If you think the search for the perfect cell phone is baffling and never ending, just try searching for the best cell phone carrier. Though your handset stays the same as you move from around the country, the quality of a carrier's network can change completely just by crossing the street.
That's why CNET doesn't rate carrier coverage. To do so fairly and accurately we'd have to make calls in almost every corner of America. But that doesn't mean we're not dedicated to helping our readers evaluate carriers and choosing the best network for them. After all, selecting a carrier is just as important, if not more important, as finding a phone.
So in lieu of a CNET rating, we've partnered with a company called Root Metrics to offer you a tool to help you make that important decision. These aren't maps supplied by the carriers--we'd advise you to take those with a grain of salt, anyway--and the data doesn't just track carrier dead zones. Instead, Root Metrics uses a smartphone app that anonymously collects information on voice signal strength and data speeds. By collecting, measuring, and analyzing your the real-world experience of mobile users, Root can provide more detailed and useful data for the big four national carriers.
In this video, I'll explain the tool and show you how to use it. We hope that you'll find it useful and that you download the app yourself and contribute to the data. And, of course, please leave your feedback below.