Let's face it, wireless plans are confusing. If you're looking for just one line they are pretty confusing. But if you're looking for a family plan it's even worse. Good thing Android Headlines is here to cut through all the marketing terms and show you which carrier gives you the best bang for your buck. Now keep in mind that these prices should be only part of the reason why you choose a carrier. The other is their coverage. A carrier might have fantastic coverage with high prices, or terrible coverage with amazing prices. So you definitely need to take coverage into account when you make your decision.
Just to keep things fair, we are going to go over 2 and 4 line plans. With data at 5 and 10GB, or the closest possible to that, as not all of the plans are the same, data-wise.
AT&T hasn't really changed up their family plans for a while. But you are basically paying $25 per phone you buy on AT&T Next, and $40 per phone on contract. If your plan is over 10GB, then the AT&T Next phones drop to $15 per month. You also have to pay for your data, which is shared across all the lines. So for a 2 line plan with 6GB of data on AT&T Next, it would be about $120. For two lines on contract phones, it's going to be $140. For four lines on AT&T Next with 10GB of data that's about $160, and on contract, that's $220.
Now it's important to remember, that while AT&T Next looks cheaper, you are also paying for that phone each month. Some phones can cost you upwards of $35 per month for each phone. Of course, that all depends on the phone you're buying. So it does get expensive pretty quick.
Sprint has many, many options. First, let's look at the prices for the phones. With their 24 month lease, you can be paying around $20 per month per phone. With their Easy Pay, it can be around $30 per month per phone. Or you can just grab it on contract. With the lease and Easy Pay, theres 24 payments and $0 down for "well qualified buyers". Now lets keep those numbers in mind as we move to the actual plan price.
Here we priced out a 4GB plan with two Samsung Galaxy S6's, which on their lease, would come to $130 per month. That's $90 for the data and $20 for each device. With four lines, it's $150, with $90 for the data, and $15 for each device you add. The promotional plan that Sprint is doing though, is 20GB for $100, which can be up to 5 lines, and the devices will be $15 each to add. So if you were to do a 5-line 20GB plan, it'd cost you $175. Which actually isn't too bad.
Magenta's plans are a bit different than everyone else's. As they don't do data pools for all the lines, but rather each line gets their own cap. So we're doing the 3GB plan for each line. So at 2 lines with 6GB of data, that's $100 per month. However, right now T-Mobile is doing a special promo where you can get unlimited data and 7GB of mobile hotspot for two lines for $100 a month. Obviously that's the much better deal. Now for four lines with 2.5GB each (that's 10GB for four lines which meets our criteria) that is also $100 per month. One of the nicer things about T-Mobile is that you can change which line gets which data bucket. So one could have unlimited, one could be 2.5GB, etc.
Those numbers above are just for service. Since T-Mobile does financing for their devices you're going to be paying anywhere from $5 per device up to around $30. For example, the Galaxy S6 Edge is $32.46, so if all four lines got Galaxy S6 Edge's That's be $130 on top of the $100 for the plan. Gets pricey real quick when you pick out your phones.
Verizon's plans are actually some of the easier to understand, sorta. Like AT&T, they charge you a $25 per Verizon EDGE device access fee if the data is 4GB and under. Over 6GB and it drops to $15. If you're on a contract it's $40. Now their 4GB plan is $60. So you can get two devices on EDGE for $110. However that is BEFORE you price your device. The Droid Turbo for example would be an extra $20 for each line on top of that. Making it $150, but that all depends on what devices you use. If you buy your phones on contract it's going to be a straight up $140.
Now for four lines and 10GB of data that's going to be $140 on EDGE with your phone payments being put on top. We'll use the Droid Turbo again as an example, that bumps the price to $220. While on contract the price would be about $240.
Family plans are still super confusing. We did our best to try and decipher all the marketing terms here and let everyone know which is the better priced plans, but for the most part they are all priced pretty much the same. So again, it's all up to the coverage of where you live, work and if you travel, where you travel too. While T-Mobile has the most flexibility in their family plans, Verizon or AT&T might be a better fit because of their coverage.