Which iPhone 5 To Buy? Get The 16GB On Verizon In Black. Here’s Why

Which iPhone 5 To Buy? Get The 16GB On Verizon In Black. Here’s Why

Can’t decided which iPhone 5 to buy? Your best bet is probably Verizon.

Preorders for the iPhone 5 start tomorrow, so it’s time to consider which model you’re going to drop your hard-earned cash on.

There are several things to consider when purchasing a new iPhone. The iPhone 5 you buy depends on your carrier preference, storage requirements, and most importantly, how much you’re willing to spend.

Still, at the end of the day, for most iPhone 5 buyers, there’s one clear winner, and that’s the 16GB Verizon iPhone 5 in Black. Here’s why:

Choosing The Right Carrier

With the introduction of ultrafast LTE networking in the iPhone 5, choosing the right carrier is more important than ever. Grandfathered unlimited data plans are difficult to keep these days, so its equally important to know what your current carrier’s policy is for existing unlimited data subscribers.

The three major iPhone carriers in the U.S. are AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. There are pros and cons to buying the iPhone 5 on each network, so it all depends on what’s more important to you.

AT&T will let grandfathered unlimited data subscribers keep their existing plans when upgrading to the iPhone 5, while Verizon will not. On AT&T, you have the option to keep your current plan, choose a traditional plan, or choose a new Mobile Share plan. You technically have more options when signing up for an iPhone 5 with a two-year contract on AT&T, but there’s a catch: you won’t be able to use FaceTime over cellular in iOS 6 without first subscribing to a Mobile Share plan.

Verizon is a different story. Unlike AT&T, Verizon will not let grandfathered unlimited data subscribers keep their existing plans when upgrading to the iPhone 5. Instead, new and existing customers will have to purchase a subsidized iPhone 5 with a new Share Everything plan. Like AT&T’s Mobile Share plans, these pooled data plans tend to be more expensive for individuals and less expensive for multiple devices sharing a large allotment of data each month. You can technically keep your grandfathered unlimited plan on Verizon if you pay the full, off-contract, unsubsidized price of the iPhone 5, which starts at $650 for the 16GB model.

While AT&T is choosing to only offer FaceTime over cellular to Mobile Share subscribers, Verizon is placing no restrictions on what plan you have to be on. It’s worth noting that Verizon isn’t allowing FaceTime over cellular because it’s not allowed to. The FCC will not let Verizon block or limit how a certain application is used on the carrier’s 700MHz block of LTE spectrum.

“When it comes to pure pricing, Sprint is clearly the winner”

Sprint has taken a higher road when it comes to data pricing. The nation’s third largest carrier is offering truly unlimited 4G data (no throttling like AT&T and Verizon), voice, and text for just $80 per month. That’s quite an attractive package for any potential iPhone 5 owner.

When it comes to pure pricing, Sprint is clearly the winner. AT&T and Verizon are basically in the same boat (1GB per month of shared data with unlimited talk and text on one device will run you $85-$90), but AT&T is more financially attractive for grandfathered unlimited data subscribers who are still paying $30 per month.

Apple has a great comparison of the plans offered by AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint on its website.

“Verizon is still way ahead of AT&T in terms of LTE deployment”

There’s also LTE coverage to consider when selecting a U.S. carrier for the iPhone 5. And unfortunately, coverage is where Sprint falls short. While you’ll get a better deal on your plan with Sprint, coverage won’t be near as good as AT&T and Verizon in most places. AT&T is generally considered to have faster 4G LTE speeds in most parts of the country, while Verizon usually has more consistent coverage. Verizon tends to do better in highly populated areas as well. Verizon is still way ahead of AT&T in terms of LTE deployment, but the two will likely catch up with one another in the next year or two. There are free services that help show you the kind of coverage you have in your area, so be sure to do a little research before making your final decision. Overall, it looks like Verizon is the better choice for LTE right now.

Another thing to consider is that the iPhone 5 is not a ‘world phone’ like the iPhone 4S. Apple packed GSM (AT&T) and CDMA (Verizon) into the 4S, but separate GSM and CDMA version of the iPhone 5 are being sold this time around. You won’t be able to take an iPhone 5 you buy on AT&T and use it on Verizon or Sprint like with the 4S. (An unlocked GSM iPhone 5 can be used on T-Mobile’s unlimited data plan, but don’t expect great LTE coverage.)

Conclusion: Sprint has the best price, but Verizon has the best LTE and voice coverage for not too much more. Verizon wins.

Storage And Color

“For the average joe, 16GB is plenty of room”

Apple will sell the iPhone 5 in three different storage capacities: $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, and $399 for 64GB. Unless you want to put your whole iTunes library on your iPhone, there’s really no need for more than 16GB of storage. With iCloud and streaming services like Spotify, less and less hard drive space is required for accessing content on the go. For the average joe, 16GB is plenty of room for a decent amount of apps, pictures, video, and music.

Instead of “black” and “white,” Apple is calling the iPhone 5’s two color options “black & slate” and “white & sliver.” This is because of the new two-tone aluminum design of the backplate. Choosing a color is purely an aesthetic choice, but the black & slate iPhone 5 will probably look better with most accessories and cases.

Conclusion: Unless you absolutely need a ton of space on your iPhone for apps and media, 16GB is enough. As for color, you can’t clash with black.

Making The Decision

For the remaining iPhone owners that really care about keeping their AT&T grandfathered unlimited data plans, AT&T is still obviously the way to go. You won’t be able to use FaceTime over cellular, but you won’t be sucked into the shared data vortex like everyone else. If unlimited data is your saving grace, then stick with AT&T for the iPhone 5.

New and non-grandfathered customers should buy the Verizon iPhone 5. LTE coverage is better, FaceTime over cellular is unrestricted, and you’ll be paying $100 per month for 2GB of data and unlimited talk/text. AT&T only offers 1GB and 4GB of shared data at the lower end of its Mobile Share strategy, while 2GB seems to be a more reasonable middle-ground for most customers. Internationally, you’ll be able to use more LTE networks if you go with Verizon in the states.

Conclusion: The 16GB Verizon iPhone 5 in Black is Cult of Mac’s recommended purchase.

You can preorder the Verizon iPhone 5 from either Apple or Verizon tomorrow. Check out our ultimate preorder guide for more.

Let us know which iPhone 5 you’ll be buying and why in the comments!

Related
  • Tallest_Skil

    Or, you know, get the size you want on the carrier that has the best service in your area and which won’t rip you a new one you on monthly cost and features.

  • ddevito

    Get a Galaxy SIII on Verizon’s LTE Network.

  • FriarNurgle

    I’m leaning towards Verizon due to the small price difference for better network and speed (no AT&T LTE in my area) but like the look of the white one. Been using a white LifeProof case on my black iPhone 4 and really have gotten used to a white phone.

  • Ed_Kel

    I see you’re trying to squeeze every last drop of news from yesterday’s announcement…

    My choice:

    AT&T – forget this crap about Sprint. There’s a reason why they still offer unlimited data. Why limit your data twice? Everyone knows that their network is complete garbage and only held up by Verizon’s roaming agreement. Onto Verizon. You’re right in that Verizon won’t make you be on a shared plan to use FaceTime over Cellular but let’s face it – is that REALLY something big enough to break a deal? This argument is irrelevant anyways. After accompanying my mother to Verizon to get her first iPhone a few weeks ago, we quickly realized that a shared plan with 1Gb of data is the cheapest avenue for an individual and even then it’s close to $90 after taxes. I have two iPhones on a 1Gb shared plan (we aren’t data hogs) through AT&T with an 8% discount through my company which brings my bill to … wait for it … $65 per phone/per month. Straight Talk can hardly beat that.

    Color – white. Why? I just think white is a badass color for a phone. Newer, sleeker. First we had the grey Motorola Piper. Then came the black i1000 (wood grain if you’re from the hood). It’s only right to say that white is the “in” color for smartphones.

    [Edit] Capacity doesn’t matter to me. 16Gb has worked just fine but I would get a higher capacity if I felt I needed it.

  • Bob Smogango

    What’s funny is that the A6 is a far better chip than the junk in the SIII, plus having a one chip for voice/data is a huge advantage. Apple did do an excellent job with this year’s version. I can’t wait for it to arrive in the stores so I can check one out. I think someone should explain to the public the differences in these ARM chips. It is kind of confusing because a lot of these other mfg phones are using older generation A9 cores rather than the A15, plus the other aspects of the chips that are designed into them.

  • Jdsonice

    I have to disagree with you. Verizon is the worst of the carriers. Horrible service crappy reception and an attitude that sucks.

    My plan AT&T with the grandfathered in unlimited data and 64GB model.

    JDS

  • ddevito

    Verizon says these aren’t the Droids they’re looking for :p

  • mr_bee

    This article is stupid. The title says we should get the Black 16GB version on Verizon, but most of your readers won’t even be located in the US and after reading the entire article to find out why you say the black one is better it turns out you don’t even have a reason beyond your own preference. Dumb.

  • lowtolerance

    Verizon has the absolute worst customer service of any company I’ve ever dealt with. They make Comcast look like Apple.

  • NormGregory

    Nobody mentions Sprint’s best and exclusive feature. Calls to and from ANY mobile phone do not go against your talk minutes!

  • TylerHoj

    OR if you live in Canada, the 16GB Black on ANY other carrier other than Bell.

  • ehutchins

    Keep in mind that Verizon and Sprint still do not have simultaneous voice and data available for the iPhone 5 as does AT&T. Even on LTE. If that’s important for some. ;)

  • Don Kendrick

    Umm, you might want to check your facts (and the transcript from yesterday) on the “world phone” question. The specs at: http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html say:

    CDMA model A1429*: CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1900, 2100 MHz); UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); LTE (Bands 1, 3, 5, 13, 25)

  • RadTech5000

    No 4G service in my area with Verizon so my choice is obvious. As for the size of the storage I don’t know why anyone would ever consider getting a 16GB version, I’d have to recommend a 32GB minimum. Remember the apps are getting larger not smaller and the iPhone 5 is now an eight megapixel camera. If you’re ever in an area with no internet service the cloud will not be able to help you.

  • LegacyRyan

    Nobody mentions Sprint’s best and exclusive feature. Calls to and from ANY mobile phone do not go against your talk minutes!

    Verizon and AT&T have the same deal…weird…

  • GamerJunk

    Pretty much looks like one person’s choice of which model they are getting should be everyones? 32GB on Sprint for me in white.

  • Len Williams

    I’m upgrading my black 32GB iPhone 4S to the 32GB black 5 with my grandfathered AT&T original account from the very first iPhone. With the money I’m getting from my old 4S, it’s only costing me about $25 for a whole new phone. Can’t wait for iOS 6, Maps, faster A6, more capable Siri, 19×6 screen, better battery life. It’s all good! While Samsung spews out variation after variation in an effort to grab as many segments of the market it can with its stolen ideas and copycatted OS, Apple smoothly releases well-designed, incrementally better phones that work even better, and then keeps the previous 2 versions for reduced costs, with the iPhone 4 for FREE (plus contract of course).

  • Wayne Williams

    Sprint sucks balls. I can’t imagine a nicer way to put it. My 3G speeds are below that of GPRS and Edge. I’m getting .02 down. That’s it. God in Heaven above only knows when Sprint is going get LTE coverage where you live, so why keep mentioning this lame ass carrier?

  • Mahler12x

    OR, keep your grandfathered AT&T, tell em to go fuck themselves over the FaceTime and even the tethering thing, jailbreak your phone and do BOTH for FREE.

    Oh, and while you’re at it, tell the MLB to go fuck themselves too, install Location Spoofer, set spoofed location outta country, and get RID of those goddam blackouts!

    There’s usually a way around artificially placed, protectionist roadblocks if you’re willing to learn.

  • Chris Dunphy

    The app ‘Coverage?’ will let you overlay and compare AT&T and Verizon coverage maps, including just focusing on LTE: http://bit.ly/CoverageApp

    There is no one best carrier overall – it all depends where you live and where you travel. For us, the smartest was to mix things up – iPad on Verizon and iPhone on AT&T. This way we at least have a reasonable chance of getting online somehow in most places.

  • John Frum

    I got a 64GB 4S last time and don’t regret it. I shot a lot of 1080p video – do you know how much storage that soaks up, and how fast? If you plan to stream content rather than store it, watch what happens to your data allotment. I use streaming services and an automatic podcast downloader. Both have revved up my data usage. Now with LTE it figures to increase even more. Thankfully I have an unlimited plan, but of course it isn’t really unlimited. Finally, while I paid more for the 4S, I’m getting more back now in resale too.

  • sderic

    Got the 32GB to accommodate large apps. Black, cuz I think it looks good. AT&T for a number of reasons: 1. grandfathered $30 plan, 2. Works in Europe and many other places with GSM, 3. LTE is live where I live, 4. HSPA is actually very fast for places where LTE isn’t live, 5. Simultaneous voice and data – sorry Verizon/Sprint customers – you’ll have to wait awhile for this.

  • axecapone

    You guys are all talking about “simultaneous voice” and “facetime over 3G” and “unlimited data” etc. How about a very new concept called “making calls”? How about we talk about “talking on your cellphone”?

    Let me start. I have had AT&T for 6 years and I have used it extensively in many cities (Austin, Dallas, Houston, Boston, New York, San Jose, SF, Santa Barbara etc. ) and I cant make calls! I have spent more time saying “Hello can you hear me?” and “Your voice is breaking” than actually have a meaningful conversation. I have lived in parts of San Jose where you don’t get a single bar while standing on a street! I had to buy a microcell at home just so that I can make calls with AT&T. Do you know what that means? I had to pay $200 to use a service that I am supposed to be getting without paying $200.

    At the end of the day, a smart phone is also a phone. I have had a miserable time with AT&T and if I cant make calls with it, then screw the unlimited and simultaneous boat load of crap. I am switching! Period!

    PS: Before you buy any service, please check out rootmetrics.com. It shows statistically the quality of coverage in different cities and how different carriers match up! Also remember that a contract is for 2 years. So choose wisely.

  • RadTech5000

    I think AT&T is the way to go personally, Verizon doesn’t offer Cellar + Data at the same time like AT&T does unless your in a WiFi area and I use this feature to much to give it up. Additionally the AT&T iPhones have a higher resale value then Verizon iPhones and I like to upgrade every year. Additionally with AT&T get better Nationwide coverage, so if you travel outside USA this might be important to you. As for the color I’d say it doesn’t matter go with what you like, however the new iPhone 5 Black does look very cool this time around with it’s new all black special Op / Batman appearance going on. The sides of the phone are now totally black compared to silver bezel before, giving it a much better look in my opinion. As for the storage I’ll say it again I’d recommend a 32GB version minimum, the new App’s require more storage then before not to mention all the music you may want to put on your device. For these reasons among others I decided on the AT&T 64GB Black.

  • liam

    I bought the verizon on a hunch. I am stationed in South Korea and this phone uses the same LTE frequencies. I’ll be home on leave for two weeks so I thought I could pick it up, get it unlocked, bring it back, and wait for nano sim to come available here in november. I want to do this because if I buy a phone here, it would be the international one and couldn’t use when I return for good next summer. This is looking like a big gamble, however, as I’ve been looking into getting the phone unlocked(hassle) and still not sure if it will truly work in Korea. I think i might have to give up and return it when I come back next week and go for unlocked4s (sigh).

  • Tallest_Skil

    This is looking like a big gamble, however, as I’ve been looking into getting the phone unlocked(hassle)

    So you bought a phone you cannot possibly use, will have to pay the first month’s fee for a service you will not be using, then pay the ETF (which together amounts to the total cost of an unsubsidized iPhone), and STILL you won’t be able to use it in Korea because you can’t get it unlocked and won’t be able to for about a year. The iPhone 4S was only unlocked a few months ago.

  • Matthew Gauer

    I have to disagree with you. Verizon is the worst of the carriers. Horrible service crappy reception and an attitude that sucks.

    My plan AT&T with the grandfathered in unlimited data and 64GB model.

    JDS

    I believe that AT&T is not allowing customers to keep their granfathered in unlimited data. Unless your buying the i5 outright… sorry pal

  • Saturngoddess

    Can you use the Iphone 5 on Verizon over in a GSM country, like England? Does Verizon unlock their iPhones like AT&T?

    Also, I must point out – you mentioned that the 4s was a “world phone”. Yes, it had both CDMA and GSM chips, but you could not take your AT&T unlocked phone and use it on another network. Verizon, Sprint and AT&T will not activate a phone they did not sell. I found this out before I bought the phone – I just wanted to make sure I could use it on another carrier – no can do. I’m still trying to figure out what the point of making a phone with both chips was if you couldn’t switch carriers.

  • Tallest_Skil

    Can you use the Iphone 5 on Verizon over in a GSM country, like England? Does Verizon unlock their iPhones like AT&T?

    The GSM aspect of the phone is unlocked for international if you use a CDMA carrier natively.

    Also, I must point out – you mentioned that the 4s was a “world phone”. Yes, it had both CDMA and GSM chips, but you could not take your AT&T unlocked phone and use it on another network. Verizon, Sprint and AT&T will not activate a phone they did not sell.

    That’s not what world phone means. It specifically means ‘carriers not in your country’.

  • Saturngoddess
    Can you use the Iphone 5 on Verizon over in a GSM country, like England? Does Verizon unlock their iPhones like AT&T?

    The GSM aspect of the phone is unlocked for international if you use a CDMA carrier natively.

    Also, I must point out – you mentioned that the 4s was a “world phone”. Yes, it had both CDMA and GSM chips, but you could not take your AT&T unlocked phone and use it on another network. Verizon, Sprint and AT&T will not activate a phone they did not sell.

    That’s not what world phone means. It specifically means ‘carriers not in your country’.

    I understand that. What the author said though was that you could buy a iPhone 4s on ATT and then use it on Verizon or Sprint. That is incorrect. Sorry I wasn’t clear on that.

  • Saturngoddess

    I have to disagree with you. Verizon is the worst of the carriers. Horrible service crappy reception and an attitude that sucks.

    My plan AT&T with the grandfathered in unlimited data and 64GB model.

    JDS

    I believe that AT&T is not allowing customers to keep their granfathered in unlimited data. Unless your buying the i5 outright… sorry pal

    That is Verizon that requires customers to buy the phone outright to continue to use unlimited data. You can still use your unlimited data on ATT and subsidize your phone.

  • Arnold Newman

    This analysis is overly simplistic. For anyone who uses their iPhone more as a tool than a phone, apps and app data—particularly offline map data—demand more than 16GB. And if you need offline map data because you’re off the grid, you’ll also need music files stored on your iPhone.

    Anyone who doesn’t really use the phone or text much probably has a lower priced plan vs these new “shared” plans. So, while it is easy to advise switching to Verizon because of their superior network, you ignore the cost/benefit analysis that must be made. Is Verizon’s superior network worth paying an extra $40/mo?

    And as for the color, they are both neutral colors that look good. I think the white looks especially good this round—though I will be ordering the black.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath has been a staff writer at Cult of Mac for three years. He is also a co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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