Smartphone plans have been steadily changing in the past few years, and this month Verizon shook up their plans. So we'll be comparing their new plans - where they've gotten rid of contracts altogether - and see how they compare to the best from the other three carriers.
Verizon decided to change up their plans this month, starting on August 13th, 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, and Extra Large. The small data bucket is 1GB for $30, medium at 3GB for $45, Large is 6GB at $60, and extra large is 12GB for $80 month.
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.
AT&T's plans haven't really changed recently. But for 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 recently came up with their All-In plan, and using David Beckham to promote the 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.
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's individual plans are pretty straight forward. 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.
As always, it's important to check out the coverage for these carriers where you live and work. What use is saving a few bucks if you can't actually use your phone? A good tool that is pretty much unbiased, for finding coverage is Sensorly.com, and they work outside of the US as well.