Want a new iPhone, but not sure which U.S. carrier is best suited for your needs? Enter CarrierCompare, an iPhone app that uses real network tests in your location combined with crowdsourced data to help you choose the carrier that’s right for you. The app isn’t brand new as it launched about two weeks ago, but it’s still an effective way to help determine coverage and speed by carrier for your next iPhone.
The semi-odd thing is that the app is iOS only, meaning you need an existing iPhone on a carrier to figure out if you have the “right” carrier. Regardless, CarrierCompare is a sound approach. It first performs a speed test on your current iPhone to see what service your carrier is providing at your location. The app then uses speedtests and data from other iPhones in your area to compare the three major carriers: Verizon, AT&T and Sprint.
One of the key metrics the app initially provided — signal strength — is no longer available, although speed test data and network latency is still there. The signal strength data was pulled from the app at Apple’s request. SwayMarkets, the developers of Carrier Compare note on their site that they’re working with Apple:
“We had to remove signal strength from CarrierCompare to remain in compliance with our developer agreement with Apple and avoid having our apps pulled from the App Store entirely. Apple has been very cooperative through this process, and we are pursuing ways of bringing signal strength back in the future.
As mentioned in the CarrierCompare update description, signal strength has the smallest impact on the quality of your data experience, so the rankings we present will continue to focus on that. We recognize signal strength is an important metric for comparing voice quality, and we encourage you to mention it in your reviews and emails to us if it’s particularly important to you.”
CarrierCompare is available in a free, ad-supported version and also for $1.99 without ads. Hopefully, the signal strength data will be added back as every metric is important when comparing carrier coverage.
In the meantime, if you don’t yet have an iPhone or simply want to check carrier coverage in general, I highly recommend hitting the Root Metrics site: The company has been aggregating crowdsourced data on mobile network performance for several years across all handsets and platforms. It provides highly detailed maps based on the data.