CarrierCompare Helps You Find The Best iPhone Carrier In Your Area

CarrierCompare Helps You Find The Best iPhone Carrier In Your Area

CarrierCompare crowd-sources finding the best iPhone carrier in any given area.

Asking people what the best iPhone carrier is usually leads to a number of thoroughly unscientific and subjective responses. For example, one person might recommend AT&T simply because they’re locked into a two-year contract with Ma Bell and don’t want to admit they made a mistake. Someone on Sprint, on the other hand, might recommend their network for the “unlimited data” to someone for whom speed — not volume — is the most important criterion.

CarrierCompare is a new iOS app that aims to moderate the debate by allowing you to see what the best iPhone carrier is at any given location. But right now, Apple’s stamping down on a key feature that makes the app less useful than it could be.

Here’s how it works. Downloading CarrierCompare, you install it and run the app, which starts a speed test on your current iPhone. It then compares that data to crowdsourced information from other iPhones in the area, then gives you an average speed for all the networks in your area: Sprint, Verizon and AT&T.

The biggest problem with the app is that while it is great comparing data speeds, Apple won’t let the app compare signal strength. CarrierCompare’s devs, SwayMarkets, say that they “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.”

Sounds a bit weird, doesn’t it? Why would Apple have an issue with comparing signal strength across carriers?

It all has to do with the aftermath of Antennagate, in which Apple has waged an ongoing campaign to downplay the importance of iOS’s reception bars, even going as far as “fixing” the iPhone 4’s reception issues by just making the signal bars bigger. Apple doesn’t want an Antennagate II: users comparing and contrasting signal strength — which, unlike data transfers speeds, may or may not affect actual call quality — is an invitation to another PR fiasco.

Either way, CarrierCompare is an interesting and useful app. The only trick is that you need access to an iPhone to use the app, which makes it mostly of interest to would-be network switchers and evangelists.

Source, via

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  • Kutjara

    Strangely, when I run it on my AT&T iPhone 4S, the app tells me that all the networks (AT&T, Verizon and Sprint) are “poor.” When I run it on my wife’s Verizon iPhone 4S, however, it tells me Verizon is providing “great service,” while the other two (AT&T and Sprint) are “poor.” I get the same result with repeated tests.

  • joewaylo

    @Kutjara: It’s probably because AT&T’s 4S isn’t as good as Verizon is, based on HSPA+’s spotty service. Verizon’s CDMA has higher voice and data coverage, but half the speed of AT&T almost. AT&T is GSM which is known for not having a good area coverage, but has full blown speeds in random locations. Most of our areas are 2.0 MBPS or less without being reported to AT&T of a slow coverage zone.

  • Rowanova

    So since I have an iPhone already, and since I already have it on contract and in service, I could now download an app that will tell me which service is best in my area. WTF?!?!?!

    And some people will actually download it, too ??? :(

  • stevejohn

    SwayMarkets’ newly released utility CarrierCompare isn’t anything the carriers are too ecstatic.
    iPhone Development

  • ApplePr0n

    I could make this app – if your in the US, it’s Verizon – hands down, pants off

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his girlfriend and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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