What to do? iPhone 5 & 6; Verizon & T-Mobile

I’m approaching the end of my contract with Verizon. This leaves me with two decisions to make: 1) stay with Verizon or switch to T-Mobile, and 2) keep my iPhone 5 or upgrade? Unfortunately, these decisions are intertwined in a way that makes my head spin.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Verizon’s network is fantastic, especially for its coverage. I have reception even in the boonies of Texas. My interaction with customer service has been minimal and acceptable.

T-Mobile’s coverage is simply not as complete as Verizon’s. However, in my city, they have strong LTE service, both by their own measure and that of OpenSignal. This leads me to believe that their HSPA+ 21Mbps service is also excellent (more on why this matters later). To their credit, streaming from approved services does not count against LTE data, and Simple Choice plans come with unlimited non-LTE data. Further, they include international data and text at no additional cost (good, because I hope to travel overseas next year). 

For me, switching from carrier to “Un-carrier” is a matter of whether the pull of T-Mobile is strong enough. It is not a matter of being pushed out of a relationship with Verizon.

What do you mean, “IF I should upgrade”?

Sure, Verizon says I’m eligible to upgrade; “eligible” and “required” mean very different things. I actually like my iPhone 5 more than the iPhone 6, especially for its flat sides and volume buttons. The camera is acceptable, and I am not particularly enticed by the larger screen of the iPhone 6 (improved polarization is a bigger deal to me). The only thing I miss on my iPhone is Touch ID, which isn’t enough reason to upgrade. So when it comes to upgrading my thought process is as follows:

  • Stay on Verizon, keep the iPhone 5.
  • Switch to T-Mobile:
    • Keep the iPhone 5 (A1429) and be limited to HSPA+ (theoretical speeds up to 21Mbps).
    • upgrade to the iPhone 6 to have LTE.

Decision Time 

    I wrote the majority of this post a couple weeks ago, and decided to contemplate the choice. Ultimately, I think the best choice right now is to keep my iPhone 5 on Verizon, and maybe use a T-Mobile nano-SIM when I go overseas.  My phone is good, and my portion of the Verizon bill is the same as I would pay on T-Mobile, but with superior coverage in the US.