Which Mobile Network is Best for Voice Calls?

Which Mobile Network is Best for Voice Calls

People are finally calling each other again, but they aren’t making traditional cell phone calls. Instead they’re “dropping a line” with over-the-top (OTT) voice apps like Facetime Audio, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. Apps powered by mobile internet or Wi-Fi offer a handful of advantages over cellular – including unlimited minutes, video calling, and screen sharing.

Despite the popularity of voice calls, the experience of OTT voice apps varies a lot depending on the strength of your mobile internet or Wi-Fi connection. If the connection isn’t good, you might experience poor sound quality, interruptions, or dropped calls. So which network – Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, or Sprint – offers the best voice app experience for customers?

In its January 2020 report, Opensignal pits these networks against each other by evaluating their voice call quality with criteria from the International Telecommunication Union. This standard criterion takes both quantitative data (technical measurements) and qualitative data (perceived call quality) into account to estimate overall user satisfaction out of 100.

Voice app experience score User satisfaction
<45 All users dissatisfied
45-59 Almost all users dissatisfied
60-65 Most users dissatisfied
66-73 Many users dissatisfied
74-79 Users satisfied
80-86 Many users satisfied
87-94 Most users satisfied
>94 Most users very satisfied

With average 4G LTE download speeds of at least 23.9 Mbps and average 4G LTE upload speeds of at least 2.7 Mbps, all four major networks are fast enough to support satisfactory voice calls. T-Mobile and AT&T, in particular, lead the pack on voice app experience with scores of 79.4 and 79.3. Many users on these networks are satisfied with the quality of their voice calls.

Which Mobile Network is Best for Voice Calls
Image copyright Opensignal Limited

While actual voice app experience will depend more on your local network coverage, Opensignal finds that T-Mobile and AT&T are both safe bets if you’re looking for a network with high voice call quality.

4G LTE vs 3G voice calls

While there isn’t a big difference between voice app experience on Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint, there is a huge difference between voice app experience on 4G LTE and 3G. Because 3G networks have much lower average internet speeds (as low as 1 Mbps download and 300 Kbps upload), they offer lower sound quality, more interruptions, and more dropped calls.

Which Mobile Network is Best for Voice Calls
Image copyright Opensignal Limited

Almost all users are dissatisfied with Verizon’s voice call quality on 3G, and the other three carriers fare almost as bad. For example, while many users are satisfied with T-Mobile’s 4G LTE voice app experience (it’s the best), many users are dissatisfied with its 3G voice app experience (which is still the best for 3G). If you want to have a good voice app experience, then, it’s really important to consider the 4G LTE availability in your area. 4G LTE is key.