T-Mobile is the tough-to-beat carrier thanks to fast speeds, affordable plans, and a great device selection.
T-Mobile hasn't always had the best reputation when it comes to network reliability and speed, at least not in the past, but that started to change in many big ways over the last 5-7 years since the once 4th largest carrier in the U.S. began its Uncarrier initiative. Fast forward to today and T-Mobile is now the third largest major wireless carrier in the country and it's ever increasing its network speeds and improving in every way it possibly can. While many of T-Mobile's best efforts can be attributed to more than just the past year, it's certainly done a lot to make it worthy of our choice for the best carrier of 2017.
For example, it's the exclusive carrier for the cellular backup feature of Nest's new Nest Secure home security system. This might not seem like a big deal but it certainly is for T-Mobile, and it's a big deal for its subscribers as down the road it may mean special deals on the Nest Secure or the backup services for those that do use T-Mobile as a wireless carrier. T-Mobile also recently announced that it had expanded its LTE Advanced to over 920 markets, reaching more customers than ever before with its fastest-ever 4G LTE network speeds which, are boasted to be the fastest of all four of the major U.S. carriers.
Technically this isn't a 2017 accomplishment, as it won't be available until sometime in 2018 according to the initial reporting, but T-Mobile also just acquired Layer3 TV which it plans to use to launch its own streaming TV service, which is sure to add some value to the already value-conscious carrier that is big on providing the best possible experience for its subscribers. Of course, when it comes to devices, T-Mobile is right up there with every other carrier in terms of having the best of the best. With T-Mobile subscribers are getting their choice of phones like the LG V30, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, the Galaxy Note 8, the Galaxy S8 Active, the HTC U11 Life, and even mid-range phones like the Galaxy J7. Whatever the subscriber wants T-Mobile will have it, and because it's a GSM carrier users can even bring their own devices like the OnePlus 5 or OnePlus 5T, or even the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL. Whether it's network speeds, which T-Mobile was rated to have the fastest of for Q1 and Q2 of this year when it comes to download speeds, extreme savings which lets customers pick up an unlimited plan at competitive pricing that will generally be less than other carriers without skimping on features, or a large library of available devices that will entice just about anyone and cater to any level of consumer, T-Mobile has done quite a bit to become an even better carrier than it has been in the past, and with all of that and its growth that is likely to continue through the next year or two, it's hard to look elsewhere when things are this good.
Runner Up: AT&T
AT&T is the second largest wireless carrier in the U.S., coming behind Verizon, and in this awards post it's also the second carrier, though in a different respect as it's coming in as the runner up for best carrier of the year. Granted, AT&T may very well be the best carrier for some consumers and that's totally ok, because for some it might have the best coverage where they want to use or need to use the phone the most. Though AT&T may end up costing more than T-Mobile, it can have better coverage in certain areas, and it has just as big of a selection of all the best smartphones that customers could want. It was even confirmed to have upcoming devices that it may have the exclusive on even if just for a little while, such as Huawei's Mate 10 Pro which is supposed to be landing on the carrier at some point in 2018, though no cost has been mentioned yet. For consumers who love to binge watch their favorite shows on TV, AT&T's DIRECTV NOW service which launched in the Fall of last year, began affording existing subscribers free HBO around March of this year, which is a great value add if you were already signed up for the streaming TV offering. A little later in the year, AT&T even added HBO to its Unlimited Plus plan so even if you didn't have DIRECTV NOW you could still have access to some of the best shows on TV, and like the other carriers, AT&T is making moves to advance the future of its network and bring about 5G speeds. No matter how you slice it, AT&T has done well this year which is why it's the runner up.
Honorable Mention: Verizon/Sprint
Verizon and Sprint may not be the best carrier of the year or even the runner up, but they're still pretty decent carriers for many consumers and for some, just like with AT&T or T-Mobile, they're the best possible option for either they're coverage strength, network speed, and/or value due to the cost savings on competitive plans. When it comes to Verizon, this isn't a carrier that's typically synonymous with great pricing, but it does tend to have the strongest network with the most customers, and it has a great selection of devices just like the other three major carriers. When it comes to Sprint, again, there's a great selection of devices here and Sprint may now be the fourth largest carrier in the U.S. but it also has some really good value as its pricing is now right around what you'll get with T-Mobile, which makes them a really good option for those who are looking for value. Regardless of the carrier you pick chances are you'll be getting a pretty good experience as you're likely to pick the best one for your own personal needs.