Carrier strength drives smartphone selections

Summary:Jason Hiner earlier posted on his buying decision between the iPhone 3G S and Palm Pre and as this blockbuster smartphone Summer kicks off I imagine that many prospective buyers will be looking at the available choices. Fellow MoTR podcast co-host James Kendrick actually owns the flagship device from each of the four major US wireless carriers and posted his thoughts on which phone/carrier combo would he choose that I think you should also check out as you look for a new smartphone. I'll offer my opinion as well since I have tried these devices and carriers as well. As you will see the choice for each personal is highly dependent on their carrier signal strength and performance in the location where they live and work.

Jason Hiner earlier posted on his buying decision between the iPhone 3G S and Palm Pre and as this blockbuster smartphone Summer kicks off I imagine that many prospective buyers will be looking at the available choices. Fellow MoTR podcast co-host James Kendrick actually owns the flagship device from each of the four major US wireless carriers and posted his thoughts on which phone/carrier combo would he choose that I think you should also check out as you look for a new smartphone. I'll offer my opinion as well since I have tried these devices and carriers as well. As you will see the choice for each personal is highly dependent on their carrier signal strength and performance in the location where they live and work.

James has the iPhone 3G on AT&T, Palm Pre on Sprint, BlackBerry Storm on Verizon, and T-Mobile G1 on T-Mobile. He posted his personal rankings on the devices alone, the carriers, and then the phone/carrier combo ranking. James ranks the Palm Pre/Sprint combo above all else with the iPhone 3G/AT&T combo ranking fourth, while Jason chose the iPhone 3G S over the Palm Pre, even though he sees a substandard AT&T voice service. Like myself, Jason is much more of a data user than a voice user with his smartphones so data was his major need.

I have tried the Palm Pre on Sprint, BlackBerry Storm on Verizon, T-Mobile G1 on T-Mobile and iPhone 3G S on AT&T, much like James, but I never did buy the Storm on Verizon. As readers know, preferences are highly dependent on carrier service for your particular area and if I was to take James' article to layout my own rankings here is what I would choose in terms of devices:

  1. iPhone 3G S
  2. T-Mobile G1
  3. Palm Pre
  4. BlackBerry Storm

The iPhone 3G S has the best selection for applications and with the new iPhone 3.0 OS, I am getting just about everything I need with Exchange support. The only thing I miss is the ability to multitask with the device. I know people hammer the T-Mobile G1 as a clunky device, but I personally find the keyboard to be excellent and the OS to be quite a pleasure to use with a good solid offering of mobile applications. While there are very few applications for the Palm Pre I thought the OS was much like the iPhone, but with true multitasking. If it was available on AT&T or T-Mobile I would jump on the device and be a Pre owner. The Storm is a very nice device, especially with the latest firmware, but I am not sold on the display technology and find it a bit awkward to use at times.

In terms of carrier quality and signal strength, here is what works best for me:

  1. AT&T
  2. T-Mobile
  3. Verizon Wireless
  4. Sprint

I know that people are always slamming AT&T, but honestly I have only had a couple of dropped calls in the last 2+ years and just about always see a full 3.5G data signal where I work, live, and play. I also see an outstanding T-Mobile signal in these same areas, but their 3G data network is still very limited. Verizon Wireless works in most areas, except it is still a bit weak at my house. With the Palm Pre, I never saw a very strong Sprint signal where I commute or live and could not get over the weak signal strength enough to stick with the carrier.

Looking at my two phone and carrier rankings, here is my carrier/phone combo rankings that you can use to compare to James. Keep in mind that I live in the Puget Sound, Washington area and James lives in the Houston, Texas area.

  1. AT&T/iPhone 3G S
  2. T-Mobile/T-Mobile G1
  3. Verizon Wireless/BlackBerry Storm
  4. Sprint/Palm Pre

Feel free to chime in with your carrier/phone combo rankings. As you can tell, the smartphones are all quite good and I think it really comes down to the strength of the carrier in your selected location that drives which device works best for you.

Topics: AT&T, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Smartphones, Telcos

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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