Do you currently have trouble with a Verizon signal in that area?
I am in the southern NJ / Philly area and have had both Verizon and Sprint. I am going to give you an unbias opinion based on my experience with both carriers, and some facts I have learned along the way.
Verizon does in fact have a very large coverage area, and as they advertise, I believe they have the most dependable voice network out of all the carriers. However if you are using a smartphone such as a Blackberry, Sprint has the most advanced / largest data network out there.
If you are in a city / suburban area, you should be fine with either of the two. If you fall outside of the Verizon network, they offer "free" Verizon extended network coverage. This extended network is a more feel-good term for roaming. Sprint does the same thing, except they call it free nation-wide roaming. So bottom line, if your signal is poor, you can set your phone to roam automatically and not pay, however I highly doubt you will roam in north Jersey.
Last week I was inside the University of Penn main building in the center of Philadelphia. My Sprint Blackberry would not get reception, however a Verizon customer with a Samsung phone directly next to me had a couple bars. But in South Jersey inside a suburban office building, my Sprint phone had full reception, and a Verizon customer near me had to walk outside for a signal. Much of this issue can depend on the individual phone. All carriers have some dead spots, it's just a pain if you happen to live or work in one of those spots.
Sprint and Verizon both run on CDMA networks, whereas AT&T and Tmobile run on GSM networks. Nextel runs on what's called the Iden network. This is why they all offer different types of phones. For example, the Iphone is currently built to run on GSM (AT&T), therefore you won't find one of those at a Verizon store, until they build one specifically for that type of network. The Blackberrys at AT&T are different from those at Verizon. You won't find the Tour or Storm at AT&T because likewise, they are designed for the CDMA network (Sprint / Verizon). All of these carriers offer Blackberrys. Blackberry's seem to work best on CDMA networks in my opinion.
Verizon customers seem to experience less dropped calls than Sprint customers. I think this is due to a more seamless, dense coverage area (more cell towers). However, I read a consumer reports forum recently which said Sprint's coverage area has improved by 24% this year, not sure what this is based on though, or how acurate it is.
At work we have laptops in our vehicles which run on wireless broadband aircards. We have been using Verizon for at least the past 4 years, but have had a lot of trouble with dead spots and speed. We actually had a Verizon tech test our area like you see in the commercials, and they had to get us a highly priced pcmcia card to get a good signal. Last month, we switched to Sprint for the broadband service, and our coverage is perfect with the cheapest card.
Lastly the plans with Sprint are much more reasonable than Verizon. Verizon offers the attractive free in-network calling which allows you to talk to any Verizon cell phone without using your monthly minutes. Free nationwide long distance, free extended network calling, free nights and weekends. However you will pay extra for data services if you use a smartphone, extra for features like "ringbacks" which is when the person calling you can listen to music while they wait for you to answer. There is a lot of nickle and diming going on with Verizon.
With Sprint, you can get an unlimited everything for $99 per month. This includes data services and texting. For $69 per month, you get 450 minutes, however they are only used if you are calling a landline. Sprint gives you free calling to any cell phone on any carrier, not just in-network. Also free nights and weekends starting at 7, and unlimited data, sms, and mms. I am running my Blackberry Tour on this plan right now and it's great. With Verizon for the same features I was up to almost $120 per month.
Each has pro's and con's. And depending on what you are looking for, one may benefit you more than the other. Both are great carriers. I hope this info helps.
Is it worth switching form Verizon to Sprint if I use my phone mainly in NYC & Jersey City? I need very good signal and to use a smartphone.