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Featured: Best Smartphone Plans in the US – Sept. 2015

September 10, 2015 - Written By Alexander Maxham

Times change, and so does your phone plan at your favorite carrier. As these four wireless carriers start to compete a bit more, for customers, plans are changing and for the most part are getting more confusing. Allow us to break them down and tell you what’s what.

AT&T

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AT&T’s plans haven’t changed much in recent years. But you can either get a contract or use AT&T Next to upgrade sooner. Those that want to stick to a contract, that’s $40 per month to access the data, which we’ll use their 3GB plan again. That’s another $40. So for one line on a contract, that’s $80 before taxes. On AT&T Next, it’s going to be a $25 access fee. Which means for 3GB of data that’s $65, before AT&T Next fees come in. Which again can be as high as $35.

Sprint

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Sprint recently came up with their All-In plan, and using David Beckham (Sprint’s CEO is a big fan of Beckham) to promote the new plan. Which is currently available for most flagship smartphones that Sprint offers. For $80/month you can get unlimited talk, text and data along with that new smartphone. Keep in mind that this is a lease, however. So when it’s time to upgrade, you’ll need to turn that phone in.

Now if you choose to do Easy Pay, you are paying around $30, on top of the $60 for unlimited everything. Still not a bad deal when you compare it to Verizon and AT&T. But it is a bit confusing with the many, many options here. For example, a  HTC One M9 on 24 Month Easy Pay would cost you about $87 before taxes and fees.

T-Mobile

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With magenta, their plans are pretty easy to learn and not too confusing, compared to the competition. You can get unlimited talk and text with 1GB of LTE data (throttled after) for $50. Or 3GB for $60, 5GB for $70 or truly unlimited for $80 per month. Much like the others here, you also are going to be paying separately for your phone. Depending on what phone you get, that can be an extra $30-35 per month. So for the 3GB plan (as that’s the example we used in the Verizon and AT&T sections) that would cost you about $90 before taxes.

With these postpaid plans, you also get all kinds of other perks that T-Mobile have. Including Mobile Without Borders, Music Freedom and many more. These are not available on their prepaid plans. T-Mobile also just announced a new Coverage guarantee. Basically saying that you will love their network, or your money back. A pretty strong claim from T-Mobile, and definitely something everyone should take them up on.

Verizon

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Verizon recently decided to change up their plans and get rid of contracts. Also moving to just five data plans. Now contracts are gone and so are subsidies. Basically, you’re going to either be paying full price for your phone upfront, or paying it off every month over the course of two years. Verizon has kept the fee for each device to use your data pool. Smartphones will cost $20, while tablets, jetpacks and other devices will cost you $10 per month. On top of that, Verizon has changed their data plans to Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large, and Extra Extra Large. The small data bucket is 1GB for $30, medium at 3GB for $45, Large is 6GB at $60, extra large is 12GB for $80, and the new XXL plan is 18GB of data for $100 per month. The new XXL plan was announced on September 9th.

So just some simple math here. Most flagships are going to run you about $20-30 per month to pay for the actual phone. So if we pick up the medium data plan, that’s going to be around $85-95 per month. And actually that’s really comparable to what T-Mobile offers.

Final Thoughts

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Like we do every month. It’s important to mention that you should check your coverage of where you live before choosing a carrier. Some carriers have bad or no coverage in some parts of the US. And you’d hate to be paying for service that you can’t use. A good tool for this is Sensorly. They have unbiased maps – unbiased because the carriers aren’t creating the maps – and have worked really well in our experience.