Verizon and Sprint — they’re 2 of the biggest wireless phone carriers in the world, and part of the Big 4 networks providers in the U.S. Surely you’ve heard of them?
There are stark differences between the two: Verizon regularly places as #1 for network coverage and speed in 3rd-party tests like those run by OpenSignal and RootMetrics, often placing them in first place for the Big 4.
But how do Sprint and Verizon stackup directly against each other? You may think it’s an easy win, but don’t be so sure. To find out, we checked out both carriers in categories such as price, plans, data, coverage, customer service, and device availability.
Read on to learn what we found.
Sprint vs. Verizon: Price
|Sprint||Unlimited Kickstart||$25/mo.||View plans|
|Verizon||$35 Prepaid Smartphone||$35/mo.||View plans|
|Verizon||$45 Prepaid Smartphone||$45/mo.||View plans|
|Verizon||5GB Prepaid||$55/mo.||View plans|
|Sprint||Unlimited Basic||$60/mo.||View plans|
|Sprint||Unlimited Plus||$60/mo.*||View plans|
|Verizon||$65 Prepaid Unlimited Smartphone||$65/mo.||View plans|
|Sprint||Unlimited Premium||$70/mo.||View plans|
|Verizon||Go Unlimited||$75/mo.||View plans|
|Verizon||Beyond Unlimited||$85/mo.||View plans|
|Verizon||Above Unlimited||$95/mo.||View plans|
It’s a pretty clear win for Sprint when it comes to price per month — even their top plan (Unlimited Premium) is $5 cheaper than Verizon’s bottom-tier unlimited plan (Go Unlimited). And as top-tier plans go, Sprint’s Premium is far and away cheaper than Verizon’s Above by $25 bucks a month.
Go buy yourself a PS4 with the $300 bucks Sprint just saved you this year.
Additional fees are the same when it comes to both carriers — activation fees come out to about $30, regardless of which carrier you choose. But those are one-time things, and Sprint even waives it if you buy your phone and plan online. Not Verizon, though, so that’s another win for Sprint.
Both carriers offer multiple discounts. First up is the common one -- the autopay discount. You’ll save $5 bucks a line for both carriers. Verizon has a restriction, though: no credit cards. It’s debit only.
The other discounts are pretty widespread between the two, but both offer discounts for certain employers, new subscribers, and military veterans and members.
Sprint even has a plan designed specifically for military members that matches up pretty close to their Unlimited Plus plan:
- $60 for the first line;
- $20 for the second; and
- $10 for each line after.
Verizon’s military discounts give you a broader range of options that can be applied to each of their plans:
- $15-$40 a month off unlimited plans (depending on number of lines);
- 15% off select plans; and
- 25% off some accessories.
Whether Verizon or Sprint’s military discounts will be a good deal depends on you: what plans you’re looking at, your location, etc. Both take care of the men and women in uniform pretty well.
Verizon also provides the same military discounts to first responders — Police, Fire, and EMS. Sprint does not.
Sprint vs. Verizon: Plans + data
|Sprint||Unlimited Basic||Unlimited, slows after 50GB||
|Sprint||Unlimited Plus||Unlimited, slows after 50GB||
||$60/mo. limited time, $70/mo. regular||View plans|
|Sprint||Unlimited Premium||Unlimited, slows after 100GB||
||$80/mo. limited time, $90/mo. regular||View plans|
|Sprint||Unlimited 55+**||Unlimited, slows after 23GB||
|Sprint||Unlimited Military||Unlimited, slows after 50GB||
|Verizon||Go Unlimited||Unlimited, can be slowed at any time||
|Verizon||Beyond Unlimited||Slowed down after 22GB/month||
|Verizon||Above Unlimited||Slowed down after 75GB/month||
|Verizon||$65/mo. Prepaid smartphone||Unlimited full speed, can be throttled anytime||
Sprint and Verizon both offer -- and focus on marketing -- their unlimited plans options. Both have 4 options (6 for Sprint if you count the Senior and Military options), but Sprint’s data deprioritization thresholds start out higher than Verizon -- 50GB of 4G LTE data starting at the Basic level.
Verizon, in contrast, only offers 22GB of 4G LTE before they start throttling — except at the Above Unlimited level, which gives you 75GB. But even at that level, Sprint’s top-tier plan option gives you 100GB before slowing you down each month, $5-$15 cheaper, depending on discounts.
That said, Verizon’s plans are pretty well-packed with features, like their middle-tier option, Beyond Unlimited — it has a 15GB hotspot allowance in addition to the 22GB data threshold. Plus, HD video streaming and some international perks, like TravelPass.
But even then, Verizon has a hard time beating Sprint. Sprint offers HD video streaming and a 15GB hotspot on their middle-tier plan as well — Unlimited Plus also includes Hulu on demand and a Tidal music subscription, free of cost. And again, their cheaper.
The win has to go to Sprint here.
|Sprint||Single Line 2GB||2GB full speed||
|Verizon||Small||2GB 4G LTE||
|Verizon||Medium||4GB 4G LTE||
|Verizon||Large||8GB 4G LTE||
When it comes to limited-data options, Verizon offers more than Sprint. Sprint has just one: a 2GB plan. Verizon, however, gives you 3 to choose from: Small, Medium, or Large.
|Carrier||Plan (Family)||Data||Price (4 lines)||View Plans|
|Sprint||Unlimited Basic||Unlimited||$100*||View plans|
|Sprint||Unlimited Plus||Unlimited||$100*||View plans|
|Sprint||Unlimited Premium||Unlimited||$180*||View plans|
|Verizon||Go Unlimited Family plan||Unlimited||$160/mo. + upfront cost||View plans|
|Verizon||Beyond Unlimited Family plan||Unlimited||$200/mo. + upfront cost||View plans|
|Verizon||Above Unlimited Family plan||Unlimited||$240/mo. + upfront cost||View plans|
|Verizon||Prepaid family plan (Mixed, 3GB ex.)||3GB||$120/mo. + upfront cost||View plans|
|Verizon||Prepaid family plan (unlimited)||Unlimited||$240/mo. + upfront cost||View plans|
*All plans reflect current promotional discounts
Both carriers offer a lot of multiline options — pretty much any plan is fair game, whether it’s an unlimited, prepaid, or limited-data option. It’s worth noting that again, when it comes to price, Sprint wins out — especially with their current discounts.
But you’ll pay for that when it comes to coverage, as you’ll soon find.
Essentially, with Sprint you’ll get cheaper family plans with plenty of perks (Hulu, Tidal, etc.), but poorer coverage.
Sprint vs. Verizon: Coverage + performance
Verizon, top; Sprint, bottom.
Finally — we reach a very important point: coverage and performance. We’ll spoil the comparison right away:
Verizon wins, no-contest.
Verizon Wireless simply has better coverage and speeds than Sprint and anyone else (although T-Mobile is hard on their tail for speed). According to OpenSignal and RootMetrics, Verizon handily won in nearly every category: 1st place for coverage, and 1st or 2nd for speed.
Sprint, however, did not place at all in any category, coming in deadlast. Their commercials claim less than 1% difference in speed, and their coverage map actually looks pretty good — but no. They’ve never come in 1st or 2nd place for speed or coverage, and studies consistently place them in 3rd or 4th place.
But if you live in a city, metro, or surrounding area, you’ll probably be okay.
That said, though, T-Mobile and Sprint have been attempting to join forces in a merger to improve both of their offerings. That’s been slow-moving, however -- so we’ll see.
Sprint vs. Verizon: Customer service
Verizon wins again here. J.D. Power ranked Verizon as the 2nd-place winner for customer service, with 4 out of 5 power circles — only T-Mobile customers were more satisfied. Sprint came in last place, with just 2 power circles.
In fact, Verizon was ranked about 11 points above the industry average (Verizon: 822 points; average: 811), while Sprint was ranked well below the average (755 points).
Sprint has some work to do. Hopefully that merger with customer-service leader T-Mobile will improve them here.
Sprint vs. Verizon: Devices
|Sprint + Verizon||iPhone iPhone X iPhone XS iPhone XS Max iPhone 6s iPhone 6s Plus iPhone XR iPhone 8 plus iPhone 8 plus iPhone 7 iPhone 7 Plus||Samsung Galaxy S10 Samsung Galaxy S10+ Samsung Galaxy S10e Samsung Galaxy S8 Samsung Galaxy S9 Samsung Galaxy Note9 Samsung Galaxy J3 V 3rd Gen Samsung Galaxy J7 V 2nd Gen||Google Pixel 3 XL Google Pixel 3 Google Pixel 2 XL|
It doesn’t matter much if you want the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy — both Verizon and Sprint will have it. And, while Verizon used to have a monopoly on Google Pixels, the Google phones have recently arrived at Sprint and other carriers, knocking off the Big Red’s advantage here.
Really the only difference is if you want a Google Pixel 2, instead of 3 — you’ll have to bring your own with Sprint, while Verizon still carries the older model Google phone in-store.
Sprint vs. Verizon: Perks + special features
Just when you thought they were down for the count, Sprint gets back up. Verizon can’t beat Sprint’s perks.
All of Sprint’s unlimited plans come with a free Hulu Limited Commercials streaming subscription. Plus you get international data (2G speeds) and texting in more than 100 countries. At the Plus level you get Tidal music added on, and at Premium you get Tidal, Lookout, and Amazon Prime in addition to Hulu.
Verizon, however, doesn’t give you much for perks: you can get a good deal if you bundle with Verizon Fios internet, but that’s about it — and unlike Verizon’s wireless network, Fios is pretty restricted to the east coast.
If you live somewhere Verizon Fios is available, check out their Double Play or Triple Play if you’re thinking about signing up for Verizon Wireless service -- you’ll get $10 off your phone bill + $10 off your Fios bill.
Recap: Which one’s right for you?
When it comes to overall performance and speed, Verizon is better than Sprint — and any other carriers, for that matter. You can go just about anywhere in the U.S. and be confident that your phone will have good service (within reason). Plus, Verizon has great customer service.
Sprint can’t say the same about either.
That said, where Sprint can beat Verizon is with lower prices and great perks included in many plans. Plans are cheaper, free international texting and data (versus needing to buy a TravelPass at $10 a day with Verizon) is included, and you get great video, music, security, and even Amazon Prime subscriptions thrown in at no charge. So if you live in an area with good Sprint coverage, it may be a better bet and you might not notice a difference in performance.
- Best for coverage: Verizon.
- Best for price: Sprint.