Which unlimited plan should you buy: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon?

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All four major carriers in the U.S. offer unlimited data plans. But which is the best?

The big four networks in the United States (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon) all carry an unlimited data plan (or several). That’s important for power users as well as anyone who uses their mobile broadband internet as their sole way to stay in touch or for entertainment. These days, many of us just don’t have time to wait around with slower data.

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But just because everyone offers unlimited data, doesn’t mean that all plans are equal. Pricing is important, as are "extras" like tethering and the hidden data cap that pushes you back to slower 3G speeds when you reach it. And of course, zero-rating means we have to pay attention to what unlimited means when it comes to the quality of streaming media as well as the source.

We took a look at what each carrier has to offer so we can decide who delivers the very best unlimited data package. Let’s start with a look at the details for each carrier.

AT&T

Unlimited &More Premium

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • Subject to data throttling after 22GB
  • 15 GB mobile hotspot (tethering)
  • Full 1080p video streaming when Stream Saver is turned off
  • Unlimited calls to and free roaming in Mexico and Canada
  • Send unlimited texts to 120 countries
  • WatchTV included for free ($15/month value)
  • Your choice of HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Starz, VRV, Amazon Music, or Pandora Premium
  • One line of service on an AT&T Unlimited &More Premium plan is $80
  • Two lines of service for $149
  • Three lines cost $169 while four will set you back $189

Unlimited &More

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • Subject to data throttling after 22GB
  • Standard definition video streaming (480p)
  • Streaming speeds are capped at 1.5Mbps
  • Unlimited calls to and free roaming in Mexico and Canada
  • Send unlimited texts to 120 countries
  • WatchTV included for free ($15/month value)
  • One line of service on an AT&T Unlimited Choice plan is $70
  • Two lines of service for $125
  • Three lines cost $145 while four will set you back $157

Everything you need to know about AT&T’s unlimited plans

Sprint

Unlimited Premium

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • Unlimited data for streaming video at full resolution
  • Unrestricted data speeds for gaming and music streaming
  • 50GB LTE mobile hotspot
  • Unlimited talk, text, and LTE data when in Mexico and Canada
  • Global talk and text in nearly 200 countries
  • Hulu included for free ($7.99/month value)
  • Tidal Premium included for free ($9.99/month value)
  • Amazon Prime included for free ($12.99/month value)
  • Lookout Premium Plus included for free ($9.99/month value)
  • Two $10 Uber credits each month included for free
  • One line of service is $90
  • Five lines costs $54/month per line (total monthly cost of $270)

Unlimited Plus

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • Unlimited data for streaming video up to 1080p
  • Unlimited data for gaming up to 8Mbps
  • Unlimited data for streaming music up to 1.5Mbps
  • 15GB LTE mobile hotspot
  • Unlimited talk, text, and 10GB of LTE data when in Mexico and Canada
  • Global talk and text in nearly 200 countries
  • Hulu included for free ($7.99/month value)
  • Tidal Premium included for free ($9.99/month value)
  • One line of service is $70
  • Five lines costs $42/month per line (total monthly cost of $210)
  • For a limited time, bring your own devices and enable autopay for a total monthly cost of $120

Unlimited Basic

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • Unlimited data for streaming video up to 480p
  • Unlimited data for gaming up to 2Mbps
  • Unlimited data for streaming music up to 500Kbps
  • 500MB LTE mobile hotspot
  • Unlimited talk, text, and 5GB of LTE data when in Mexico and Canada
  • Global talk and text in nearly 200 countries
  • Hulu included for free ($7.99/month value)
  • One line of service is $60/month
  • Five lines of service is $24/month per line (total monthly cost of $120)

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Everything you need to know about Sprint’s Unlimited Freedom Plan

T-Mobile

T-Mobile ONE

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • Video streaming capped at 480p
  • Unlimited talk, text, and 5GB of LTE in Canada and Mexico
  • One hour of free Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi and unlimited texting on enabled flights
  • Unlimited data and texting in over 210 locations
  • Netflix is included for free on accounts with at least two lines ($9.99/month value)
  • One line of service on a T-Mobile ONE plan is $70 (including taxes and fees)
  • Two lines of service for $120 (including taxes and fees)
  • Three lines of service for $140 (including taxes and fees)
  • Four lines is $160 and each additional line adds $20 to the total (including taxes and fees)
  • For a limited time, you can get four lines at $30 each with autopay for a total cost of $140

T-Mobile ONE Plus (add-on)

  • Includes 720p video streaming
  • 20GB of LTE hotspot and then unlimited 3G speeds
  • 2x data speed when traveling (supported in over 210 countries)
  • Unlimited in-flight Wi-Fi on Gogo-enabled flights
  • Voicemail-to-text
  • Name ID
  • Costs $15 more per month (or $10 per line on 2+ line accounts)

Everything you need to know about T-Mobile’s unlimited plans

Verizon

Above Unlimited

  • Unlimited talk and text
  • 75GB of Premium Unlimited 4G LTE data
  • Video streaming at 720p
  • Unlimited mobile hotspot (first 20GB at LTE speeds)
  • Unlimited talk and text in Mexico and Canada
  • 5 free TravelPasses per month that offer 512MB of LTE data per day (usable in 130 countries, usage cannot exceed 50% outside of the U.S.)
  • Six months of Apple Music included for free ($9.99/month value)
  • 500GB of Verizon Cloud
  • $95/month for one line
  • $180/month for two lines
  • $210/month for three lines and $240/month for four lines

Beyond Unlimited

  • Unlimited talk and text
  • 22GB of Premium Unlimited 4G LTE data
  • Video streaming at 720p
  • Unlimited mobile hotspot (first 15GB at LTE speeds)
  • Unlimited talk and text in Mexico and Canada
  • 512MB of LTE per day in Mexico and Canada (usage cannot exceed 50% outside of the U.S.)
  • Six months of Apple Music included for free ($9.99/month value)
  • $85/month for one line
  • $160/month for two lines
  • $180/month for three lines and $200/month for four lines

Go Unlimited

  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Unlimited 4G LTE data (your speeds will be throttled more often compared to Beyond Unlimited and Above Unlimited customers)
  • Video streaming at 480p
  • Unlimited mobile hotspot (max speed of 600Kbps)
  • Unlimited talk and text in Mexico and Canada
  • 512MB of LTE per day in Mexico and Canada (usage cannot exceed 50% outside of the U.S.)
  • Six months of Apple Music included for free ($9.99/month value)
  • $75/month for one line
  • $130/month for two lines
  • $150/month for three lines and $160/month for four lines

Everything you need to know about Verizon’s unlimited plan

The best unlimited data plan

The best plan is the one that works where you need it to work, not the one that’s the cheapest. And we can’t tell you which that one is because it’s different for each of us. Paying more than you need to for phone service is a bad idea, but so is paying for service that doesn’t work.

Generally, if you live outside of a metropolitan area that means Verizon. A look at live, user-generated coverage maps from Open Signal shows there are significant gaps in T-Mobile’s coverage outside of metro areas. You will pay more for Verizon service when compared to T-Mobile (especially once taxes and fees are applied) but chances are Verizon will have the best coverage if you’re in a rural area. There are exceptions, so be sure to investigate before you give any company your money.

If you’re part of the 90% of the U.S. population who lives in a large town or city, your choices are expanded. T-Mobile is a great choice, as even with the One Plus add-on fee of $15 per month you’ll still save money because they include taxes and fees in the cost.

Sprint’s pricing offers a good value, but there are some very valid concerns about their network footprint. These can’t be ignored when talking about "the best", though. Sprint has taken great strides to improve their coverage, and if Sprint works everywhere you need it to work, you should definitely take a look at what they have to offer.

Of course, none of this includes any customer-loyalty offerings or legacy plans you might be using. In those cases, you might want to stick with the carrier you have now instead of switching because of new pricing or new promotions.

All this makes it very difficult to make a one-size-fits-all recommendation about which plan is the best. If you need nationwide coverage in places that might be a little out of the way, Verizon is a better value than AT&T and generally has a better network according to independent studies from sources like Root Metrics. If you stay on the beaten path, T-Mobile offers the better deal.

We can’t tell you which carrier will be the best for you. But we can tell you what to look for and where to start. Talk to your friends and see what service they are using and how well it’s working, and call each company to see exactly what they have to offer. Most carriers have plans they don’t advertise and one may fit your needs better than the default unlimited plans.

We just want you to enjoy the service you’re paying for!

See plans at AT&T

See plans at Sprint

See plans at T-Mobile

See plans at Verizon

Your turn

What carrier do you subscribe to? Are you happy or are you looking for something new? Add your experience to the comments and help sort this mess out!

Updated September 2018: This article has been updated to reflect changes to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon’s unlimited plans — namely, the removal of T-Mobile’s discontinued One Plus International add-on and the addition of Sprint’s new Unlimited Premium plan.

via Android Central – Android Forums, News, Reviews, Help and Android Wallpapers

September 24, 2018 at 06:05AM