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Sprint iPhones to Offer Unlimited Data: How Much Do You Save?

Sprint is doing everything it can to entice iPhone shoppers, announcing that it will offer unlimited data for both the $99 iPhone 4 and $199 iPhone 4S. How much do you really save versus AT&T and Verizon? Enough to make a lot of people consider switching carriers. Check out the breakdown and analysis below.

450 Voice Minutes $39.99$79 (includes data)$59.99 (includes text)
Data (2GB)$25 for 2GBUnlimited$30 for 2GB
(4GB)$45N/AN/A
(5GB)N/AN/A$50
(10GB)N/AN/A$80
Text Messaging$20 for unlimitedIncludedIncluded
Mobile Hotspot FeeIncluded in 4GB plan$30$20 for 2GB
2-year total (2GB)$2,039.76$1,896 (unlimited)$2,159.76
2-year total (4-5GB)$2,519.76 (4GB)$1,896 (unlimited)$2,639.76
2-year total (with hotspot)$2,519.76 (4GB plan)$2,616$2,639.76 (2GB plan plus 2GB for hotspot)

If you look at the total over two years, you can get unlimited data on Sprint for $263.76 less than what you'd pay to get just 2GB of data on Verizon. And you'd save $143.76 versus AT&T for just 2GB. If you go up to 5GB on Verizon, the delta increases over two years to $743.76. That's enough for an iPad and iPhone 4. AT&T's 4GB plan costs $623.76 more than Sprint's unlimited plan, but AT&T lets you use your iPhone 4 or 4S as a mobile hotspot at that price. That's where Sprint's value proposition starts to get challenged.

Because Sprint charges $30 to use your smartphone as a hotspot, it will cost you a little bit more over two years versus AT&T's 4GB plan, but remember that Sprint's plan is still unlimited--so you don't have to watch the meter. Verizon's total comes out to be a little higher over two years.

So what about network performance? In general we've found Sprint's 3G network to be fairly speedy and about as reliable as Verizon's. Where AT&T has an advantage with the iPhone 4S (at least on paper) is that the device will support data rates up to 14.4 Mbps, faster than both Sprint and Verizon. We'll have to see about real-world performance though

Bottom line: Getting the iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S on Sprint can save you serious cash, especially if you plan on using more than 2GB per month.

Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.