just one more geek in a sea of austin techies

June 12, 2017

Finally... an accurate cellular plan review #PhoneGeek

I've spent more time than I care to admit analyzing cellular services. Today I finally read a "Best Low, Medium & High Cellular Plans" article that I actually agree with.  Normally such articles focus only on the "big four" US carries and so overlook too many alternative carriers and plans.  For instance, my wife's phone service is from Republic Wireless while mine is from Google Fi.  I'll forgive you if these options don't sound familiar -- you can read more about them in my previous posts here and here. My son's *free* plan (yes -- it's really free) is on FreedomPop which you can read about here.

Yes, you read that previous paragraph right: our family uses three different cellular plans from three different carriers.  The end result is we spend a total of about $50 a month for cellular service.  Refer back to, "I've spent more time than I care to admit analyzing cellular services..."

Getting back to the point, though:  the article I read did a fine job boiling down current cellular plan offerings to the best "low-medium-high" options.  Read on to see the results...

Time and Money
Time's online "Money" section features an article titled, "The Best Cell Phone Plans of 2017" by Megan Leonhardt and Kaitlin Mulhere.  I confess I typically read such articles for the thrill of picking them apart over omissions and outright errors but, alas, this article was spot-on.  Good job, Megan and Kaitlin.  Using the very complete list of US cellular providers from, the authors compared relative plan costs to come up with the most affordable plans for low, medium, and high cellular data users.  Note that only plans with unlimited talk and texts were considered.

Who were the winners?  
For lower data users, the pick was Republic Wireless -- the service my wife uses!  The article mentions this as a $30-per-month plan.  My wife's monthly bill averages a paltry $17 because she signed on when more competitive plans were available.  Pro tip: I've been blogging about Republic Wireless since 2012. Subscribe to my blog to get clued in sooner on these kinds of things.

Medium data users should look at the AT&T GoPhone 6GB plan.  To be fair, 6GB is well above today's "meduim" usage (around 3 to 4 GB) but the article points out that the $45 monthly cost is 20% less than some 4GB plans so... why not?

High data users should consider the unlimited T-Mobile One plan at $75 a month.  It isn't the cheapest but it includes a host of goodies to make it notable -- things like 4G speeds up to 30GB, unlimited 3G hot-spot capability, Gogo WiFi time for airline travel, and great coverage area for 4G data speeds.  If price is paramount, Boost Mobile is cited as the least expensive unlimited plan at $50 per month.

If I have to find something to be picky about...
Why propose the 6GB AT&T plan at $45 for "medium users" if the Boost Mobile Unlimited plan is only $50?  I mean, if you're already recommending the $75 T-Mobile Unlimited plan over the $50 Boost Unlimited plan....

Hey, ATXGeek -- what about Google Fi and FreedomPop?
I mentioned before that only plans with unlimited talk and text were considered.  The "free" FreedomPop plan is definitely a very limited plan.  These limits are actually a good match for my son who is at the start of his cell phone experience. Read why such limits may be a good thing here.

As for Google Fi, the service is mentioned near the end of the article.  Since Google Fi is offered (currently) on just four phone models, it was considered too "niche" for the overall comparison.  However, the authors pointed out that the service reimburses customers for unused data (true!) and that the service could be a good fit for urban dwellers and international travelers (also true!)

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