OpenSignal’s network tests rely on crowdsourcing: Anyone can download the OpenSignal app and run tests. But that also means anyone can opt not to do so—and the majority of people don’t. As such, OpenSignal’s data skews heavily toward densely populated, urban areas. The upside is that in those regions, it has block-by-block information. If you live in a city, you can use OpenSignal’s data to check all the spots you frequent.

In evaluating plans, we looked at the four major U.S. carriers — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon — and what they offer. We also evaluated five discount carriers: Boost Mobile, Cricket, MetroPCS, Straight Talk and Virgin, and to help you stretch your dollar even further, we looked at plans from several smaller discount carriers. In addition to price, we considered network coverage and performance, including results from our own 4G network testing in half-a-dozen cities. In some cases, total savings on one carrier’s plan outweighed the performance edge another carrier might enjoy; other times, network performance was a deciding factor in our choice.


Post-pay plans will usually offer more features and options at lower rates, but prepay can be a lot less expensive depending on usage patterns, specific communication needs (voice, text, and data), the cellular carrier, and geographic coverage. Some customers only want voice calling, or just need a phone for emergency calls. In such cases, prepay is often the better alternative.

If you need better connectivity to, say, hail a Lyft from the Acropolis, simply add a global package to your current service. It's shockingly easy. For example, AT&T offers a service called Passport, which gets you 200 MB of data and unlimited texting in more than 200 countries for just $40 tacked onto your current monthly plan. (Calls abroad still cost a buck a minute, so talk quickly.) Verizon offers a similar service, Travel Pass, that costs $5 a day to extend your plan to Mexico and Canada and $10 per day for service in more than 100 other countries. How much data you need depends upon how active you plan to be online. Posting 30 photos to social media costs about 10 MB; each web page you visit costs about one. Downloading apps like Whatsapp lets you send texts and make calls without racking up minutes, and disabling "automatic refresh" on email and other apps helps avoid blowing through your data allowance.

If you have eyes only for your budget, we’d suggest avoiding the Big Four entirely and instead choosing a cheaper MVNO provider like Cricket or Republic Wireless. MVNOs do not operate their own networks and instead offer access to one or several of the major carriers’ networks at a reduced cost. Choosing the right MVNO requires knowing which network it uses and whether that network works well where you live.
International cell phone options are as varied as travel styles. The always-on-the-go globetrotter who spends her morning in Europe and goes to sleep in North Africa probably carries her own high-tech international calling device. The college student studying in Italy may have a local cell phone that only works in his overseas home. The leisure traveler who wants a cell phone in case of emergency on her yearly vacation may rent a phone and drop it in the mail when she returns home.
A mobile phone manufacturer is the company that designs and produces the physical phone. Some manufacturers have contracts with certain carriers, so in many cases you can only get certain phones with certain carriers. Read through some cell phone reviews on these different manufacturers to get a better idea of the type of phone that each manufacturer produces. Browse Wirefly for exclusive cell phone deals from all manufacturers and carriers.
Better Choice Plan: No discounts apply to access charges & early upgrade add-on charge. Incl. unlimited domestic calling & texting. Data allowance as specified. Non-discounted phones req. you to sign up for leasing, pay full MSRP or bring your own capable phone. Third-party content/downloads are add’l. charge. Max. of 10 phone/tablet/MBB lines. Incl. sel. allotment of on-network shared data usage & 100MB off-network data usage. Add’l. on-network high-speed data allowance may be purch. at $15/GB. Add’l. off-network data can be added by opt in only for 25¢/MB for tablets/MBBs. Mobile Hotspot Usage pulls from your shared data & off-network allowances. High speed data is access to 3G/4G.Discounted Phones Access ($45): Inv. will show a term access charge of $45/mo./line charge until the customer enters into a new device transaction that does not have an annual term svc. agmt.
T-Mobile has carved a niche for itself in the U.S. with their all-in pricing (i.e. taxes and fees baked into plan costs). The carrier's straightforward lineup of unlimited offerings have proven eminently popular and shepherded in the "unlimited revolution," as other carriers have sought to imitate T-Mobile's success. The carrier's ONE plans are still some of our favorite unlimited plans on the market, packed with tons of features and reasonably priced. 
If you've been researching the best deals on cell phones, you've likely discovered there are many online and in-store options. We know when it comes to shopping phones on sale, it’s not just about finding the cheapest cell phone you can get, but finding one that meets your needs for both service and function. You'll want to evaluate which phone features are important to you whether it's screen size, screen resolution, camera, software features, and battery life, to name a few. Whether you are looking for iPhone deals or prefer an Android phone option, there is an ever-changing selection of smartphone deals available at Best Buy.
Usually, unlocked cell phones have the carrier's branding on the device. To test whether your phone is locked, insert a Telestial SIM Card or a SIM Card provided by a different carrier (than that of your device). If your device connects to a network and you are able to use the service, your phone is not locked. If your device does not connect to a network or you are unable to use the service, your phone may be locked.
Our rates to make and receive phone calls and for mobile data are small fractions of what the major carriers charge and typically with better coverage and faster data speeds and with transparent pricing. With Cellular Abroad, the service is pay as you go so you never need to worry about how much you are spending. International cellular service is what we do and what we know best.
TracFone, Net10, and Straight Talk, all properties of the Mexican carrier América Móvil, consistently rank among the most widely used prepaid services. They offer the advantage of reselling service from all four carriers, at the cost of having to trust the company’s judgment about which network works bests for you, as Prepaid Phone News editor Dennis Bournique explains in a helpful post.
BoostUP!: Req. 18-mo. installment agreement, 0% APR, & qualifying device & service plan. Eligible customers can finance up to $600 and the down payment will cover amounts over $600. A down payment is required at time of upgrade. Sales taxes for full purchase price due at the time of the sale. If you cancel wireless service, remaining balance on device becomes due.
Sprint: Sprint currently has some big discounts on Android and Apple devices, letting you get $450 back when you buy an iPhone X, iPhone 8, or iPhone 8 Plus if you add two new lines or one new line with a one-line upgrade — no trade-ins required. Sprint is also offering the best iPhone XS deal of all the carriers right now, letting you score an iPhone XS totally free or an XS Max for just $75 ($4.17 per month) with the trade-in of an eligible last-gen flagship. Android deals let you score the Samsung Galaxy S9 for $270, the Galaxy S9 Plus for $324, or the Galaxy Note 9 for $360 when you purchase one on an 18-month rent-to-own Sprint Flex lease.
Yes. If you place an international call from the areas located in your home 'footprint', then the call will be billed at the U.S Cellular per minute rate for international toll, plus airtime and applicable charges and taxes. If you are roaming and place an international call with another carrier, you will have access to the countries available through that carrier. The call will be rated according to the International toll rates charged by that carrier, plus airtime and applicable roaming charges and taxes.
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For each service, we computed the cost of a few typical bundles of smartphone service, setting minimal use at 1 gigabyte (GB) of data, moderate use at 3 GB, and heavy use at 5 GB. (Research firms’ estimates have shown steady increases in average use since the first version of this guide, but usage estimates per carrier have also diverged as some carriers have switched to selling only unlimited-data subscriptions: In the second quarter of 2018, Strategy Analytics found that Android users who had opted into its survey used on average 5.9 GB on T-Mobile, 5 GB on Sprint, 4.5 GB on Verizon, and 3.9 GB on AT&T. However, usage outside of the big four can be lower, to judge from the much lower monthly average reported by the wireless trade group CTIA for 2017: only 1.3 GB.
Moto E4: For one of the cheapest brand-name Android phones you can buy, check out the 4th-generation Moto E. You can score the E4 for $80 from Best Buy if you activate it today. If you don’t want to activate right away, then Walmart has this smartphone in stock for a still-affordable $100. This phone is fully unlocked and ready to use with any GSM carrier and select CDMA carriers.

Speed and capacity – When you really get down to it, the specs on the OnePLus 3T are mightily impressive. It comes with a Snapdragon 821 processor and 6GB of RAM as standard meaning functionality, and speed is fantastic. The basic (cheapest) model also comes with 64GB of storage, allowing you to take as many travel pics as you want without receiving storage notifications every 2 minutes.
Our estimates included only sales and discounts without expiration dates (though we included plans with “for a limited time” vagueness) and that are open to any customer (those that require trading in a phone or porting over a number didn’t qualify). If a plan offers a lower rate for automatic payments, we factored that discount in. We also allowed for regular purchases of an extra data pack or per-megabyte overage fees of $15 a gigabyte or less, but only up to $30 a month.
At UNREAL Mobile, get a 14-day trial of Unlimited Talk, Text, and Data + 5GB LTE (a $30 per month value) for free along with a 4G GSM 3-in-1 SIM Kit (a $15 value) for free. Pay only a one-time account setup fee of $0.01. Plus, free shipping applies (a $6.99 value). It works with most unlocked AT&T and T-Mobile GSM Android or iOS smartphones. Why get UNREAL Mobile?
Excluding plans that don’t let you bring your own device, Metro by T-Mobile, formerly MetroPCS, has the best rates for two-line scenarios—$70 for 5 GB each on two phones. That pricing easily beats T-Mobile’s own prepaid plans, and Metro by T-Mobile’s data caps exempt streaming video (at the cost of limiting its resolution to DVD-quality 480p resolution, although you can opt out of this Data Maximizer feature if you want).
A similar option to purchasing a phone abroad is to purchase a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card to use in your own cell phone while you’re traveling internationally. A SIM card is the part of a cell phone that holds the identity information and other personal data; if you switch your own SIM card for one that you purchase in another country, you can have all the benefits of a local phone (such as low in-country calling rates and a local phone number) without having to buy a whole new phone.
The difficulties I encountered are instructive as to what a prepay customer should understand bout service limitations when travel outside of the United States is contemplated. My experience also pointed to a glaring security problem for tracing criminals, terrorists, stalkers or others that seek to use their phone to facilitate illegal activities.
Aland Islands (Finland), Austria, Azores, Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Cyprus (South), Czech Republic, Denmark, Eire (Republic of Ireland), England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Guernsey, Hungary, Ireland (Eire), Ireland (Northern), Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Sicily, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Vatican City, Wales

Very pleased with this phone. Android version 4.1.2 and has not been upgraded from the manufacture, but it does run everything I want so it is acceptable. I need a dual SIM phone to separate my home/personal use from work, and this fits the bill. Internal storage is small, but I understand the cost of the phone, so I can tolerate that. I am not a gamer and only use it for calls, tasks, IM and email and some social networking. Only 3G so it is not as fast as some phones. I live in the mid-west of the United States on the T-Mobile system and reception is as good as other phones I have had. I do like this phone, small and easy to use. I would recommend this phone to others who just need a simple smart phone. I am sure ... full review
AT&T’s $80 Unlimited & More Premium plan gets you 15 GB hotspot use and HD video for $5 less than Verizon’s Beyond Unlimited rate, but its network trails T-Mobile’s in OpenSignal’s and PCMag’s studies. And we don’t think anyone should get its $70-per-month, no-hotspot-allowed Unlimited & More option. Like Verizon, it requires automatic payments for you to get its advertised prices but won’t let you make those on a credit card, and it disqualifies all of its discounts except its military/veterans deal from that plan.
Look for more tie-in deals from the carriers that throw in one video service or another, along the lines of T-Mobile’s free Netflix subscription with two-line plans, Sprint’s Hulu deal, AT&T’s WatchTV bundle, and Verizon’s $20 discount on a bundle of unlimited wireless and a triple-play of Fios Internet, phone, and TV service. (These media tie-ins are essentially another way carriers try to keep you around without the handcuffs of two-year contracts. Watch for new-lease or early-upgrade deals, but treat them with a fair amount of skepticism; buying your phone independent of service gives you far more leverage.)
Our cost estimates assume 400 voice minutes and 500 texts used per month. Those numbers fall roughly in the middle of usage data we saw from the Federal Communications Commission (PDF) and a 2013 PwC study (PDF), among other resources, but are above the much lower averages that CTIA reported for 2017 (187 voice minutes and 143 texts). Unlike postpaid services, many prepaid and resold services still limit your text messages and phone calls, so the actual cost of a particular carrier may be slightly more or less if you use more or fewer minutes and texts, respectively.
Although OnePlus is still relatively new in the market and even unknown to some, their devices are typically high-spec and come at a low cost which makes them ideal for traveling. Unlike previous OnePlus handsets, the 3T is actually pretty easy to hold. You can now purchase it directly from the company without having to jump through hoops as you did with the older handsets.
Bought this (Samsung j3 2016 international) for international travel using sim cards. Used it in Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. Was able to register and use it in each country, though usually had an issue using the internet directly on it and instead often employed it as a hot spot for my other phone (which is not otherwise compatible for international use). It worked great as a hotspot for internet and by itself for messaging, also worked great directly when there was wifi. Im not sure if the direct internet issues were with the service I bought, or some setting i had wrong, or with this phone itself, so cannot say. But it made connectivity possible and solidly reliable by acting as a mobile hotspot and I was traveling with both phones anyway, so to me that was not much of a problem, other than having to keep them ... full review
Aland Islands (Finland), Austria, Azores, Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Cyprus (South), Czech Republic, Denmark, Eire (Republic of Ireland), England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Guernsey, Hungary, Ireland (Eire), Ireland (Northern), Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Sicily, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Vatican City, Wales
Once we had an understanding of performance, we dug into the phone plans carriers offered and the prices they charged. Unless you’re purchasing a prepaid plan, the days of phone minutes and a nickel for every text are past — prices are based on data now. The best value is typically an unlimited data plan, but we looked into plans with tiered data, too. You’ll want to think about how often you use internet data (when not on Wi-Fi) to find a plan that fits your needs.

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Opting for Google’s Project Fi seems like a really great idea for a variety of reasons. First, the nuts and bolts: You can get calls and texts for $20 per month, and data for $10 per GB of use (and you can add extra people for $15 each). But what exactly makes the plan unlimited? You're only charged $10 for the GBs you use up until 6 GBs, then beyond that, it’s unlimited.

T-Mobile has carved a niche for itself in the U.S. with their all-in pricing (i.e. taxes and fees baked into plan costs). The carrier's straightforward lineup of unlimited offerings have proven eminently popular and shepherded in the "unlimited revolution," as other carriers have sought to imitate T-Mobile's success. The carrier's ONE plans are still some of our favorite unlimited plans on the market, packed with tons of features and reasonably priced. 
If you'd prefer to use a different Android phone or an iPhone, T-Mobile remains a strong alternative, letting T-Mobile One subscribers use data in more than 210 countries, though at 2G speeds. You can talk and text for free in Canada and Mexico, though T-Mobile limits you to 5GB of LTE data in those countries. (Be aware that the carrier's new T-Mobile Essentials unlimited plan doesn't include these international perks.)
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