Until recently, the iPhone was in its Model T era. You could customize it with different apps and cases, but any customer could get any iPhone so long as the data provider was AT&T.
No more. Now everyone has a choice -- AT&T, and as of last Thursday, Verizon. But which is the best? To find out, Compare and Contrast studied the phone companies' data plans, assessed their prices and looked at their customer service rankings. All information is current as of Feb. 9. Prices are subject to change.
Phone prices for new customers: $49 for 8-gigabyte iPhone 3G version, one cent to $19 for used version; $199.99 for new 16-gigabyte iPhone 4 version, $49 for used version; $299 for new 32-gigabyte iPhone 4 version, $99 for used version.
Perk: AT&T boasts that only on its network can users surf the Web and talk on the phone at the same time.
Customer satisfaction: According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, AT&T mobility earned a score of 69 in 2010. That's below the average score of 72 for the industry, but up 3% from 2009.
Phone prices for new customers: $199.99 for the 16-gigabyte iPhone 4 version, $299 for the 32-gigabyte iPhone 4 version. Both offers are for a two-year contract.
Data plan prices: $29.99 for an unlimited data package.
Perk: The fact that an alternative exists; AT&T has been widely criticized for network unreliability.
Customer satisfaction: The ACSI gave Verizon Wireless a 73 last year, right above the industry average customer satisfaction score of 72. That's a 1.4% decrease from 2009.
(click on link for full report)