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T-Mobile vs. AT&T: Which is the Better Carrier in 2024?

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T-Mobile vs. AT&T: Which is the Better Carrier in 2024?

T- Mobile and AT&T are among the telecommunications industry’s top wireless carriers and rivals. As such, they compete in their plans in a bid to win a bigger share of the market. For instance, AT&T offers better internet coverage (overall) than T-Mobile, with excellent coverage in rural areas. On the other hand, T-Mobile delivers faster data speeds than AT&T. The two carriers are on the higher side as far as pricing, but T-Mobile is less expensive overall. This competition is also well portrayed in other aspects like customer service and benefits. If you want to switch your plan to either of the two, here is a comprehensive guide to the question — is AT&T better than T-Mobile?

T-Mobile vs. AT&T: Side-by-Side Comparison

T-Mobile vs AT&T Infographic
T-MobileAT&T
Mobile Unlimited Data Plans: Monthly Price/Annual PriceEssential: $60 / N/A
Magenta: $70 / $840
Magenta Max: $85 / $1,020
Unlimited Starter: $65 / N/A
Unlimited Extra: $75 / $900
Unlimited Elite: $85 / $1,020
U.S. Coverage 4G LTE/5G62% of the country / 68.5%68% of the country / 55.8%
Data Speed 4G LTE/5G116.54 Mbps / 187.33 Mbps54.64 Mbps / 71.54 Mbps
Priority/Premium DataEssential: 50GB 
Magenta: 100GB
Magenta MAX: Unlimited
Unlimited Starter: 0GB
Unlimited Extra: 50GB
Unlimited Elite: Unlimited
Family Plans: Prices per Month (1 Line / 4 Lines)Essential: $60 / $120 
Magenta: $70 / $140
Magenta Max: $85 / $170
Unlimited Starter: $65 / $140
Unlimited Extra: $75 / $160
Unlimited Premium: $85 / $200
Hotspot Data AllowancesEssential Unlimited: 3G data
Magenta: 5GB
Magenta MAX: 40GB
Unlimited Starter: None
Unlimited Extra: 15GB
Unlimited Premium: 50GB
Perks?Netflix Standard (HD, two lines)
Paramount Plus
Apple TV+ (for Magenta and Magenta MAX plans)
None

T-Mobile vs. AT&T: What’s the Difference?

T-Mobile and AT&T mobile plans feature differences in their data plans, pricing, premium data, data speed, coverage, customer service, and other aspects, which explain the differences in their market shares and customer base.

This section outlines the significant differences between the two carriers to help you determine which is the better option in 2024.

Mobile Coverage

AT&T beats T-Mobile regarding 4G LTE coverage, dominating 68% of the United States. T-Mobile, which boasts 62% 4G LTE network coverage, lacks 4G infrastructure in some rural areas hence their 6% variance in 4G LTE coverage. 

However, T-Mobile tops the game when it comes to 5G coverage. A recent 5G coverage test report by OOKLA indicates that T-Mobile has 68.5% 5G coverage against AT&T’s 55.8%. So, who is the overall winner? To answer this, we’ll need to look at the reliability of the 4G and 5G networks today.

The 4G network is available to almost all smart devices, allowing smartphone owners to connect to the internet. 

On the other hand, the 5G network has yet to reach its full potential in infrastructure and compatibility with the available smart devices. 

So, comparing the two carriers in terms of 5G coverage will be unfair, giving AT&T a win over T-Mobile in the battle for broader coverage.  

T mobile logo illuminated with magenta lights
T-Mobile loses in the category of coverage, as AT&T offers a wider network even in rural areas.

High-Speed Data

T-Mobile and AT&T offer high-speed data in their first-tier and mid-tier unlimited data plans. The premium/high-speed data refers to the cap data that should give you maximum speed and performance without latency. 

In other words, you may start experiencing slow speeds should your network get congested after depleting the high-speed data allotted.

For T-Mobile, the unlimited data plans include:

  • Essential plan, which includes 50GB priority or high-speed data
  • Magenta, which comes with 100GB of high-speed/ premium data

On the other hand, the AT&T unlimited data plans include:

  • Unlimited Starter plan, which offers 0GB premium data
  • AT&T Unlimited Extra, which includes 50GB of high-speed data

T-Mobile’s Magenta MAX and AT&T’s Unlimited Elite plans in the top tier plans offer unlimited data, meaning you won’t experience any delays.  

Here, T-Mobile wins since AT&T’s 50GB premium data in its mid-tier plan can’t match T-Mobile’s 50GB and 100GB premium data in the first and mid-tiers.

Prices

As mentioned earlier, T-Mobile and AT&T are among the top carriers in the telecommunication industry. As such, they offer high-end mobile plans and services at higher prices than other carriers excluding Verizon.

So, how do their prices compare? Below is a breakdown of their first, mid, and top-tier prices and offerings.

First-Tier Prices

First-tier plans are both carriers’ cheapest and least powerful plans. For T-Mobile, the first tier plan is Essential, while AT&T’s is the Unlimited Starter.

Both plans give you access to unlimited data, talk, and text. In addition, both plans allow you to access 5G networks and have a throttle video quality of 480 pixels.

On the downside, both plans are deprioritized, meaning that you will always be a victim of data slowdowns should the network get congested.

T-Mobile’s Essential goes for $60 per month, while the price for AT&T’s Unlimited Starter is $65 per month.

Mid-Tier Prices

The middle tier includes T-Mobile’s Magenta and AT&T’s Unlimited Extra plans with monthly prices of $70 and $75, respectively. 

One notable thing about the two carriers is that they replace the first tier’s data deprioritization with a data cap. 

More specifically, T-Mobile’s Magenta offers a data cap of 100GB, which compares to AT&T’s Unlimited Extra 50GB. As mentioned earlier, the data cap implies that your speeds will remain fast until you hit your cap, when they may start slowing down.

Both plans include high-speed hotspot data, with T-Mobile’s Magenta 5GB losing the win to AT&T’s 15GB. Also, AT&T gives you a free Stadia Pro Pass, valid for six months.

Here, T-Mobile wins due to its lower price and high-speed data cap, as AT&T’s perks are meaningless with slow data.

Top-Tier Prices

T-Mobile and AT&T offer their top-tiered plans, Magenta Max and Unlimited Premium, respectively, both at $85 per month for a single line.

The biggest advantage of going for either T-Mobile’s Magenta Max or AT&T’s Unlimited Elite plans is that they offer you authentic unlimited high-speed data, talks, and text, devoid of data caps, throttling, or deprioritization.

In addition, both plans offer you 40GB of hotspot data and a free streaming subscription.

What sets the two carriers’ top-tier plans apart is T-Mobile’s free Netflix subscription and AT&T’s HBO Max free subscription.

Overall, T-Mobile is the cheaper carrier since first and mid-tier plans offer significant cost savings.

Hotspot Data Savings

T-Mobile offers 3GB in its Essential plan, 5GB hotspot data for the Magenta plan, and 40GB for the Magenta Max plan. 

AT&T mobile, on the other hand, gives you 0GB in its Unlimited Starter plan, 15GB in Unlimited Extra, and 50GB in its Unlimited Elite plan.

Looking at the first-tier hotspot data allowances, you might give the win to T-Mobile due to its 3GB hotspot data. However, the truth is that the 3GB hotspot data won’t give you speed in a congested network. 

Considering the mid-tier and top-tier hotspot data offerings from both carriers, AT&T carries the day with an extra 10GB in both tiers.

largest telecommunications companies
AT&T offers better hotspot coverage when you’re on the go.

Family Plans

Saving money in either T-Mobile or AT&T carriers’ mobile plans is challenging unless you adopt a family plan. A family plan is as simple as adding lines to your account. Yes, T-Mobile and AT&T can earn significant savings on their unlimited data plans when you add lines to your account.

However, T-Mobile offers better savings at all levels. To explain it further, let’s look at the single-line and 4 line prices per month for all carriers at all levels in the table below.

T-Mobile Plan

PlanPrice per Single T-Mobile Line ($)Price for Four Lines($) 
Essential 60120
Magenta70140
Magenta MAX85170

AT&T Mobile Plan

PlanPrice per Single AT&T Line ($)Price for Four Lines($)
Unlimited Starter65140
Unlimited Extra75160
Unlimited Premium85200

Looking at the above table, it’s clear that a family plan earns you significant savings per line regardless of your carrier. Comparing the family plans for both carriers, T-Mobile charges $20 less than AT&T, hence taking the lead.

Data Performance

T-Mobile has the fastest data speeds for 4G and 5G networks in the telecommunications industry. According to the OOKLA report, T-Mobile had the highest download speed of 151.37 Mbps, followed by Verizon’s 69.01 Mbps and AT&T’s 65.57 Mbps.

Also, T-Mobile has the fastest upload speed of 12.53 Mbps, which compares to Verizon’s 9.33 Mbps and AT&T’s 7.19 Mbps.

Further, T-Mobile beats AT&T in the following data aspects. 

4G LTE Network

Data AspectT-MobileAT&T
Median Multi-Server Latency50ms60ms
Performance Consistency86.8%81.1%
Video Performance75.93%69.91%

5G Network

Data AspectT-MobileAT&T
Video Performance79.38%71.74%
Download Speed216.56 Mbps85.39 Mbps
Median Multi-Server Latency54ms59ms
Consistency 77.2%69%

It’s clear that T-Mobile tramples AT&T on all data aspects, according to the comparison table above. The test results above further indicate that T-Mobile is the ultimate carrier for lag-free gaming, precise HD streaming, and seamless Facetime calls. 

Customer Service

Like most other telecommunication service providers, T-Mobile and AT&T need to attend to their customers better.

Customers from both ends have had complaints about unresponsive customer service agents, long waiting times, and complex systems that need to be addressed. Both carriers have failed, meaning they need to restrategize on service.

T-Mobile vs. AT&T: 12 Must Know Facts

  • Overall, AT&T has better coverage than T-Mobile.
  • T-Mobile is less expensive than AT&T overall.
  • T-Mobile has faster data speeds than AT&T.
  • T-Mobile has the best family plans with significant savings in the first and mid-tier.
  • Both carriers offer high-speed hotspot data in their mid- and top tiers.
  • T-Mobile offers you a Netflix subscription in its Magenta MAX plan.
  • Both T-Mobile and AT&T include data de-prioritization and data caps in their first and mid-tier.
  • AT&T gives you HBO Max free subscription in its unlimited elite plans.
  • Both carriers offer significant savings in the family data plan.
  • The duo offers free streaming subscription in their top-tier plans.
  • T-Mobile offers more premium data than AT&T in their first and mid-tier plans. 
  • T-Mobile concentrates more on densely populated regions, while AT&T is available in both urban and rural areas.

T-Mobile vs. AT&T: Which is the Better Carrier in 2024?

T-Mobile and AT&T are among the biggest carriers in the industry. Both carriers offer their plans/services at higher prices, but T-Mobile is slightly cheaper in its first and mid-tier plans.

In addition, T-Mobile has faster data performance than AT&T, making it the ultimate option in areas where you get almost the same coverage from both carriers. 

In terms of coverage, AT&T offers 4% more coverage than T-Mobile due to its excellent coverage in rural areas. We recommend you go for AT&T carrier if you frequently go outside populated areas.

So, which is the best carrier in 2024? T-Mobile would be the overall winner if it offered equally good coverage for rural areas like AT&T. However, that is not the case, and its high-speed data is meaningless in areas without internet signals. This gives AT&T the overall win.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is T-Mobile 5G better than AT&T 5G?

Yes. According to the OpenSignal report, T-Mobile’s 5G beats AT&T in almost all aspects, including video performance, download speed, median multi-server latency, and network consistency. The test results are backed by the OOKLA report, making T-Mobile the winner.

What are the benefits of switching to AT&T?

AT&T will give you a network signal regardless of your location. You will also enjoy excellent data performance. This is not forgetting the carrier’s discounts on activation fees and bill credits that you get upon switching to the carrier.

What are the benefits of switching to T-Mobile?

T-Mobile will charge lower upfront costs on its latest devices and data plans than AT&T. You will also enjoy the fast data performances it offers.

Must I switch to a 5G network?

No. You don’t have to switch to 5G since 4G offers excellent performance in the most recent apps. On the same note, there has yet to be a major app specifically tailored to use the 5G network.

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