Here's A Quick Guide To Picking The Best Carrier For Your iPhone 5

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Photo: Flickr / Jason-Morrison

So you’ve decided to get the iPhone 5.But that’s only half the equation. What service will you choose to make sure your shiny new device stays connected and useful?

The decision might not be as clear-cut as you’d like. Your carrier’s service can depend on a lot of things including how many people are using the network and your location.

We put together a brief guide to help make your decision a little less difficult.

If you want the best possible service in your neighbourhood
You likely use your phone at home and in your immediate neighbourhood more than at any other location.

OpenSignalMaps is a crowdsourced map application that gives a visual indication of different carriers’ signal strengths around the world. Head over to the site, plug in your zip code, and take a look at the recommended carrier for your area. The app will easily identify the carrier with the best coverage and give you a ranking of the others.

If you only care about data speed
All the American iPhone carriers except T-Mobile offer super-speedy LTE data connections (T-Mobile doesn’t officially sell the iPhone, but will let you use an unlocked device on its network). If you want the fastest possible internet data, take a look at Sprint, AT&T, or Verizon. Just make sure to pick a carrier that covers your area with LTE connectivity.

Verizon offers LTE in far more cities than Sprint and AT&T, so chances are if you live in a sizeable town, you’ll be able to connect to its 4G network. AT&T’s LTE service is available in most major cities. Sprint only offers LTE in a handful of cities at the moment.

And all networks are constantly expanding their LTE networks, so ask your carrier if you’re covered.

If you’re a data fiend
If you’re a hardcore mobile web browser and want unlimited and unmetered data each month, go with Sprint. The company’s catchphrase is “truly unlimited data” with good reason – one flat monthly rate gets you an all-you-can-eat data plan. You can get unlimited data starting at $79.99 per month. (That price includes 450 minutes of talk time.)

If you need to make a phone call from anywhere
Verizon’s national coverage is unparalleled. Based on our personal experience, we’d absolutely recommend it for those times when you need to make a phone call from the middle of nowhere. And according to a recent poll in PC Mag, others agree that Verizon is the iPhone carrier with the best voice coverage.

If you want the most affordable plan
This will obviously differ based on your needs. Each carrier offers a straightforward chart to help you figure out what your monthly bill would be with a given amount of voice minutes, SMS messages, and internet data. Take a look at what each carrier will charge based on your needs and make a decision from there. Overall, T-Mobile and Sprint have the cheapest plans.

T-Mobile >

AT&T >

Verizon >

Sprint >

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