PCMag Crowns T-Mobile the Best Mobile Network of 2022
PCMag sent a team of testers (including our old friend Rob Pegoraro) to drive more than 10,000 miles across the United States to test the three big cellular networks—AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon—to see which one is best. (Not fastest, but “best,” which incorporates peak, average, and above-the-line speeds, plus dropped calls.) Perhaps surprisingly, the overall winner was T-Mobile, which has expanded its coverage significantly since merging with Sprint. T-Mobile isn’t always the fastest and doesn’t always have the best coverage, but when all factors balance out, PCMag found that T-Mobile beats out both AT&T and Verizon. T-Mobile’s secret sauce is its extensive mid-band 5G network, which offers reliable high-speed access in both cities and many rural areas.
Another interesting tidbit in the article is that for many people, mobile has become the primary way to access the Internet:
Mobile internet is the internet, now more than ever. According to Ericsson, between 2018 and 2022, mobile data traffic in North America quadrupled from 22 exabytes to 86 exabytes. Most of that growth is driven by the revolution in mobile video, which has risen from 60% to 70% of mobile data traffic. That’s almost 20 gigs of usage, per person, per month.
Increasingly, the online world is mobile. Also, we are officially old, having failed miserably to watch that much video on our iPhones in any month ever.
I’ve been with T-Mobile since they were called Omnipoint then VoiceStream. I had them when their coverage was… What’s the technical term? Oh yeah… crappy. I kept them because they had decent customer service.
I got an iPhone 12 Pro mainly because I needed a new iPhone and wanted the good camera, but got my wife the iPhone SE without 5G. No need because 5G wasn’t going to be active for years. A waste of money according to all tech sites. A month after I got my iPhone, I started getting 5G service.
It didn’t matter because it was still on the 600MHz band. No faster than LTE. A few months later, I downloaded a 800Mb file on my phone, and noticed it took a few brief seconds. I suddenly realized I was on the 2400Mhz band downloading 500Mbps.
The 5GUC coverage as T-Mobile calls it is everywhere in my area. I turn off my WiFi in most public places because my 5G data is way faster. I’ve been doing a lot of tethering my iPad and Mac with my iPhone even if I have WiFi because of the speed. It is incredible. I’ve been to Austin and Dallas and Tampa and LA. All extremely high speed service almost everywhere in town and even popular rural parks.
Verizon is just beginning to get up to speed, but their two years behind T-Mobile in installing their network. Many people in my area are also switching from Optimum cable to T-Mobile’s 5G Home Internet service too.
If I knew 5G midband Service would have been deployed this fast, I would have gotten my wife an iPhone 12 Mini.
Around these parts, T-Mobile’s 5GUC is no better than LTE used to be in terms of raw throughput (usually <10 Mbps real-world). But to me the real advantage is that coverage nevertheless still got better. Not a whole lot, but noticeable. OTOH I have yet to ever see a single 5GUW connection.
I’m not super happy with T-Mobile (too expensive compared to overseas carriers along with typically overselling & underdelivering), but I’m certain I wouldn’t be happier dealing with AT&T or with Verizon. I’m still haunted by years of having dealt with Comcast before we got fiber at our house. Even when I’m not happy with bandwidth or coverage, at least with T-Mobile I know I’m spared dealing with a whole bunch of corporate shenanigans.
I’m curious. Did you have to upgrade your T-Mobile plan to obtain 5G coverage. I was talking to an Apple rep the other day and showed him my old SE, which I’m thinking of upgrading. It supports LTE and I’ve had a T-Mobile plan since I bought the phone. He checked my number and said my current plan does not include 5G coverage and, if I wanted it, T-mobile would probably ask me to upgrade my plan. He also mentioned that for eSim support, I might need an upgraded plan. Frankly, I’m paying enough right now and don’t use the phone all that much, so I’m not very eager to pay more for services I don’t use.
No. However, I was on a fairly current plan. It might be possible that if you were on a very old and ancient plan, your plan might not cover 5G. However, T-Mobile supports 5G on its pre-paid plans and even some third party VMNO plans, so I doubt it.
I suspect your plan might not support 5G because your phone doesn’t.
If I wanted [5G], T-mobile would probably ask me to upgrade my plan. Updating your plan doesn’t mean it’ll be more expensive. I upgraded from the One Plan to the Simple Plan to the Magenta Plan because they were literally cheaper. Download the T-Mobile app and take a look at your current plan and what it’ll cost to upgrade. It might even be cheaper.
OK. Thanks. I may stop by a T-Mobile store and ask them. I don’t have a prepaid plan. I simply have one of those unlimited plans for a fixed fee monthly and am billed automatically.
I have one of T-Mobile’s $15/month pre-paid plans, and an iPhone 12, and 5G, and it’s all terrific. And I had T-Mobile convert my regular SIM to an e-SIM (no change in my phone number or service, but a different sim number) so that I can slip a physical SIM card into the phone if I ever get one, such as when traveling overseas. I was previously on a Magenta Plan with 2GB data for something like $55/mo, and my $15/mo prepaid plan with 2GB data is identical in every way for service — just much, much cheaper.
You will probably get much better true answers from a google search than from any T-Mobile employee.
Oh, that’s interesting. Because I was told that if I had a prepaid plan (I don’t) that I wouldn’t be eligible for 5G or an e-Sim without upgrading my plan. Not sure what plan I have but I have always paid about $54/mo. for unlimited service. Thanks for the info.
When were you told this? Companies change plans and policies all the time. So the rule that was in effect then might not be in effect today.
Was told this at Apple. However, I went to a T-mobile store this afternoon and the manager said I’m good to go and there’ll be no problem upgrading the phone for eSim. Said it would be less expensive to buy the unlocked phone from Apple though.
For folks that are not seeing 5G service, it’s a good idea to look at your SIM. If you are someone who keeps using the old SIM as you upgrade phones, the SIM may not support 5G or other network features that are too new to work with the old SIMs. I’ve seen that happen a lot.
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