The difference price-wise is hardly noticeable between AT&T and Verizon. Local carriers are substantially cheaper though offer a lot less as far as coverage and actual cell phones. So what sets these two apart? Well, coverage for one. What is the difference? They both will work in pretty much the same places but what about the speed? When it comes to phone calls, you wont really notice much of a difference.
Verizon offers much faster internet browsing at LTE speeds while AT&T uses a slower 4G. AT&T, however, will let you talk on the phone and use data at the same time. This is a very nice feature and it comes in handy when you need to look something up such as showtimes for a movie while the person you are talking to is still on the line. Some people say, “Why would I ever need to surf the web or use applications at the same time?”. I use my phone a lot and it is a big part of my life, but not just for talking and texting. I probably would talk and use data 10 times a week. If my job was based around cell contact it would quadruple.
Verizon also offers free tethering via “personal hotspot” on an iPhone which is where the LTE speeds come in to play. If I was using 3G on AT&T’s network, it would take me quite a while to surf and/or download stuff compared to LTE.
IF you have and use an iPhone and you ever plan on traveling, then I would highly recommend going through Verizon. When you get an iPhone through Verizon it comes unlocked, automatically. This means that you can use this phone on any carrier in the world just by swapping SIM cards. Another amazing detail is that Verizon phones are both CDMA and GSM compatible. So they can use SIM cards or the CDMA radio on any network. AT&T is very strict on their phones and people can only use the AT&T network during their contract and maybe even during the entire phone’s life. If you don’t use an iPhone then you can disregard this last paragraph.
TLDR; If you want an iPhone 5 get Verizon for the speed and CDMA/GSM and unlock flexibility. If you use wireless hotspots in an LTE area then go with Verizon. If you depend on your phone for work and would multitask while talking on the phone, go with AT&T. If you are really on a budget and can’t afford paying $100/mo then check out local carriers such as US Cellular. They can offer unlimited data, text, and talk time for $50 or less which is half the price than that of AT&T and Verizon.