Whenever a new flagship phone is released, it sets off a round of sniping between the various carriers as each seeks to use the enticing device to persuade customers to switch providers or sign new contracts.

The launch of Samsung's(OTC:SSNLF) Galaxy S6 provided another opportunity for AT&T (NYSE:T), Verizon  (NYSE:VZ), Sprint (NYSE:S), and T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS) to battle for subscribers. Of course, sorting out exactly which company has the best deal is a tad confusing since pretty much every carrier makes the claim. That's a fact not lost on T-Mobile CEO John Legere, though his bias is clear in his Twitter posts on the subject.

When you compare offers it's not always quite so cut-an-dried. In some cases "best" can be different for different people depending upon what they value in a cell phone plan.

For comparison, where possible, we will look at 1GB plans and unlimited data plans (for the carriers that offer them). All plans are unlimited talk and data.

AT&T offers a lot of choice
AT&T has a variety of ways its customers can buy the S6, including fully paying for the device up front, paying on an installment plan, and buying a subsidized phone on a two-year contract. AT&T also has slightly confusing nomenclature as its Next 24 plan involves 30 monthly installments, while Next 18 has 24. (We've used 24 for the purpose of this comparison).

PlanPhone CostData cost (1GB)Total Monthly Bill
No contract 684.99 (once) $45/month $45
AT&T Next 24 $22.84/month $45/month $67.84
Two-year contract $199 (once) $65/month


In some ways, all the deals are more or less the same, as after two years (or 30 months in the case of Next 24) you will have paid full retail for the phone and about $45 for data.

Verizon's plans are similar
As the top two wireless companies, Verizon and AT&T keep their offerings fairly similar; that is the case here, except Verizon is decidedly more expensive. The company is charging nearly $100 less for the phone at "full retail," but it makes that up by not offering any sort of deal on data charges for customers who pay for the phone all at once.

PlanPhone CostData cost (1GB)Total Monthly Bill
No contract 599.99 (once) $70/month $70
Verizon Edge $22.84/month $55/month $77.84
Two-year contract $199 (once) $70/month $70

Verizon seemingly has little preference for how its customers pay for their phone, but the best deal might be the old-fashioned two-year contract, though it's really too close to call.

T-Mobile keeps it simple
T-Mobile does not offer subsidies (or contracts), so the only options are to pay the phone's full price up front ($679.92) on in 24 monthly installments of $28.33. In both cases, 1GB of data costs $50 a month and unlimited data costs $80.

PlanPhone CostData costTotal Monthly Bill
No contract
(1 GB)
679.92 (once) $50/month $50
No contract (unlimited data) 679.92 (once) $80/month $80
1 GB (24 installments) $28.33/month $50/month $78.33
Unlimited (24 installments) $28.33/month $80/month $109

Sprint has a lease deal
Much like it does for the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 6, Sprint offers a lease deal on the Galaxy S6. That offers costs $0 down and only $20 a month for the phone, but you don't own anything at the end of the lease term. On this plan, the lease, plus unlimited data (the only choice offered), costs $80 a month. 

PlanPhone CostData costTotal Monthly Bill
Lease $20/month $60/Month (unlimited) $80
No contract (unlimited data) $648 (once) $60/month $60
No contract (1GB data) $648 (once) $45/month $45
24 installments $27/month $45/month (1 GB) $72.00
24 installments $27/month $60/month (unlimited) $87.00

Who has the best deal?
It's tough to sort out all of these similar offers, but Sprint offering $60 month for unlimited data if you buy the phone outright might be it. Sprint also does well with its 1GB data plan, as does AT&T. Verizon is clearly the most expensive choice and T-Mobile is in line with the competition with is offerings. 

The worst deal might well be Sprint's lease deal, in which you pay the least up front, but at only $7 a month cheaper than buying the phone on installments, that seems like a poor bargain.