Cellular Carriers for Your iPhone 4S - dummies

Cellular Carriers for Your iPhone 4S

By Edward C. Baig, Bob LeVitus

AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and most recently C Spire have started selling versions of the iPhone 4S. Sprint and C Spire offer unlimited data plans starting at around $70 per month. Verizon and AT&T used to offer unlimited data plans but now charge based on usage, though those of you who signed up for such a plan previously have been grandfathered in.

AT&T offers a $15 a monthly plan, with 200MB of data, roughly enough to send or receive about 1,000 e-mails without attachments and about 150 messages with attachments. You can also view about 400 web pages, post about 50 photos on social media sites, and watch about 20 minutes of streaming video. If you exceed 200MB of usage, you’ll receive an additional 200MB within the cycle for $15.

The AT&T plan costs $25 per month and gives you 2GB of data, enough to send or receive approximately 10,000 e-mails without attachments and 1,500 e-mails with attachments, view 4,000 web pages, post 500 photos to social media sites, or watch 200 minutes of streaming video. If you exceed 2GB, you can get another 1GB for $10.

AT&T has claimed that 98 percent of smartphone customers use less than 2GB. So think long and hard about your anticipated usage before choosing a plan. It’s also worth noting that these charges apply only to accessing cellular 3G and EDGE networks and don’t count when you connect via Wi-Fi in your home, office, or elsewhere.

AT&T also has a $45 4GB plan that includes tethering, or the capability to use your iPhone as a broadband modem for other devices you might carry, such as laptops and netbooks, but alas not Apple’s own iPad tablet or iPod touch.

Verizon’s combined entry-level voice and data plan goes for about $70 a month and includes 2GB of data and 450 voice minutes. Verizon also lets you use the iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S as a 3G mobile hotspot that lets your phone act as a mobile Wi-Fi connection for up to five devices.

C Spire offers a basic $25 monthly rate for 250 voice minutes and unlimited text, picture messages, and IMs. Their highest-end package gives you unlimited talk, text, and streaming for $100 per month. You can also IM and use GPS as much as you like.