The Best Unlimited Smart Phone Plans
Smartphones offer users unparalleled connectivity, combining calling, texting, email and more, in one handheld device. They also come with a premium price tag, as many service providers attach a monthly fee, solely for smartphone users. That is on top of the regular monthly service fees associated with owning any type of mobile phone. Unlimited smartphone plans offer users the ability to get online and make as many calls as needed without worrying about overage fees. Every service provider packages their unlimited plans slightly differently, so below is a brief outline of what the major providers offer and how much you can expect to pay.
Pros and Cons of Unlimited Smartphone Plans
- Sprint's Unlimited, My Way - This new package offered by Sprint combines a flexible payment structure on data with unlimited talk and text. The monthly service fee for unlimited talk and text is $50 for the first line, $40 for the second, $30 for the third line and only $20 for every line between four and ten. Unlimited data costs $30 per month, per line. That makes the total cost $80 for a single user per month before the addition of surcharges, taxes and fees. As part of a new line of service, Sprint includes several free smartphone options, including the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S III. While using the Sprint network to access data, users are guaranteed the fastest Internet available, with no limits or slowdowns.
- Verizon's Share Everything - Arguably the most expensive cell phone service provider, Verizon also offers the most complete coverage, helping users stay connected even in the most rural areas. Their current pricing structure does not offer a truly unlimited plan. Instead, they offer unlimited talk and text for $40 per line, then a shared data pool. The data pool can cost as little as $20 for 250MB, or it can cost as much as $375 for 50GB. Typical usage per device falls somewhere between 1 and 2GB monthly. The charge for that level of service is $50 or $60 per month. One great feature to this new pricing is the ability to connect using different devices for the same monthly service charge. For example, those who own both a tablet and smartphone will enjoy sharing their data pool between the devices. With 4GB available at $70 per month, that could offer considerable savings to those who connect with multiple devices. Verizon also offers free smartphones with a new service contract.
- T-Mobile Simple Choice - Innovative pricing has allowed T-Mobile to offer one of the least expensive unlimited plans on the market. For $70 per month, users enjoy no-contract service that includes unlimited talk, text and data on one of the nation's largest networks. The downside is that no phone is included with the service. Users can obtain a phone through T-Mobile at no upfront cost, but they pay a monthly fee toward the cost of the phone over 24 months. Essentially, there is no contract if you bring your own phone, but your bill goes up by $22 per month (the most common price for smartphones) if you buy from T-Mobile. Also, you are under contract until the phone is paid off. If you have your own phone, T-Mobile is very reasonably priced, at least until you need a new one.
- AT&T Mobile Share Value - Combining the payment plans offered by both Verizon and T-Mobile, AT&T has found a way to offer very reasonable service terms to those who frequently upgrade their phones. For only $15 per month, per line, users enjoy unlimited talk and text when they sign up for monthly data plans of at least 10GB. This works out to $130 per month for two lines of service. Of course, to get that incredible price, users must sign up for the AT&T Next plan, which charges a monthly fee for each phone. At the end of 12 or 18 months (depending on which you choose), users are eligible for an upgrade.
- Boost Mobile $55 Monthly Unlimited - This plan is exactly as advertised. For $55 per month, per line, users enjoy unlimited talk, text and data with no contract. After the first 2.5GB of data usage each month, speeds slow to 3G, but most users only need 2GB of monthly data. No phone is included, so the upfront cost of buying a smartphone is on the user, which can add $500 or more to the annual cost of the plan. Boost also offers shrinking payments based on a good payment history. At the 18-month mark, if all payments were made on time, the monthly cost goes down to $40 per phone.
For a combination of low upfront cost, actual unlimited data service and reasonable pricing, Sprint tops the list. Limited coverage areas may make choppy in certain areas, so be sure to shop around and ask friends and family about their provider's level of service.