Are there differences in sound quality between cell phone networks?

Hi! I am thinking of switching cellular networks to t-mobile and bringing on to my plan someone with a profound hearing loss who is planning to get the new Oticon Xceed hearing aid. She would probably get the iPhone 8 Plus or the iPhone XR. Before I make this decision, is there any difference between Verizon, T-Mobile or AT&T in terms of the clarity/quality of the sound? I’ve checked coverage. I just don’t know if there’s anything else to consider for someone with hearing loss before making this decision.



I have tmobile and I’m happy with it. Haven’t had anything else in several years, so I can’t compare.

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I have had Verizon and AT&T and can not tell the difference.

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No difference in sound quality. I’ve been with T-Mobile 10+ years with 1 lapse in judgement when I switched to Verizon for 1 year…Never again with Verizon.

Some areas have better cell coverage and speeds. When we moved we changed carriers for better coverage, less dropped calls. Out in the country you get what you can.

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With LTE almost completely prevalent most voice is now carried over the 4G data network and is called VOLTE (voice over LTE). It’s similar technology to voice over IP. It is much clearer than the 3G networks which use CDMA, TDMA, et al. If you or the other party happen to be on a cell site that is not yet VOLTE capable then you will notice the voice is not as clear. Some cell sites currently use 4G for data but still use 3G for voice. Same goes if the person you are talking to has a 3G only phone, then the voice quality will suffer as compared to VOLTE. The 3G technology is being phased out and will probably disappear by the end of 2020.


If both the carrier and phone support VoLTE and high quality codecs (AT&T’s HD voice for example), then voice quality can be quite good. However, there is sometimes an issue when one phone is on one network and the other phone is on another network. In the old days, before interconnections were done appropriately, the VoLTE connection was downgraded to “plain old telephone service” level to transit between wireless networks (say Verizon and AT&T). That caused a quality reduction as compared to in-network service and may still happen in certain circumstances. I would contact the proposed new vendor to ensure that they use VoLTE and appropriate codecs with the particular phone, their network AND interconnections to other major networks.

Was sitting next to a cell phone company executive last night and asked him. He said big difference depending upon phone, location ,carriers and a zillion other factors.

He said best clarity can be on internet calls using WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype , and others but even that depends upon your internet connection.

You’re right. I think technology plays a part too. For example, Skype or Microsoft Teams doesn’t do very well with video calls, versus Zoom. Or there may be delays in the audio, depending on where you are.

I did a transatlantic zoom video call for the first time a week ago. I was on an iPad and the other caller was on her MacBook Pro. The sound was as good as streaming from Apple Music… I.e. as good as my speakers on my device. We used zoom because the previous call on Skype was so bad. So, another variable.
As someone previously said, my broader experience is that if you are using VoLTE as most people with an LTE capable phone will be, the quality variables are hardware/device related.

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