.5/10

5. Sprint - Covers a large part of America on both metro and rural areas but the network quality isn’t as constantly top-notch as other leading carriers

Why It’s The Best

  • Affordable prices versus other leading telecom companies
  • Unlimited Basic is a good starter unlimited plan especially if you don’t mind not having 1080p streaming
  • 4th and 5th lines in any unlimited data plan are free, making all 3 of them eligible for family plans
  • Unlimited Plus is a good phone plan for anyone who wants a high-end unlimited plan without having to pay a lot
  • Both 4GB and Unlimited prepaid plans are much better than other leading phone carriers
  • Adequate Sprint phones that come along with some good discounts
  • A pretty good customer service

When you’re talking about Verizon, AT&T and even T-Mobile, you can’t help but feel like they’re too expensive.

Sprint changes the way people think about high-end phone carriers by providing with more subtle prices that offer really good plans especially for its unlimited service.

It’s high-end but it’s the kind of high-end that  anyone who plans on saving money can still afford.

Also, we’re happy to say that Sprint’s overall coverage has vastly improved since we last reviewed them. Here is the latest coverage as of November 2018:

Sprint map

If you need to zoom in specifically to your hometown, all you have to do is just visit their coverage map site.

Unlimited Postpaid Plans You Can Trust

Given that your area is covered, you’ll want to avail 3 of their unlimited plans more than anything they have in their store. We recommend subscribing to their Autoplan to have that sweet discount.

Phones from the Latest Stocks and the Best Collections of the Year

Sprint is no stranger when it comes to selling the best and latest phones in the market today. Combined with adequate plans that are suitable for the phones as well as having the option to pay monthly or annually, becoming a Sprint user is as easy as 1-2-3.

Is Sprint’s Coverage Best for You?

Sprint has definitely come a long way from being a measly phone carrier into a formidable foe of the biggest ones in the market today. Now that it covers major states and some rural areas, T-Mobile might as well get worried soon.

  • If you like casual perks that are just right and not over the top, it’s Sprint you should want.
  • If it so happens that you don’t like T-Mobile, Sprint is your best alternative
  • Sprint may not be the best for travels but it certainly is good if you’re just around town.
  • Among the postpaid plans by the best phone providers, Sprint certainly has the cheapest.

Cons to Consider

  • Gets affected by strong weather
  • Plans tend to be more complicated than other competitors
  • Random data throttling

Overall Coverage: 8/10

Recap

They’re all great but let’s summarize each phone carrier to see why they have the best phone coverage.

  1. Verizon takes the crown for covering every nook and cranny of America while offering nothing but the priciest yet the best plans one frequent phone user can ever hope for.
  2. AT&T is a close second for providing coverage for major parts of America although throttling tends to happen at areas where coverage isn’t strong enough. Plans are the best for big TV and internet streaming fans.
  3. T-Mobile is super strong in the major states and metro cities but tends to crash down with bad network quality in rural areas. At least its two major unlimited data plans are very delightful to be had.
  4. Metro is the best alternative for T-Mobile with its very affordable prepaid plans minus the major perks and provides great coverage for both the metro areas and rural countrysides.
  5. Sprint is last but the least in coverage as the company has widely improved its coverage and has since then expanded to more cities including rural towns. Its plans are also considered worth checking out as they have the most affordable postpaid plans among the four carriers.

If all these seem too expensive for you and want something simpler for your region, check out our top 5 best prepaid plans instead.

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Sam Churchill
Sam Churchill
Sam Churchill is the founder and editorial in chief at Daily Wireless. He has spent more than 2 decades blogging about all forms of wireless communications.

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Sam Churchill
Sam Churchill is the founder and editorial in chief at Daily Wireless. He has spent more than 2 decades blogging about all forms of wireless communications.

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