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The time has finally come: after spending the biggest part of a decade with Verizon Wireless, I'm moving to a GSM carrier. This isn't just because of the Nexus 4, though - I've been debating on making the move for months now. However, Big Red delayed the inevitable change when they turned on LTE in my area.

Still, I'm sick of being tied down to CDMA carrier, and the recent Nexus 4 announcement is the straw that broke the camel's back. I don't want to be locked into a contract any longer, and there's only one economical way to get away from that: buy the Nexus 4 and move to a GSM carrier.

But, having been on VZW for quite a long time, I've had to do some research on which carrier best suits my needs - both pre- and post-paid. While researching this, it occurred to me that many of you may be facing the same quandary. Instead of leaving you out in the cold, though, I decided to share my findings.

Of course, this isn't an all-inclusive guide to GSM carriers, but rather a look at national providers that bring the most bang for the buck. This should give you a good idea of where to start looking, if nothing else. You'll have to check the coverage maps to make sure moving carriers is even a feasible option for you in the first place, though.

With that, let's get to it.

Pre-Paid

Straight Talk Wireless

When starting to look for reasonable pre-paid carriers, Tracfone-owned company Straight Talk was one of the first to come to mind, thanks to its clever commercials (good job, Straight Talk marketing team - mission accomplished).

Without having actually tried the service, ST talks a good talk. For $45 a month plus the cost of a SIM card (a one-time fee of $15), you get unlimited talk and text, as well as "unlimited" data. The latter needs to be in quotes because it's not really unlimited - they throttle after an undisclosed amount of data. From what I gathered, this amount can actually fluctuate between markets, and ST is never clear about the level (which is actually the opposite of "straight talk." Go figure). They'll warn you when you're using too much data, and reserve the right to boot you off their network at any given moment. For what it's worth, though, I've read on several different sites that the limit is "around 2GB." Grains of salt for everyone!

That aside, ST seems to be pretty straightforward: buy a SIM and drop it in your AT&T or T-Mobile compatible phone, activate service, and... done. The coverage map is pretty impressive, too:

Image[4]

Of all the pre-paid carriers I've looked at, Straight Talk is one of the few that is an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) of both AT&T and T-Mobile, meaning that it has made agreements with both and can actively use each carrier's network (you choose the appropriate SIM during the checkout process). In theory, this means that ST should be able to provide better coverage than an MVNO that just partners with one carrier. Definitely something to consider.

Official Site

Net 10

If you take a look at Net 10's SIM card site, you'll notice that it looks eerily similar to the Straight Talk SIM site, but with a different color scheme. There's good reason for this - they're both owned by Tracfone. Also like ST, Net 10 is an MVNO of both AT&T and T-Mobile, so it shares that benefit with its sister provider. Net 10's SIM is equally priced to that of ST, so it'll set you back a one-time fee of $15.

2012-10-31_09h27_56

However, the two are not alike in every way. For example, Net 10 costs $50 a month instead of ST's $45. I'm not entirely sure why there's a $5 difference in what appears to be the same basic plan from the same parent company, but it's there regardless.

Like ST, though, Net 10 also throttles your "unlimited" data after a certain amount of bandwidth is used. After a bit of research it looks like this limit is somewhere around 2-3GB. That is, of course, an estimated answer gathered from things I've read across the net and not at all definitive.

Official Site

Simple Mobile

Simple Mobile is a T-Mobile MVNO, so wherever T-Mo has coverage, so will SM. The SIMs will save you a couple bucks over Straight Talk and Net 10, as they come in at $13 for either standard or micro variants. Unlike the previous two carriers, Simple Mobile has a few different plans to choose from, starting with a $25 unlimited talk and text only 15-day plan. Considering that's pretty much useless for smartphone users, we'll jump to the only one that is: $50 for unlimited talk, text, and 3G/4G (T-Mobile HSPA+) web. There's also a $60 plan with all the same features and the addition of unlimited international long distance.

image

Like the others, Simple Mobile isn't clear about its bandwidth policy. From what I've read, the company does throttle data after a certain amount has been consumed, which is said to be somewhere around 5GB. Again, though, all we have to go on is hearsay and shouldn't be taken as certainty.

Official Site

Solavei

Like Simple Talk, Solavei is a T-Mobile MVNO, but the similarities end there. In fact, the similarities to all pre-paid carriers end there. Solavei is a new take on mobile service, as it relies on a built-in social network to broaden its horizons. This video explains it better than I ever could, so I'll just let you watch it:

As you can see, this is a unique take on cell service. Unlike the previously mentioned networks, though, Solavei has a fairly steep activation fee of $49, plus a SIM card fee of $30. That makes your upfront cost $80, whereas it's $15 or less from the other companies we've looked at so far. Ouch.

image

Solavei's one and only plan is $50 a moth for unlimited talk, text, and data, which is throttled after 4GB.

Of course, you do have the potential of saving money each month by expanding your own personal network. It really just reminds me of a pyramding scheme, only with cell service. Take that however you will, but personally, I'm not sure I'm ready to make that leap.

Official Site

A few others

While the first four are fairly unique in both coverage and service offered for the price, there are a slew of others that offer very similar service to one another. I actually consider most of these to a rip-off in comparison, but they may work for someone out there, so here they are.

The providers: Red Pocket Mobile, Jolt Mobile, SkyView Wireless, and Black Wireless.

Each and every one one of those are AT&T MVNOs, and offer very, very similar service and coverage (which is the same as AT&T's GoPhone, shown below). For $60 a month, you get unlimited talk and text, as well as 2GB of data from SkyView and Black Mobile (hey, at least these guys are clear on that). For the same price, Jolt offers the same features, but only allowing 1GB of data. Red Pocket's plan is the same as Jolt, but only costs $55 a month.

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Past those small differences, I couldn't really find any good reason to choose one over the other. Or, really, to choose any of these over the aforementioned four. Maybe you can.

T-Mobile Pre-Paid

I wasn't going to include this one on the list, but after looking into a bit more more, I thought it might appeal to someone out there. It probably goes without saying that this runs on T-Mobile's HSPA+ network, so let's just skip into the plan details.

For $30 a month, T-Mo will give you 100 minutes of talk time, along with unlimited text and data (throttled after 5GB). For those who don't do much actual talking on the phone, this plan's a no-brainer. It's only thirty dollars!

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If you need more talk time, though, the plans change pretty drastically. $50 a month will get you unlimited talk, text, and data, but the throttling starts after a meager 100MB. Boo! For $10 more a month, you can bump bump the throttle cap up to 2GB, which is a much better deal.  But if that's still not enough un-throttled data for you, $70 gives you unlimited everything with 5GB of HSPA+ bandwidth before the slowdown. The only issue there, though, is that after fees and taxes, you're approaching post-paid pricing. Speaking of...

Post-Paid

AT&T vs. T-Mobile

For whatever reason, you may not want to jump on with a pre-paid carrier. There's nothing wrong with that, because being on a post-paid carrier does offer some benefits, like family plans for example.

When it comes to post-paid GSM carriers here in the U.S., there's no doubt that AT&T is the top dog. It offers an expansive HSPA+ network, an up and coming LTE network (not that it matters if you're getting the Nexus 4, though), and coverage basically everywhere you could possibly want to go. The downside? It's pricey. Far more than any of the other providers we've mentioned thus far.

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Where most pre-paid providers offer one or two different plans to choose from, you have a plethora of decisions to make with a post-paid carrier like AT&T. Do you want an individual plan, or a family plan? If the latter, do you want to share a data bucket? Are you going to need more than 2 or 4GB of data? How many voice minutes will you use? These are all questions that you'll have to answer if making the jump to Big Blue. It can be overwhelming, especially when you consider the price between "traditional" plans and shared data.

Honestly, I could probably do an entire post covering nothing but the difference between the Big Four's plans and how they compare to each other. Ergo, it's really hard to sum up which plans are the best buy, since it really depends on your situation, how many people you'll be sharing a plan with, and so many other variables. I will say this, though: if you know someone who already has an existing Family Play with AT&T, you may want to see about jumping onboard with them. For roughly $40 a month (granted they're on a "traditional" plan), you can get service with 3GB of data. Of course, you'll have to share minutes, so it's up to you and the plan owner to decide if that's a feasible option.

And then there's T-Mobile, the exclusive launch partner for the Nexus 4... though I'm not sure why anyone would actually pay $200 and sign a two-year contract for the phone when you can get it for $300-$350 directly from the Play Store without a contract. That's probably why you're reading this post, after all.

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Much like with AT&T, T-Mobile offers a wide variety of options when it comes to mobile plans. You'll have to ask yourself the same questions all over again when comparing prices.

When it comes to individual plans, T-Mo definitely crushes AT&T on price. You can get unlimited talk and text, plus 2GB of "high-speed" data (after which it will be throttled) for $70 on T-Mo. The closest similar plan on AT&T will set you back $100 (though it includes 3GB of data). To add insult to injury, if you go over your data cap with AT&T, you'll get hit with a fee. On T-Mo, however, you just have to deal with slower data speeds one your 2GB limit has been reached. Inconvenient, sure - but it saves you money in the long run.

Then there are family plans, which are an entirely different (overly complicated) beast. On T-Mo, you can get unlimited talk, text, and shared data for $160, and each additional line will set you back $30. With AT&T, unlimited talk and text is $120, with each additional line costing $50. Oh, and you have to fork over more money for data on each line, too.

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A little scenario, for comparison purposes: let's say you have two lines on a family plan. With T-Mobile, you'll pay $190 a month (plus taxes and fees, of course). On AT&T, you'll shell out $170 just for voice and text, then tack on $30 per line for data. That brings your bill up to $230 - a full $40 more than T-Mobile.

On the other hand, though, AT&T also offers a Mobile Shared Plan, so let's see how that compares. Again, with two lines. All shared plans include unlimited data and text, but you have to choose how much data you'll use every month between the lines. The more data you get, the cheaper each phone becomes (see the chart below). So, if you have two lines and select a 6GB data package, it'll cost you $90 for data, then $35 for each smartphone, for a total of $160. That's basically the same as the above mentioned plan (unlimited voice and text, plus roughly 3GB of data per line), but saves $70 a month and actually competes with what T-Mobile can offer.

2012-10-31_12h22_42

AT&T's Mobile Share Plan pricing

Honestly, we could do these comparisons all day long, but at the end of it all, only one thing matters: coverage. There's no point in paying anything if the coverage isn't what you need. Truth be told, when it comes down to it, AT&T's network is much, much larger than that of T-Mobile. However, if T-Mo has service in your area, it's worth looking into - it may just save you some funds every month.

Update: It has just been brought to my attention that T-Mobile actually won't provide post-paid service without a two-year contract, even if you bring your own phone. Boo on you T-Mobile!

Conclusion

Switching cell providers can be an overwhelming and daunting task. There are so many options out there - some of which you may not even have known existed before this post. Still, after taking the time to weigh all the choices, you'll find that there may be more economical plans available compared to your current plan (I did, anyway). Hopefully this write-up shines a little light on subject and helps you make the decision on which provider is best for you.

I want to give a special shoutout to LionAR10 at the XDA forums, because this would've been much more difficult to write without this incredibly helpful thread.

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, and musician. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6- or 7-string, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • Aaron Berlin

    How about an article on "Tips for getting out of a Verizon contract without paying an ETF"? After that, I promise to read this very closely.

    • http://halljake.com Jake Hall

      the most sure fire way is to wait for some sort of fee increase. Then find your contract, look up that fee to make sure it isn't classified as a tax, then call and say it's adversely affecting you. By law they have to let you our of your contract. They'll argue with you like crazy, but eventually you can escape...

      Really though, I've done the math and by switching from by $100/month Verizon plan, even including the cost of the N4 and my ETF I'll save money by what would have been the end of my Verizon contract (13 months from now) for all prepaid plans up to $54/month...

    • Jill

      Here's how you do it; it takes planning and subterfuge, but it got me out of my VZW contract:

      1) (If you really do have a dead zone in your house, you can skip this step and just use that) Make a Faraday cage out of metal mesh (seriously).
      2) Periodically, and only while *at your billing address* (very important) on "dummy" calls (with people who know what you're doing), go into your dead zone or put the phone in your Faraday cage to force the call to drop.

      3) Repeat over a couple of weeks to be convincing.
      4) Call VZW to complain about crappy service and say you want out because you can't place calls from home. Explain that it's very likely that this call will drop because your home isn't well covered, and request a callback if it does.
      5) Drop the call. If they call back, speak for a bit and say how if it drops again, you'll call back later from somewhere you do get service. Drop the call.
      6) Call back from where you "have service" and demand to be let out of your contract.
      7) PROFIT (er, lack of loss).

      Based on the evidence of the dropped calls, traceable to your home area, through their tower data, they'll have to let you out without ETF.

      • underdonk

        Congrats on committing fraud!

        • Bariman43

          Who, Verizon or the OP?

      • Brian Menius

        I can't decide whether this is crooked or hilarious.

        Hilariously crooked, maybe? Yeah. I'll go with that.

      • http://twitter.com/MrYuzhai *Certified_geek™

        i suggest everyone does just that!

      • MeCampbell30

        Also, make sure to place your complaint the EXACT DAY the nexus 4 comes out. They won't suspect a thing.

      • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

        If it weren't for the wildly unethical tactics of Verizon, I would find this type of stunt deplorable. Considering who it's aimed at, I'll call it commendable ;)

      • itznfb

        This sounds a lot like fraud. Maybe because it is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/humberto.verdugo1 Humberto Verdugo

    How can I leave verizon without getting charged with ridiculous fees ? ... I have unlimited data with verizon and if I get a new phone I will lose the unlimited data, can I use that as an excuse?

    • http://www.facebook.com/vanhouse David VanHouse

      ETF are unavoidable. You will quickly recoup the ETF with the monthly savings alone. I saved 110/month by switching to Tmobile prepaid 30/month plan

    • JG

      No. That won't affect you're current contract. When you get a new phone & lose unlimited, you'll be signing a new contract with the shared tiered data stipulations....

      Also, you do have the option of buying the phone at full price and keeping unlimited data so... They're not forcing you to lose unlimited data...

      • http://www.facebook.com/humberto.verdugo1 Humberto Verdugo

        Thank you

        • JG

          For some reason this got marked as a new reply... While I was reading it again, I realized a duh moment... If you want to leave Verizon without paying the Early Termination Fee.... DON'T GET A NEW PHONE... Your contract is up at that point, you can leave without paying a single cent (except whatever you owe for your last month of service of course)...

  • IamTheFij

    Another thing to keep in mind with the T-Mobile $30/mo plan.

    Overage on your minutes is only 10c/min.

    I don't talk much on my phone (I have Google Talk, G+ and other services). Because of that I don't use that many minutes, but I generally use more than 100. Considering the price of 10c/min, 100 extra minutes is only $10.

    My usages is generally 150-200 min a month. This puts my monthly cost at $35-$40, which is still cheaper than any of the $50 plans. In fact, to even match those you need to be using 300 min a month to make the $50 plans worth while.

    So if your usage is generally less than 300 min, it's a no brainer. The money you save on low months will easily make up for months you go over.

    • RedPandaAlex

      Same here. I do have a VoIP solution, but sometimes it's not as reliable so I just go over my minutes, but I never go over my minutes enough that it's more than 45 dollars.

    • wil thames

      If someone calls you, does that go against the 100 minutes? Being on Sprint for so long I have forgotten the little details of what consumes a minute of talk time.

      • IamTheFij

        Yea, unlike across the pond we do get billed for those minutes.

        On Sprint you can log in and check your usage though. If you're around 300 this is a pretty good option. Otherwise the T-Mobile Value Plans offer totally unlimited everything for $70/mo as well with no contract. Or you could go with any of the other carriers listed here for $50/mo.

        • Tee

          I'm not sure if I should tell this, but to give you a little perspective I'll do it. I live in Finland.

          I'm on a contract of _unlimited_ (truly UNlimited) data plan with 17.90€ per month. Every call is 0.395 € per minute and really per minute, not per every beginning minute. So if the call is shorter than a minute-long, the cost is also less. SMS's cost the same 0.395€ each.

          To me your rates are outrageous...

          • Tee

            And addition to my previous note, the data speed in my contract is always the maximum. Of course it varies if I'm on my summer cottage or at home.

          • Tee

            This must be the morning, the rates for minute and an individual SMS are of course 0.0395 Euros. Sorry!

  • RedPandaAlex

    T-Mobile has post-paid SIM-only plans that are cheaper: 60 a month for unlimited talk and text plus 2gb unthrottled data. http://www.t-mobile.com/shop/Packages/ValuePackages.aspx - ten dollars cheaper than if you buy a subsidized device. It still requires a contract, but it saves you a little money over the long term if you buy a Nexus 4 unlocked and then get on this plan vs getting a subsidized Nexus 4 from T-Mobile.

    • nukeblitz

      T mo offers the same prices in prepaid. There is no reason to go postpaid with contract.
      $60 for unlimited everything with 2GB 3G
      $70 for unlimited everything with 5GB 3G

      There isn't one good reason to get stuck in a contract with tmo - they have the same prices in prepaid

      • R F

        There are reasons to go postpaid. It's up to each individual to decide whether they're worth it.

        The biggest one is that postpaid gives you access to T-Mobile's roaming agreements. Pre-paid means no roaming, which depending on where you are can be an issue.

        The other one is conditional call forwarding. This lets you use Google Voice for just your voicemail, without having to use your voice number. Without it, you either have to go all in with Google Voice or don't use it.

        • nukeblitz

          True, both fair points and there are people who would value that o er the flexibility of prepaid.

          Still, what exactly do you mean by roaming agreements? Wouldn't it be simpler and. Cheaper to just get a pre paid number when you travel internationally?

          • Freak4Dell

            He means domestic roaming agreements. None of the networks have full coverage of the country, and T-Mobile's coverage is smaller than the big 2. T-Mobile has roaming agreements in place with AT&T and various regional carriers in certain areas that their own coverage doesn't extend to, so that customers can still access voice and limited data features.

          • nukeblitz

            That's bad - now I've got to go change advice I gave to my friend...oh well

            So, the only option for getting good coverage and not being in a contract is an AT&T MVNO...

            All this doesn't apply to me anyhow - where I live, I get 10GB data, 500 minutes for about $25 a month - excess calls are 1cent a minute (outgoing calls only all incoming free). The US has absurd rates

  • http://www.facebook.com/tjmur3 TJ Murphy

    over all well written but there is a typo in the last paragraph, second sentence "option" when it should be "options"

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Thanks. Fixed!

      • jesus

        and "Solavei's one and only play is $50 a moth"

        • hi

          "simple talk" (mobile)

  • marcusmaximus04

    Does the $30 t-mobile pre-paid plan include free calls to t-mobile customers? Or is it 100 minutes total, regardless of who you call?

    • contriver87

      Nope. Any call you make will count against the 100 minutes.

      • Greg Sanders

        Including setting up voice-mail. D'oh!

        Lesson learned.

  • http://www.facebook.com/archercc Ryan Stewart

    Thanks for this. Im giving Sprint the boot in Jan when my contract is up. Im fed up with 200k/s "3g" only to occasionally get "4g" that is 4mb/s TOPS. Generic AT&T "3g" gets that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1312291338 Tim Miller

    You should give more thought to the $30/mo T-Mobile plan! I've been using it for a couple months. You have a few choices with it, really.

    It's only 10 cents each for more minutes, so even if you need 250 or so it's the same price as Straight Talk, except with a clear defined (higher) data cap.

    Or, if you have WiFi at home and work, you can use VoIP any time you're not out and about. For me, this reduced my minute usage down to almost nothing, as most of my calls are made from those two places (and I imagine most can say the same). There's a metric ton of easy VoIP solutions, with GrooveIP probably being the easiest to set up (via Google Voice).

    Speaking of Google Voice, I highly recommend making the jump to it and committing to it 100%. I don't even know what the heck my T-mobile number is off the top of my head, and that's awesome. It means I can rip their SIM card out and throw it away if they ever change their prices and switch to a competitor in a matter of seconds by just popping in the new SIM and updating my GV account. Not having to port numbers saves a lot of headaches (and 24-72 hour service interruptions suck).

    • http://halljake.com Jake Hall

      I've been strongly considering making the switch to T-Mobile prepaid, but I've heard there are a lot of problems with Google Voice and T-Mobile prepaid.

      I've used Google Voice for voicemail, but never anything more, however, I'm wondering if it is possible to exclusively use my GV number to receive calls and texts (excepting MMS, as far as I know, it is) but also to place calls and have the number that shows up on the receiver's phone be my Google Voice number - but use my Prepaid minutes, not GV account minutes.

      Thanks a lot!

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1312291338 Tim Miller

        Yep, everything you described is 100% possible. I do it now.

        The Google Voice app for Android has a setting to place all calls using its number. Anyone getting a call from you will see it as coming from your GV number. Incoming calls, of course, work as well - just have them forward to the T-mobile number and you're set.

        The lack of MMS support can be annoying at first for anyone who uses it a lot, but I have told the few friends/family that often send MMS to send it to my email instead. That way I get the full resolution image anyway.

        SMS support rules. I can't tell you how handy it is to use GV's website to text from a desktop when I'm near one. It looks a heck of a lot better at work then pecking away at my phone, that's for sure ;)

        • http://halljake.com Jake Hall

          Awesome, that's good to hear!

          My wallet might not appreciate the $530 it'll have to drop to make this happen, but in a year when I'm sitting at least $300 ahead, I think it will be well worth it...

        • san2beez

          Google voice supports MMS via Gmail, so if someone send you MMS, its suppose to be in your mail. Also, you reply and place call with your data plan if you download app like Talkatone, which uses GV and support MMS.

        • breeegz

          I have it fwd my texts to my work email and reply from outlook... it looks like I'm doing work.

      • R F

        T-Mobile has problems with using Google Voice just for voicemail without using your Voice number. It's impossible on their prepaid since they don't include conditional call forwarding.

        So if you want to use Google Voice with T-Mobile prepaid, it's either go all in or don't do it. But if you do go all in, then it works great.

        • http://halljake.com Jake Hall

          Good to know. I don't mind using my google voice number and going "all in" as it were, I just wanted to be sure that "all in" would satisfy my needs...

        • Jamie Hamel-Smith

          I've read that you can make this work by calling customer service and telling them to disable voice mail on your T-Mobile number.

    • http://www.WonhoPhoto.com/ Frank Lee

      Hello Tim,

      I am currently on T-mobile pay-as-you-go plan right now. Which means, I cannot hop on that $30/mo deal without changing my number (which I am not planning to)

      how was your experience with Straight Talk?
      Comparing both Straight Talk and T-Mobile, would you say they have similar coverage? (where ever you might reside)

      Thank you for your help.

      • davr

        Port your current number to google voice (one time $20 fee), then you can switch to any provider ever and not worry about losing the number or having to port it again.

        • http://www.WonhoPhoto.com/ Frank Lee

          that sounds great, but what would that do to my current google voice number (which i use exclusively for business aside from my actual cell phone number)

          • Helpful Bob

            Port to something other than t-mobile like virgin for one month, then port back back.

          • IamTheFij

            I know it's late... but you can just create a new gmail account to port the number to as just a holding spot. You don't have to use it.

  • Wil Smith

    I've been on Straight Talk a little over 2 months now. It does the job for me for only 45 a month. Check emails, social networks, downloading apps, etc. Screw the damn contracts! Can't wait for the Nexus 4! :)

  • Lance

    T-Mobile value plans are a very good option also sice we are bringing our own nexus to the party. They offer cheaper plans, I think 1000 mins and unlimited text and data for $100 for 2 lines....it's all on the website.

  • http://twitter.com/BeefIsForDinner Jason Pucilowski

    I previously had T-Mobile and had very poor reception in my house, thus making me switch to Verizon and the service here is much better. I do plan on buying the unlocked 16gb version, but I think I will choose to keep my Verizon plan and just pay $45 from the unlimited Straight Talk plan using AT&T.

  • Lte_Addict

    i have at&t's individual plan 3g of data, 450 mins, unlimited mobile to any mobile so im okay with minutes, and im fine with my 3g because im mostly on wifi wherever i go, and it runs me for about 90 a month, pretty cool for me, i'll just sim swap from my s3 to my nexus 4 when i get it

  • Nexus4Life

    Just a hint: Don't pay anything extra for tethering or hotspot service. It's not a service but a feature of the phone which will be available on the Nexus 4 like it is on the Galaxy Nexus. I still can't believe that cell phone companies can get away with charging monthly for tethering... It's the equivalent of Comcast or some other ISP charging you an extra fee to use a wireless router at home.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1312291338 Tim Miller

      Agreed 100%. I tether whenever I need to do so (admittedly not very often - maybe once per month for 20 minutes for basic web browsing - rarely more then 100mb). I'm not at all afraid of having my service fined or cut off, because with the beauty of prepaid GSM, I ran rip the SIM card out and switch to a competitor's in a matter of seconds. Not being tied down by a contract is awesome.

    • itznfb

      They aren't supposed to. Verizon lost a huge court battle earlier this year and are no longer allowed to charge for tethering.... I can't remember if this ruling only impacted VZW's network or if the FCC just hadn't reached the other carriers yet. It's probably in this article I'm too lazy to re-read: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-57485518-94/what-verizons-fcc-tethering-settlement-means-to-you-faq/

  • http://www.facebook.com/kayjay45 K.j. Littlejohn

    This was a very hard read cause I found myself really not caring,so I scrolled to the comments to see what's going on. That was just to much smh

  • http://www.facebook.com/vanhouse David VanHouse

    Tmobile prepaid 30/month here and loving it

  • fixxmyhead

    simple talk? its simple mobile get it right cameron. did u even bother to check out the site

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Oops. After looking into about 25 different providers over the past two days, the names got mixed up in my head.

    • Scott

      Geez cut the guy a break.

      • fixxmyhead

        no! but he fixed it anyways

  • Scott

    Ha I just mentioned this to Artem in one of the previous articles today.

  • Isidhu

    "Solavei's one and only play is $50 a moth for unlimited talk, text, and data - though it's not clear if the provider throttles after a certain amount."
    The plan has a very clear policy to throttle after 4gb many other carriers dont have a policy in place and the celings are based on user feedback which are an approximate.

  • White Pawn

    I have a basic question about the whole thing. The way I think about it is - I am going to be using a mobile phone for the next two years. So why not sign a contract, and get the benefit of a couple of hundred dollars (in subsidy on a phone)?

    Am I missing something here?

    • delesh

      By going pre-paid BYOD you save on the monthly cost of your phone bill (if your situation is a fairly normal one). For instance, if a phone costs $200 subsidized with a 2 year contract and you pay $90/month, it would be a total cost of $2360 after 2 years. If you buy the phone without a contract at $600 and pay $30/month, the total cost for 2 years would be $1320. Over $1000 saved. With the relatively low unlocked price of the Nexus 4 the savings are even greater. Plus if a better plan comes around you can just hop on that without paying early termination fees.

      • White Pawn

        I understand the math here, but unless you are saying that a $90 per month post-paid plan provides you with the same stuff as a $30 per month pre-paid plan, it is an unfair comparison.

        May be you can find examples if you take the post-paid plan of AT&T and compare that we a pre-paid plan of StraightTalk or something similar. But then, are the services provided equally reliable? Since they use infrastructure of AT&T (or one of the big four) anyway, who is to say that their traffic is not made low priority?

        Now, if we compare pre-paid and post-paid plans of AT&T, I am unable to find such examples as you have mentioned.

        • delesh

          I cannot guarantee that Straight Talk traffic is not made lower priority from regular AT&T traffic, as I don't work for them, but I don't think that happens. However, I believe AT&T LTE is only available on post-paid. You wont get the same level of customer service or actual stores to visit for issues as that's where a lot of the savings comes from. So, no you won't get the same level of service, but from what I've heard most people seem to be fairly happy with what they get for the price. You should definitely read more about the pros and cons of pre-paid before switching. It's not for everyone, but it can be a huge money saver and offer a lot of freedom.

    • http://www.nick.pro/ Nicholas Moline

      The Nexus 4's pricing is very good for an unlocked contract-free phone at $299 and it is a brand new top-of-the-line smartphone.

      Most contract pricing that I've ever seen has been way too high. I had 2 phones with sprint, and did not have their unlimited package and I was paying over $200 a month (unlimited would have been even more) thanks to all the "premium" data plans they tack on top of it (with sprint there are 2 separate "premium" data plan charges added).

      Now that I'm on Straight Talk I'm paying $45/month for unlimited (although I'm having data issues) everything (that is per-phone which means I'm paying $90 total for 2 phones), that saves me quite a bit.

      Supposedly the family plans get cheaper the more phones you add, but for 2 phones, non-contract is simply the cheapest way to go, and the savings easily make up the difference in that "subsidy" in just 1 month (I could get the Nexus 4 for $199 with a contract or $299 without, so the subsidy is only a hundred bucks, which I save in just 1 to 2 months), and I can switch carriers at the drop of the hat.

  • Nikhil K

    Thanks a lot for this piece! I took T-Mo thinking that's the only provider giving unlimited @ $50 (2G obviously)... but now I might just switch to Straight talk! :)

  • Greyhame

    Great article idea. Will certainly be using this as basis for my research into switching away from VZW and their money hungry ways. Thanks!

  • Xiazer

    Ok now before I get flamed, do any of these networks support iPhone? I will be getting the nexus 4 but my wife uses the iPhone, I've read straight talk works minus visual voicemail. We have AT&T now and hate it, but we can move to Straight Talk and pay almost 40 bucks a month less.

    • Moleculor

      I don't know much about iPhones, but I think the issue you're more likely to run into (assuming your current iPhone is on AT&T or T-Mobile) is that your iPhone doesn't support these plans.

      It's iPhone. It's probably locked down to one specific carrier, and I don't even know if you can get the SIM card out of it. I heard they have batteries you can't remove, right?

    • JG

      AT&T obviously does as they were the exclusive launch partner up to the 4 when Verizon got access. And I believe there is some loophole you might be able to jump through to get it onto a pre-paid plan - with unlimited data - possibly...

      IIRC, I believe people were able to get the iPhone activated on T-Mo's network, at least the 3G version, maybe 3GS. I'm not sure if later versions will work. However, again, IIRC, these phones were unable to access the 3G network & were stuck at 2G speeds...

      I'd assume, technically at least, if you could get the phone unlocked, you shouldn't have any issue getting it to operate on one of the pre-paid networks. Since they're using AT&T or T-Mo's network there wouldn't be any issues with frequencies or encrypted data transfers or whatever....

  • Luke

    I'm currently using Straight Talk. I chose the AT&T sim and haven't missed a thing. Coverage is same as post paid, including roaming, and my monthly bill comes to $50 and change after taxes. The fact I need more voice minutes coupled with T-Mobiles poor service in my locale kept me from the $30 T-Mobile plan. I researched my historical data usage on AT&T before switching to pre paid and found my usage falls below the rumored soft limit of 2GB monthly. I use wifi for heavy downloading but seems like a small thing for the monthly savings. This nexus device is my next phone.

    edit for sp

  • Metageek

    Didn't T-Mobile get a roaming agreement from AT&T as part of the breakup? Does it apply to 3G? (It must, since T-Mobile has said they're planning to shut down their 2G network.) With the pentaband Nexus 4 (or the Galaxy Nexus, same story), you could, in theory, pay T-Mobile prices and get AT&T coverage. Although there are footnotes on their site saying, "Roaming and on-network data allotments differ; see rate plan for details.".

  • Moleculor

    I should warn that I recently had to switch from Straight Talk. A couple months back my data connection just simply stopped working at any decent speed/response time (I went from 200ms pings and 1400 kbps speeds to 600ms pings and as low as 27kbps down, 16kbps up). I was essentially only getting about 2% of what I used to get in terms of speed, and ping times that bad sometimes meant my speeds didn't matter at all.

    I tried flashing new radios, new RILs, flashing CM10 rather than stock, nothing was working. Calling their "support" line, I was walked through the basic tech support steps... and then the person at the other end asked me the weirdest question: What zip code are you using the phone in?

    Turns out that they (now?) only allow you to use what you're paying for in the zip code you activated the SIM card in. Since I activated the phone at home, and my town has five separate zip codes in it (I live 10 minutes or less from the four I don't live in, and work in one of them), my phone became useless any time I left the house. Since I already have WiFi at my house... I was paying for something I couldn't use.

    I've since switched to T-Mobile (and then had to call Straight Talk back and get them to cancel the SIM card, because apparently me transferring my phone number off of it wasn't enough to tell them I wasn't using it any more, though it might be related to them both being T-Mobile cards). My data speeds have returned to normal (after a day or two wait).

    • Scott

      Is that in ST's terms and conditions?

      • Moleculor

        IANAL, but it doesn't look like it specifically is. It has plenty of "coverage not guaranteed", "coverage map does not guarantee coverage" and "reserve the right to modify your plan at any time" things in the terms that probably leave them the option, depending on which judge/jury you ask.

        • Scott

          I sent an email to their support team. I'll post back when I receive an answer.

          • Moleculor

            Some further information if needed:

            I'm using a Galaxy Nexus (compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile's 3G and "4"G networks). I was using their T-Mobile SIM cards. (Currently on T-Mobile and it works fine, so it wasn't a problem with T-Mobile's towers, unless it mysteriously got fixed when I switched carriers.)

            I had four bars.

            The support call went something like this:

            1. Usual "turn it off and on again" crap.

            2. "I'm not showing an outage in the area," despite the fact that the problem wasn't a pure outage, but more of a degradation in service.

            3. "What zip code are you in?"

            A Google Internet Search for "straight talk zip code data" should bring up a bunch of other people with the same problem. Much of the reports are conflicting, but I suspect that this whole "data only works in your zip code thing" is actually something they switched on/off a month or two ago, hence the conflicting reports.

            And, again, bouncing off the same towers with the same phone, ROM, and radio, but "T-Mobile" instead of "Straight Talk T-Mobile", has no perceivable issues. Slowest I've seen so far (haven't done as much testing, but this was the middle of the afternoon) was about 650kbps, vs the 1490kbps this area seems to max out at.

          • Luke

            Hopefully this is no longer an issue. I travel outside of my zip fairly often and haven't noticed any change at all. AT&T compatible sim.

          • Moleculor

            It was an issue about three or four days ago. Dunno about now.

  • Curious

    If I am on Sprint and want to move to the TMO $30 plan with the Nexus 4, will I be able to keep my existing phone number? Or will I have to get a new number b/c of the CDMA/GSM switch?

    • JG

      You should be able to port your number just fine. I've gone from Verizon to AT&T and back to Verizon with the same number, no problems.

    • http://twitter.com/Xeratun Xeratun

      You should be able to keep it. Numbers aren't connected to types of cell technology. I'm personally not familiar with porting your number while breaking contract, or how it works with prepaid, but it should since number porting is required by law.

  • Greg Sanders

    FWIW, just got on T-Mobile pre-paid with the $30 100 minutes, ulimited text/data plan today.

    I'm getting much better reception than AT&T ever gave in my building, and data speeds are much faster too.

    The real test is when I go on a road trip...

  • Austin00

    Wow, thank your for this

  • unhappybirthday

    So which of them (other than T-Moble support (theoretical) 42 Mbps HSPA+?

  • Brian Menius

    I'm preparing to make the switch from Verizon to TMo. I'm going to be signing up for one $70/mo unlimited line and two $60/mo unlimited lines. It's not a huge savings over my Verizon service in net terms, but when you consider base rate vs base rate, it's substantially cheaper for the service delivered.

    I, too, am looking forward to being on a GSM carrier. I'm going to get my Note II within the next week or so, and I'll be picking up two Nexus 4 phones for the other two lines. It is my intention to have TMo pick up the ETFs ($740 total), and I'm under the impression that it'll be doable. We'll see what they say when it becomes apparent that I'm wanting to do that and not be under contract, I suppose.

    • http://halljake.com Jake Hall

      not sure how that'll work, but I'd very interested to hear how it goes!!

      • Brian Menius

        I saw a report last week in the forum from someone who had gotten much more than what I'll be asking when they went through the same exercise with TMo. That said, it'll be a matter of discretion on the part of the district or regional manager, as I understand it.

        • http://halljake.com Jake Hall

          Interesting! Any chance you could link me to the report?

          • Brian Menius

            I just spend about an hour cruising through the last week's browser history in an attempt to find it... to no avail. :-|

            If I come across it again, I'll link it here.

          • http://halljake.com Jake Hall

            No problem, it happens.

            Thanks for the effort!

  • K-Rich

    How is T-Mobiles service in SoCal? I live about 45mins North-West of LA and plan on paying my ETF of $200 to AT&T and hopping on the $30/month T-Mobile 4G, I'm just a little nervous about reception since I don't know many people in my area that use T-Mobile.

  • fooznugget

    If you're talking Nexus 4, you should really include a comparison with T-mobile's Value plan. They give you a lower monthly rate, but don't subsidize phone purchases. It worked out for me because I had a bunch of unlocked phones already that I could use. I imagine a lot of people reading this article are in a similar boat. For 4 lines sharing 1000 minutes, unlimited text, and 2GB data on 3 of the 4 lines, I pay about $120 a month which was a huge savings compared to AT&T. If you get a t-mobile phone, you can use Wi-Fi calling which doesn't even count against your monthly minutes.

    • http://www.facebook.com/driftdeeper Guilbert Dominguez

      I'm pretty sure Wi-Fi calling does count against your monthly minutes. It just helps you receive or place calls easier.

      • fooznugget

        I believe It does if you have an individual plan, but not if you are on a family plan. I called 3 separate times just to make absolutely sure it would not count towards my minutes on my plan.

      • Cuvis

        It does by default, but you can add the ”unlimited wish calling” feature to your line for no extra charge. No, I don't know why they did it that way.

    • RyanWhitwam

      Value plans come with contracts even if you bring your phone in from outside. It's stupid, but that's how Tmo rolls.

  • Stoker

    I honestly can't believe there are families paying $200+/mo for cell phone service in this economy. This is so nuts. Data is just STUPID expensive.

    Part of me just wants to buy 3 feature phones and just carry a personal media player with WiFi hotspot capability and wait for reality to settle in. But I know it's probably just gonna get worse.

  • F_Verizon!

    Once anyone besides verizon has the speed in my area i am gone!

  • http://twitter.com/2bg2failRichRad RichRad Cardenas

    If anyone is interested in Simple mobile go to Amazon and you can get their Sim cards for cheaper, I bought two the other day for a $1.29 (this included shipping).

    I haven't seen any Straight Talk sims, but I have seen some Net10 ones for $0.95 cents with free two day shipping.

  • Rob H.

    Straight Talk is probably the best deal out there IF you want the flexibility of unlimited talk and text, AND know you don't use 2GB or more of data in a month. Using WiFi at home is not hard if you are a data heavy user. I made the switch from Sprint to ST and have not looked back.

  • Maison Pulaski

    So if I average 8GB a month on Verizon unlimited - do you think Straight Talk will give me a hard time?

    • Maison Pulaski

      I guess I will answer my own question. This is very frustrating since I asked the "associate" directly, "Does straight talk throttle data?" He answered without hesitance, "Absolutely not." Why would I have bothered believing him? I am an idiot that's why. Here it is from Straight Talks terms of service...

      "6. STRAIGHT TALK UNLIMITED TALK, TEXT AND MOBILE WEB ACCESS PLAN INTENDED USE: Straight Talk Unlimited Talk, Text and Mobile Web Access Plans may ONLY be used with a Straight Talk handset for the following purposes: (i) Person to Person Voice Calls (ii) Text and Picture Messaging (iii) Internet browsing through the Straight Talk Mobile Web Service and (iv) Authorized Content Downloads from the Straight Talk Mobile Web Store. The Straight Talk Unlimited Plans MAY NOT be used for any other purpose. Examples of prohibited uses include, without limitation, the following: (i) continuous mobile to mobile or mobile to landline voice calls; (ii) automated text or picture messaging to another mobile device or e-mail address; (iii) uploading, downloading or streaming of audio or video programming or games; (iv) server devices or host computer applications, including, but not limited to, Web camera posts or broadcasts, automatic data feeds, automated machine-to-machine connections or peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing; or (v) as a substitute or backup for private lines or dedicated data connections. This means, by way of example only, that checking email, surfing the Internet, downloading legally acquired songs, and/or visiting corporate intranets is permitted, but downloading movies using P2P file sharing services and/or redirecting television signals for viewing on laptops is prohibited. A person engaged in prohibited uses may have his/her service terminated without notice or a refund."

      So basically they generalize everything as being a possible reason to terminate your service. What a drag.

  • http://twitter.com/fueledbygin Andrew

    The biggest black mark against T-Mobile prepaid is the very awkward integration with Google Voice. Assuming you like to use Google Voice while using your mobile phone number. If you're willing to forgo your mobile number completely, and only use your Google Voice number, then it's not a big deal. T-Mobile's in-house visual voicemail also does not work with their pre-paid plans. I'm on T-Mobile now with my Galaxy Nexus and unwilling to ditch my mobile number. I really miss my visual voicemail.

    That said, the $30 plan for those of us who don't do much actual talking on our phones is definitely hard to resist (though T-Mobile has piss-poor coverage compared to ATT). Keep in mind that coverage for data plans matter. Unlike voice which freely roams on the ATT network as a T-Mobile customer, data does NOT roam.

  • JG

    I've got a few points that need clarification.....

    1.) "Of all the pre-paid carriers I've looked at, Straight Talk is one of the few that is an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) of both AT&T and T-Mobile, meaning that it has made agreements with both and can actively use each carrier's network (you choose the appropriate SIM during the checkout process)."

    When you say it has MVNO agreements with both AT&T and T-Mo, and can actively use both networks, that says to me my phone won't care whose tower it is it'll just reach out to either to get me the best signal. On this end of town I may be using T-Mob's tower, but if I head down town, I'll jump over to an AT&T tower... But the "Choose the appropriate SIM" bit suggests I have to chose between using either the AT&T or T-Mo network & if I chose AT&T, for example, the phone ignores all T-Mo towers just like it'll ignore any CDMA tower.... So which is it??? Do I get to use both networks, or do I have to chose one?

    2.) I think there may be some typos in your comparison between AT&T and T-Mo...

    "On T-Mo, you can get unlimited talk, text, and shared data for $160, and each additional line will set you back $30." Are you sure its $30 per additional line? I'm pretty sure when I was checking the T-Mo site out, it was only $5... And as for the data... You say its shared, but the pic you provided says "unlimited data".... Unless its a typo, I'm assuming then you mean all of the lines draw from the "up to 5GB high speed data included" pool, then get throttled together. As opposed to each phone being able to use 5GB of high speed data before it individually got throttled....

    "All shared plans include unlimited data and text, but you have to choose how much data you'll use every month between the lines. The more data you get, the cheaper each phone becomes (see the chart below)" If I already get unlimited data, why would I need to chose an additional data pack?

    "A little scenario, for comparison purposes: let's say you have two lines on a family plan. With T-Mobile, you'll pay $190 a month (plus taxes and fees, of course)." The closest price points are either $169.98 or $229.98... I didn't see any $190 option.

    3.) Here are a few questions I've got that were not answered (maybe outside the scope of your article)

    A,) T-Mo offers WiFi calling - where, if I understand correctly, the phone basically switches to VoIP & uses the wifi signal instead of the farther away cell tower (thus providing better signal (especially while inside) & saving battery). Will the Nexus 4 be capable of this?

    B.) Verizon & AT&T's new shared data allow you to add tablets, MiFi hotspots etc for like $10/20 more per month. If I'm not mistaken, T-Mo is the partner for the 3G N7 launch as well as the N4... So if I switch to T-Mo, could I get a 3G N7 & get it added to my family share as well (like could I get a SIM for an additional line & slip it into my N7 and never access the voice/text portion & get unlimited data on the tablet)? Or would it have to be a completely separate account?

    C.) I may be mixed up, but I seem to recall reading something that some carrier would be throttling their 4G high speed data network, but wasn't for their 3G network.... Was it T-Mo? And if so, since the N4 (& 7) are both 3G only devices (even though the 4 can get LTE like speeds)....

  • http://www.nick.pro/ Nicholas Moline

    One issue with any T-Mobile MVNOs (including Straight Talk and Net 10 if you use a T-Mobile SIM) as well as any T-Mobile pre-paid plan is you cannot setup call-forwarding at all and you cannot completely disable voicemail.

    This is important if you want to go the Google voice route, which I highly recommend. The issue is that when a call gets forwarded to you, T-Mobile voicemail will pick up (even if you disable it) and TAKE the call, unless you turn on the Call Screening feature of Google Voice.

    The problem with Call Screening, is that you have to press 1 to answer ANY call, which gets old real quick.

    Since you can't set call forwarding (particularly call-forward-busy and call-forward-no-answer) with T-Mobile pre-paid (or MVNO) accounts, you end up with a somewhat broken voicemail system.

    AT&T MVNOs and pre-paid plans do not have this limitation.

    Straight Talk (what I'm currently using) has been having really intermittent data for me lately, often times I will simply have no data at all (even though it says I have a "4G" connection). I would presume since it is not actually Straight Talk that is providing service (it is AT&T) that this would probably be a limitation on all AT&T MVNOs but I'm not sure yet.

    Go Phone's pricing is just way too high for me, considering they expect people to pay a "premium" data plan of an extra $30 a month if they have a smart phone, which I have always thought was rediculous.

  • Dan

    Just ordered a Straight Talk SIM... I use way less than 2GB of data per month but am hoping to tether randomly (once or twice a month). We'll see what happens.

  • http://twitter.com/MrYuzhai *Certified_geek™

    If T-Mobile wants to kick serious ass they should subsidize the handset and offer you the Nexus 4 for free on a new contract.

  • Freak4Dell

    Okay, maybe somebody already mentioned this in the comments, but I'm feeling lazy today, and it's important enough to be reiterated anyway.

    You left out the T-Mobile Value plan. Nobody in their right mind would get a subsidized Nexus 4 from T-Mobile and use it on a Classic plan. (Don't worry, I know that there will be a ton of idiot consumers that do exactly that). If you're going to get a post-paid T-Mobile plan, the only way worth considering is to buy the phone from Google, and get a Value plan. The unlimited talk, text, and data plan is $70 a month. Corporate discounts apply to this plan (and anyone can get a discount from studentrate.com), so you'll end up paying closer to $63 plus taxes and fees. Or, if you can live with the 2GB data plan like I can, it's $60 a month. Or, if you can live with the 200MB data plan like my dad can, it's $55 a month. The plan is customizable to your needs. Also, this plan is killer for families. Prepaid is a nice option for individuals, but there aren't very many prepaid plans out there that can give a family a run for their money. T-Mobile's Value plan can. I pay slightly over $100 for 4 lines (and that may drop here soon after I figure out some possible changes). Not everybody has data, but that's because not everybody needs data. It wouldn't cost me all that much more to add data for everybody, though. Sure, there's a 2 year contract, but I think the benefits are worth it. The prices are excellent and you get benefits that prepaid typically doesn't offer, like roaming.

    It's a real shame that you left that plan out completely. I know I sound like a T-Mobile sales rep or something, but seriously, the Value plans rock.

    • spydie

      How can you be on a 2-year contract if you don't take a subsidized phone?

      • Freak4Dell

        Yeah, I don't particularly like it either, but like I said, I think it's worth the tradeoff. T-Mobile's justification of it is that the plan is so much cheaper than any other postpaid plan. I don't think that would actually hold up in court, since the carriers told the FCC some time ago that contracts and ETFs were a way of making up for subsidies. If somebody filed a class action, T-Mobile would probably lose, but I don't really care. 2 years go by quick, and I'm halfway through. Once I'm all the way through, I won't have to sign a contract again, unless I decide to buy a phone from T-Mobile at some point, which is highly unlikely.

      • missinginput

        the 2 year contract is for subsidezed rate plan instead of subsidezed equipment

  • spydie

    The problem with that Solavei plan is that there is no company you can call to ask questions or when things go awry. I wanted to ask if there was any way I could try it with a new phone number, then if I decided it's worth my ATT ETF, later port my number over. It appears that they only give you the option to do that when you first sign up, but there must be some way to do it later, but there's no one to ask! So if you are having problems and you want to call someone and ask questions, it appears there is no one. That's a deal-breaker. Also, one gentleman here mentioned what a value T-mobile Value menu is... just for clarity, it's the same price as their regular family plan if you have two phones ($120 for unlimited talk+text and 2GB data), so the value menu doesn't save you any money at all.

    I have ATT right now and the south end of our town has poor coverage. At night when everyone is home from school/work, you can't use the phone at all. Calls get dropped every few minutes and texts won't go out and have to be resent several times, and MMS isn't even possible. And they have the one tower that is way overloaded that covers the south end of town is broken right now and no ETA for repair (it's only able to work at partial capacity and even when it's working at full capacity it can't keep up with the demand). So I've been calling and bitching but I still can't get them to drop the ETF. However, I don't have much choice. T-mobile has voice and text here, but no data (we are on the edge of "edge") and sprint has had 2 of their 3 towers "down" for over a year now. Verizon is supposed to come to town in the next 6 months, but they have to build a lot of towers before they are up and running, and they are so expensive (verizon plans, not the towers). I did get ATT to give me the unlock code for my SGS3 so I'm going to try T-mobile and see if I can get by without data and just be happy with good voice and text. If it works, I have to decide if I want to hang onto ATT and hope they get the tower fixed and/or put up more towers to handle the load or give up data and go with TMO. Or wait until next summer and move to Verizon. On top of that I have a new Note 2 pre-ordered from ATT and I'm thinking about canceling it because if I go with TMO, I'll want their note 2. Decisions, decisions. Kinda caught between a rock and a hard place.

    • Freak4Dell

      No, the Value plan with unlimited talk + text and 2GB data is $99.98, not $120. The Classic plan for the same features is $139.98. You save $960 over the 2 years.

      • spydie

        NO... the value plan with unlimited talk+text and 2gb of data is $59.99 per phone. A standard family plan that matches this is $119.99 for two phones. SOOOO... it costs the same... just like I said. Look again. Or send me the link on where to get this for two phones for $99.98

        • Freak4Dell

          Classic: http://i.imgur.com/1PBqx.jpg

          Link To Classic: http://www.t-mobile.com/shop/plans/family-plans.aspx

          Value: http://i.imgur.com/fMoUH.jpg

          Link to Value: http://www.t-mobile.com/shop/Packages/ValuePackages.aspx

          You probably just looked at the single phone price and assumed it was double for each phone.

        • capitalkid

          we have Tmobile Post Paid Everything More Plus Plan (BYO Phone and no contract required). we signed up in Sept 2010 for two lines, the two phones new from Tmobile were 100.00 total. The plan is 79.99 before tax, with tax equals $86.00 month for unlimited talk. No text no data. We don't use it. We added my dad in Sept 2011 and that brought the bill to 110.00 month before tax. Again we don't text and we don't use our cell phones as computers. Then they kicked my phone off for heavy roaming in Jan 2012 and I ported my number To Att prepaid account until I figured out what to do about the issue of service. I have tentatively decided on Verizon Post Paid Non Commitment. Again if you BYO Phone in, you can apply the phone to verizon without going on contract. Under the above listing that is what it is called, you are able to view this under the Terms and Conditions section of the verizon info page. I have verified this with 6 different online chat specialists and 1 CS Rep. Sprint will not allow Post Paid Non Commitment BYO Phone. I don't know about ATT, but TMobile will and verizon will. For those that know They aren't going to volunteer this information, and for those that don't know they have no way of differentiating other than to be informed of this option by an outside party. You will still get a credit check though, because it is Post Paid.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=779775130 Christian Hedegaard-Schou

    I would like to know more about data-only plans that exist similar to these. I've got an aging VZW Galaxy Tab that is extremely useful as a car computer. I'd like to get a new tablet at some point to replace it and I'm seriously considering GSM over an MVNO. Looking at the Straight Talk plans though, they only support "phone" plans that include texting and calls. Texting from a tablet would be nice, but I certainly don't need a call plan. Do plans such as those exist from MVNO's?

  • turb0wned

    Ummm.... Did you really forget that T-Mobile has truly unlimited data now.... Family plan for 2 lines is $120...

  • Eckless

    I used T-Mobile's $30 plan and then switched to Net10 at $45.

    T-Mobile's plan was good -- as long as I stayed in a big city with coverage. The prepaid plans have NO ROAMING PERIOD. So if you go to a city without t-mobile coverage (which, to be honest, is a lot of small and medium cities), you get no signal whatsoever. When I had coverage however, it was pretty tough to beat! The 100 minute limitation is not a biggie -- if you go over 100 minutes, the price per minute is small.

    Net10 has treated me well so far -- I went with the AT&T version of Net10. The price is $45 if you do automatic withdrawals ($50 if you don't). Service has been excellent, but I'm a little more cautious with data usage because it has caps. (But in general don't download stupid stuff and you'll be fine).

    (And why did I go with Net10 over StraightTalk since they're pretty much the same? It's because I was too impatient for StraightTalk to send me a SIM -- Net10 had SIM cards for sale at the local Best Buy.)

    Also, if you're going to start switching, getting hooked up with a single Google Voice number (and porting to it if necessary) is a MUST.

  • yippiedad

    WOW!!! I can't believe you ignored the elephant in the room: T-Mobile's Value plans. Especially for families they offer a real opportunity for saving money without being forced to pay for something you don't use. As an example they only charge $69.98 per month for two phones ($34.99 per phone) for 1000 shared minutes and 2GB of 4G data. Pay $5 more per line If you need unlimited SMS messaging (in case you don't use data based messaging like Google Voice). At $79.98 you'll be paying exactly $40 less per month than the similar Classic plan. Over two years that will save you $480 per line compared to the Classic plan. Now if you want COMPLETELY UNLIMITED 4G data THAT NO PREPAID SERVICE OFFERS just pay $10 extra per line per month. No 5GB limit here! The ONLY issue is the two years contract.

    • Rudy Belova

      I have to agree, not to mention every time i walk into a t-mobile store, they are all "pay no attention to these brochures named 'classic plan'"
      They push value a LOT more.

  • Slighter

    I'm hoping TIng byod is available when or just before my sprint dealio ends

  • https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ootpapps.saving.made.simple&feature Out of the Park Apps

    OMG no LTE? Just kidding, great phone, better price!

  • NoUsernamesFree

    $15 for the SIM alone?! Wow, you Americans really do have it bad. Most places in the UK (if not all) give it to you for free!

  • Nick Letsom

    T-Mobile has a few lesser known plans. I'm pretty addicted to truly unlimited data. They have a BYOD "Value Plans" section clumsily hidden on their site, and they offer a contract-free $69.99 unlimited everything plan with truly unlimited (no 5gb softcap or anything) HSPA+. It's what I plan on using. I even confirmed with a T-Mobile rep that there is NO limit on it.

    http://www.t-mobile.com/shop/Packages/ValuePackages.aspx?pkgcatid=simonly&line=1

  • Dan

    "Update: It has just been brought to my attention that T-Mobile actually won't provide post-paid service without a two-year contract, even if you bring your own phone. Boo on you T-Mobile!"

    Boo on you for being ridiculous. What is "post paid"? It's where you get service and then you pay for it later. That means the carrier is floating you a loan for the cost of the service until you get around to paying for it. Why in the hell should they do that if you're not going to sign up for a specific contract term?

    • Rudy Belova

      Postpaid vs. prepaid. t-mobile does it a bit differently. The new value are contract post paid plans but you pretty much pay a chuck of the phone up front plus a little each month. Your paying full retail but get discount on the phone.

      But, that aside, even when you bring your own phone. There is one thing to keep in mind. If your on a contract with t-mobile. (lets say with the unlimited data, the FULL unlimited data) and the new metroPcs-Tmobile gets rid of it, your grandfathered til at least the end of your contract vs. prepaid where they can change it asap. Kind of a guarantee of keeping what you have.

  • Scott

    When the Nexus 4 comes out I'm getting one and trying out Straight Talk's $45/month ATT plan. Hope it works out so I can port to Google Voice and use my phone the way I want to use it.

  • mrsbelpit

    Value plans are a great option on T-Mo for people who want more than one line. You really should include those on this list.

  • TK

    I'm currently a Verizon unlimited data member and was looking at the straight talk and Net 10 plans which looked good in this article. However, in each of their user agreements they prohibit downloading games or streaming media on their network. Their plans are tempting but I don't want to switch over just to get banned, especially with my unlimited data at stake. Can anyone shed some light on this? Thanks!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.ackerman1 Mike Ackerman

    So what did the author choose and why? It'd be nice to see that in the summary.

    • TylerChappell

      This ^^

  • Cuvis

    The author forgot one major argument for T-Mobile : HSPA+ 42. AFAIK, AT&T doesn't support it, and the Nexus doesn't support LTE, so you'll be stuck with 3g speeds with them. He also missed the Value plans which save BYOD customers (like people with an unlocked Nexus) about $20 a month, and the fact that T-Mo just started offering unlimited data again. As long as they have good coverage in your area, it's hard to argue against them for a Nexus.

  • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

    Tip: I noticed that StraightTalk has a promo code to get $10 back. The code is 'SIMSAVE'. I tested it in the shopping cart page and it works.

    Also, it looks like the cost of the SIM card is only $9.99, not $14.99. The first page shows it at the higher price, but once you continue down the path and get to select a SIM card to put into the cart, all of the options cost $9.99.

    Those two things combined will clear out the initial cost of the SIM card.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jtbrown3 J.T. Brown III

    I just configured the unlimited Straight Talk plan (with an AT&T
    compatible SIM card) on a Nexus 4 using Google Voice. At first there
    was an issue configuring the ST service to use 'conditional call
    forwarding' (which is needed for effective Google Voice integration) and
    none of the normal dial setup codes (like *004*...#) worked.

    Finally, I was able to enable and configure the proper call
    forwarding ONLY by going to the 'settings' page of the built in Nexus 4
    phone dialer, selecting 'Call Forwarding' (under 'Other Call Settings'),
    and then manually enabling the three individual sub-settings for
    'Forward when busy', 'Forward when unanswered', and 'Forward when
    unreachable' - and it's imperative to enter a '+1' prefix before any
    10-digit US phone number.

    After the above setup, Straight Talk worked like a charm with GV on my Nexus 4 and sesulted in a svings of over $50 per month!

    I hope this helps anyone else struggling to setup 'conditional call forwarding' using Straight Talk on a Nexus (Galaxy Nexus or Nexus 4).

  • heidio

    Just a note about your straight talk map, I'm almost 100% sure that the map you are showing is accurate only for NON android phones. That's a big deal, the map for android coverage is much much smaller. I think you can find them side by side if you search, I've seen them side by side, I just don't remember where, perhaps androidcentral or androidandme websites.

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

      There is absolutely no real reason why Android phones wouldn't have the same coverage as any other platform (currently). I forget where I saw it, but I'm pretty sure I've seen the map you're talking about. The map I saw was actually representing the difference between voice coverage and data coverage, but labeling the voice coverage as "non-Android" and the data coverage as "Android" coverage. I'm pretty sure that's what you've seen.

      Most coverage maps are a catastrophe. They don't represent anything approximating real coverage or performance. Those maps are just bad marketing material. Different MVNOs don't even have matching maps for the same carrier.

  • Frammus

    I wouldn't unless you're moving to an IPhone 5. Android OEM's still can't figure out how to make a smartphone that provides a decent experience and Google can't figure out a way to stop breaking things from release to release to release. Dealing with anything Android seems to be a constant battle and is tedious at best. Everything is made more difficult than need be and the OEM's try to do their best to make it better (can you say "motoblur" and HTC Sense for example) but the experiences are too fragmented, the app's not as elegant as on IPhone and updates are not tested enough and wind up breaking things (echo on nexus 7 / 4 for example and bluetooth). For these reasons though Google may have lots of Android out there through not fault of their own it's my guess that either Blackberry (if they can fund their comeback) and or Microsoft (very iffy since they still think they are the center of your universe) will win the battle for third place and then second place over time.

    • someone755

      Lol, according to most, we love what El Goog does with AOSP. Motoblur and Sense, in my opinion (and many other 'purists') only destroy the experience.

  • Steven Robledo

    Out of all the ones you listed I totally dig Solavei. I've had them for over a year and haven't payed for mobile service since. Their rewards program is kind of like Sprint's "Framly Plan" (where you get $5 per referral) but without the limit on the amount of people you can refer. Which means that you can refer enough people to earn free mobile service and anyone you refer beyond that generates profit that they send to you via a Solavei Visa Card they give you for free when you sign up as a member.

    You guys should seriously consider switching to Solavei, check it out:
    http://www.JoinFreeWireless.com/

    -Steven
    Contact: 951-220-1851