If you make frequent trips overseas, T-Mobile’s plan is a no-brainer, especially now that more countries are covered. The carrier includes unlimited data and texting as part of its standard T-Mobile One unlimited plan (albeit at slower speeds than you’re used to in the states). If your calls include a lot of overseas numbers, it may even be worth upgrading to T-Mobile One Plus International for an extra $25 a month, since it lets you make calls to landlines and mobile numbers in many countries at no additional charge. Sprint offers something similar with its new unlimited plans and their access to the Global Roaming feature. But T-Mobile will cover you in more countries after July 22.
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.
Some carriers throttle prepaid service to a lower speed by default, as AT&T does with Cricket. Others prioritize their own customers over third-party prepaid traffic, as happens with the Metro by T-Mobile subsidiary. A T-Mobile spokesperson confirmed that policy, saying that although postpaid and prepaid T-Mobile service have the same priority, Metro by T-Mobile and other resellers “may notice slower speeds in times of network congestion.” However, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon told us that they didn’t impose any such prioritization, and one reseller of Sprint and T-Mobile told us that even T-Mobile’s policy had yet to show any effects. “We have done our own testing,” Ting marketing vice president Michael Goldstein wrote in an email. “We have never detected any difference.”
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.
Lots of people like to get prepaid plans because they are a way to get phone service without having to sign a contract. This means that you can end your service with a carrier at any time without consequence. If you have a yearly contract with a carrier and you want to cancel service before the end of the contract, you usually have to pay a fee for each of the remaining months in your contract. No contract cell phone plans typically require you to pay the full price of the phone. However, many companies will now let you pay off the phone over 24 months.
There are many phone deals available across both phone brands and carriers, making it easy to upgrade your current device or even to switch carriers if needed. Looking for the best iPhone deals to replace your older Apple model? You’ve come to the right place. Prefer a Samsung Galaxy phone or maybe a Google Pixel? We often have those and other smartphones on sale too.
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.
RootMetrics strives to be as comprehensive as possible in its methodology, which includes testing reliability and speed during file uploads and downloads, while downloading email, and while downloading files similar to typical web pages. Testers also measure how reliably each network places and maintains calls and how reliably and quickly subscribers can send and receive text messages.
Although prepaid and MVNO plans are cheaper, data is typically limited to around 3 GB; the highest cap we were able to find was 10GB. In other words, these plans are only going to work if you use very little data. You also won’t have access to lightning-fast load times or recently released smartphones. You’ll need to stick with a major carrier for either of these perks.
You can also look at phones that are ranked as best in class. This includes rankings for phones with the best battery life, thinnest form factor, highest quality display, and other high-end features. However, battery life is frequently dependent on your habits and how you use your phone. For example, if you check your email or text a lot, or you have lots of long conversations, you will burn battery life more quickly than someone else.
I love this phone. I was looking at the Galaxy 5 but I will not pay that much for a phone and I really hate contracts. I have kept my T-Mobile to go account and this phone is about as perfect as one can be. It's easy to use, fits easily into my pocket, doesn't drop calls, they keys are a good size, I love the features on it. I have the Android apps on it that I love and am no where's near running out of memory even with all the photos and things I have stored in it. The battery gets me through the day with energy to spare and if I get worried it charges pretty quickly.
If Verizon doesn’t cover your most frequented locations—or if you simply want a slightly cheaper option to postpaid service but don’t want to sacrifice customer support—Consumer Cellular is a great alternative. This reseller of AT&T and T-Mobile consistently tops customer surveys such as Consumer Reports’s latest, PCMag’s annual survey and J.D. Power’s most recent “wireless purchase experience” study. The service is marketed to seniors, but the things that make it good for seniors make it good for most people as well. Most important, it offers US-based phone support that caters to the non-tech-savvy and maintains an in-store presence in major retailers such as Target. We also like that it allows you to specify an AT&T or T-Mobile SIM, whereas many other prepaid carriers, such as TracFone, will determine that for you unless you buy a SIM card in person.
For example, let’s say you’re using a Mint Mobile plan while you’re on a business trip to Dubai. You open up WhatsApp to call your spouse, who then passes the phone to each of your kiddos before you have to end your 30-minute call and go to dinner with a client. That means you’ve used about about 22.5 MB of data,4 so that one call just cost you $4,50. It adds up fast.
Why we love it: T-Mobile's ONE family plan gives you 4 lines of unlimited data, Netflix subscriptions and unlimited hotspot usage (at 3G speeds)—all for $140 a month. Plus, it comes backed by T-Mobile's solid network. If you have a family full of data streamers and browsers, this plan is the way to go. Did I mention that all taxes and fees are included in this price?
I’ve covered the wireless industry since the late 1990s. (My first guide to cell phone service, written in 1998, devoted much ink to comparing analog and digital cellular.) I’ve tested smartphones and cell phone plans from all four major carriers for Boing Boing, CNN Money, Discovery News, PCMag, VentureBeat, The Washington Post, and others, and I now cover telecom-policy issues for Yahoo Finance (a subsidiary of Verizon’s media division Oath) and answer telecom questions in a USA Today Q&A column.
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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Lease (Sprint Flex): Mo. amount excl. tax. Terms for all other customers will vary including amount due at signing & taxes/fees. Req. qualifying device & svc. plan. No equipment security deposit req. Upon completion of 18-mo. term, customer can continue to pay mo. lease amount, purch. or return device. Customer is responsible for insurance & repairs. Early termination of lease/svc.: Remaining lease pymt. will be due immed. & req. device return or pymt. of purch. option device price in lease.
Prepay accounts in the United States offer anonymity to criminals wishing to obtain telecommunications services. The phones cannot be easily traced to a specific individual. Without call patterns that can be correlated to placed or received calls, there are very few effective ways for law enforcement to monitor or intercept communications between unregistered phones. This becomes even more difficult if encrypted services are also utilized.
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.
Verizon’s best plan for most people is also its least obvious offering: the 5 GB for $55 deal. It’s difficult to find this plan on Verizon’s homepage, but you should see this option if you select a phone, add it to your cart, and scroll past Verizon’s flagship “unlimited” offerings when selecting a plan. (Verizon’s website quotes a $60 rate for this plan, but signing up for auto-pay using a checking account or debit card gets you $5 off—though this precludes running up points on a travel-rewards credit card).
We used the iKits charger (white with gray) for a two week long trip in the UK. This charged even our sensitive devices (one phone and three Kindles) well and became our sole electronics charger for tablets and phones after the first day. The adapters snap in snugly and create a single unit that is secure, easy to use, and compact for travel. It is well made and fit securely everywhere we stayed. We never had surge or power issues.
Consumer Cellular’s prices aren’t quite as low as those of other resellers, but the company offers major savings in lower data-usage situations—the service is $15 to $30 cheaper if you expect to use 3 GB or less a month. Infrequent callers can get further savings by choosing one of Consumer Cellular’s lower voice allotments. And as the website reminds visitors, the company offers a 5 percent AARP discount. It blocks tethering by default but will enable that feature if you ask. And Consumer Cellular offers installment-plan purchase options with roughly the same terms as the majors do.
I write about all things "cyber" and your right to privacy. Before joining Consumer Reports, I spent 16 years reporting for The Associated Press. What I enjoy: cooking and learning to code with my kids. I've lived in the Bronx for more than a decade, but as a proud Michigan native, I will always be a die-hard Detroit Tigers fan no matter how much my family and I get harassed at Yankee Stadium. Follow me on Twitter (@BreeJFowler).
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.
Both Verizon and Sprint have added new unlimited plans with benefits for international travel; we've updated this guide to reflect those changes. T-Mobile will increase the number of travel destinations covered by its Simple Global feature as of July 22. It also plans to add a new $5 daily data pass with 512MB of LTE data for travelers starting August 1.
LG V40 ThinQ offer: LG V40 ThinQ MSRP $960.00. Credits end at end of term, early termination, early payoff or upgrade, whichever occurs first. Second Year Promise full terms and conditions apply; see LGPromise.com. The Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”) is $330 ($139 gimbal, $119 micro SD card, $72 Second Year Promise. Value for the LG Second Year Promise program is an approximation based on similar service).