Now, T-Mobile, in my experience, isn't noticeably worse than Cingular, AT&T or Sprint; the phenomenon I'm describing is a testimony to the superiority of Verizon's national range. In four years of writing cellphone reviews for the Times, I've often found myself carrying phones from several different companies-and where there's a difference in reception, Verizon nearly always wins. (Consumer Reports's much more scientific testing arrived at the same results.) Which made me realize three things.
First, I can't believe the gall of AT&T Wireless's new newspaper ads. They show a full-strength, all-bars signal indicator along with claims that suggest that AT&T has the best cellular coverage in this country. In my experience, that's pure wishful thinking.
Second, tech reviewers seem to ignore the fact that the carrier you choose may actually be more important to your happiness than the phone you choose. Coverage, pricing and customer service will probably mean a lot more than this bell or that whistle. Every phone review ought to include this warning in bold red type: "NOTE: You're not just buying a phone; you're buying a carrier."
Finally, it's too bad you can't get the best phones with the best coverage. I love the signal coverage of Verizon Wireless, but man, are its phones boring.
...So I asked a Verizon spokesperson: What does Verizon have against high tech?
She emphatically disagreed with my "good coverage, boring phones" premise. She said that Verizon simply tests its phones much more thoroughly than the other carriers, who may actually be trying to compensate for their smaller networks by offering trendier phones. And she pointed out that Verizon will finally offer its first Bluetooth phone-with a 1.2-megapixel camera and video capture, no less-on August 11 (called the Motorola 710).
Incidentally, Pogue's site is a great resource.