Apple finally jumped on the LTE bandwagon with the iPhone 5 and while US carriers have been frantically upgrading their networks, coverage isn’t even close to complete throughout much of the country. If you’re looking to get a new iPhone but want to know which carrier offers the best coverage for your area, there’s a quicker way to do your research than digging up each carrier’s coverage map: Two Steps Beyond’s Coverage for iPhone and iPad.
We first heard about Coverage in early 2011 when the iPhone 4 hit Verizon and US users could choose from another official carrier for Apple’s smartphone at long last. Since then, the app has seen regular updates to show the most recent network coverage for all official iPhone carriers plus T-Mobile in the US with the most recent update to version 2012.9 arriving this week to include the latest LTE coverage maps.
Using Coverage is dead simple. A map view is front and center and a few on-screen toggles in the top right corner let you select the carriers you’re considering and a few more at the bottom let you choose the network type you’re interested in. You can allow Coverage to locate you via your device’s GPS receiver and easily view the coverage in your immediate area or browse around the map to check out other locations.
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If you travel often and want to have an idea of the type of coverage you’ll find in various places, Coverage can be indispensable for you. Yes, you could navigate to each carrier’s website and look up their coverage map to find the same information (Coverage gets its maps directly from the carriers themselves) but it’s far more convenient to have them all in one place at your fingertips.
Something to keep in mind is that the quality of network coverage is not something that’s visible in these maps since the carriers don’t provide this information (and Coverage can’t show what the carriers don’t even share) so you may want to do some informal research by polling friends and family to check their experiences. LTE network coverage is pretty good in my area according to the map and I’m seeing some great speeds (50 Mbps down and 28 Mbps up as reported by the free Speedtest.net app) on AT&T’s LTE network on my iPhone 5 in the suburbs but I’m sure this will vary in downtown Boston proper where there will be more people to crowd the network.
Coverage is a universal app and it’s a great value at $2.99 to have this information on hand anytime you need it. Note that you’ll need iOS 5 or higher for Coverage and if you already have an iPhone 5, its interface has been optimized to take advantage of its longer screen goodness.