iPhone 4S: International Use, Mobile Hotspots and “Anytime” Minutes

by John Kiernan on October 20, 2011

iphone-4-verizon-sprint-attBy now, everyone knows what Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T have to offer in terms of standard data, texting and talk plans for the new iPhone 4S. But what about the niche aspects of major carriers’ iPhone offerings? Not every consumer is content with plain vanilla utility and many, in fact, require certain supplemental features. With that being said, we took a look at how the aforementioned networks differ in terms of international usage costs, mobile hotspots and how “Night & Weekend” minutes are classified.

Night & Weekend Minutes
In our previous article examining the iPhone 4S, we noted that the three carriers offered calling plans in terms of how many “Anytime” minutes they provided: 450, 900, or “Unlimited.” Obviously, if you opt for the unlimited anytime minutes, the number of “Night & Weekend” minutes you get or when in the day these minutes begin doesn’t matter, but the same cannot be said for those of you that choose the two other options. So let’s take a closer look at what they offer.

AT&T:

  • 450 anytime minute plan: 5,000 night and weekend minutes, starting at 9 p.m.
  • 900 anytime minute plan: Unlimited night and weekend minutes, starting at 9 p.m.

Sprint:

  • Both the 450 and 900 anytime minute plans offer unlimited night and weekend minutes, starting at 7 p.m.

Verizon:

  • Both the 450 and 900 anytime minute plans offer unlimited night and weekend minutes, starting at 9:01 p.m.

The Winner: Sprint, by far!

Mobile Hotspots
A mobile hotspot allows you to turn your phone into a Wi-Fi Internet router internet, which multiple laptops and other devices can connect to.

AT&T: AT&T offers a 4GB data plan that includes mobile hotspot capabilities and costs $45 per month.

Sprint: 5GB of mobile hotspot use will run you $29.99 per month on top of your data plan.

Verizon: 2GB of mobile hotspot use will cost $20.00 per month on top of your data plan.

The Winner: AT&T

International Use
Whether you plan to travel outside the country or you have friends and family living abroad, you need to determine how much international calling is going to cost you.


AT&TSprintVerizon
Data50 MB/month for $24.99; 125 MB for $49.99; 275 MB for $99.99; 800 MB for $199.99.Not offered50 MB for $30/month; 150 MB for $75; 300 MB for $125
Text50 messages for $10/month; 200 messages for $30; 500 messages for $50Not offered$0.50 for each message sent and $0.05 for each message received
Calling (from outside U.S. in order to get discounted rates)AT&T’s World Traveler plan costs $5.99/monthSprint Worldwide Voice costs $4.99/monthThe Global Voice Value Plan costs $4.99/month
Calling Internationally (from inside U.S. in order to get discounted rates)International calling from inside the U.S. is available for $3.99/monthSprint International Long Distance costs $4.00/month$3.99/month

The Winner: Close call between AT&T and Verizon, but definitely stay away from Sprint. The effective cost of each one of these plans really depends on where you are going to be traveling, as there are different charges for different types of phone usage in different countries around the world. Ultimately though, it appears that AT&T has a small cost advantage over Verizon in terms of its data plan. In addition, all AT&T phones are on the GSM network, which is used in more countries than the CDMA network used by Verizon. Of course, the new iPhone 4S works on both networks, which minimizes the overall importance of the GSM/CDMA dilemma.

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