On Monday, Verizon released their new Unlimited service and when we put up an article about it, you had a lot to say! Naturally, being in the midst of the "phone wars" as I've called it previously, I received word from T-Mobile and Sprint that they already had plans on the books that bettered Big Red's offer and were going to go even further to sweeten their own deals, which begs the question, is Verizon's new plan really the best deal out there? That's what many may ask, but I think the best question is, is Verizon's new plan the best deal FOR YOU?
We'll start by looking at the chart below. This comes to me, compliments of T-Mobile, but I'll give you a bit more insight on which columns don't tell the whole story and where Verizon bests T-Mobile. I'll tell you up front that all companies throttle, even on "unlimited" plans but unlike days of old, T-Mo won't start throttling until you've hit 28GB of data, Verizon at 22GB. Not bad. Not truly unlimited, but for the large portion of users, that should work out fine. Back to the chart. If you clicked over from the Facebook app on your mobile, see the chart here.
Now, T-Mobile is pretty spot on regarding their comparisons except for two areas: international data and video streaming. The "Data (rest of the world)" column, Verizon is the clear winner here, though this is subjective. Kind of. If you're out of the country and don't need data, it's fine, but if you still want to be able to interact with your friends on social media while abroad, you will pull your hair out trying to do so at 2G speeds. In my opinion, it's worth it to pay VZW's $10/day fee for international LTE. That brings us to the "Video Quality" column. T-Mobile will now stream unlimited video at a minimum 720p as opposed to the YouTube quality 480p it was streaming unlimited video at, on its Binge On plans. Verizon on the other hand streams at 4k+. The average consumer really won't be able to tell the difference between 720p and 4k+ on a smartphone, so whether that difference in video quality is important to you is a purely subjective thing. I can definitely tell the difference between a 720p display and QHD display on a mobile device, but when we get into video streams, it really will vary from user to user. That said, on paper, Verizon wins that column.
It should be noted that for you to experience HD video on T-Mobile's unlimited plan, you'll have to go in and manually turn the feature on from the web. Once on, the feature will remain active for the life of the plan. If you don't turn the feature on manually, you'll just receive the 480p streams of the previous Binge On feature.
But, "what about Sprint," you say? Not to be outdone by Verizon and T-Mobile announcing new items, Sprint is offering a limited time unlimited version of the plan it first announced in 2016. For four lines, you were paying $160 on Sprint's Unlimited Freedom plan. That still doesn't include HD video, as the Unlimited Freedom plan optimizes video, gaming and music. The new offer will get you up to five lines now for only $90, but that plan only lasts until March of 2018. After that time, the plan reverts to the original plan cost of $60 for the first line (an additional $10), the second remains $40, and the third through fifth lines will all cost you $30 per line. Everything outlined in this bit about Sprint's offering will require you to enroll in AutoPay, so keep that in mind.
If you're trying to figure out which network is best, given these new rate plans, I'll tell you, it's the one which gives you the best connection in the areas you frequent most. From my own personal and anecdotal experience, Verizon has given me and family members who travel domestically the widest coverage. Even in my daily travels through Los Angeles, there are some canyon areas I don't get service with T-Mobile (my personal carrier), and do get service with Verizon. That said, T-Mobile has improved by leaps and bounds in the last few years and between their phone selection and what I pay for my four lines as a business account, I don't see myself leaving them until all my children are paying for their own lines. At that time, I may consider giving Verizon a try to see if I like them more.
Not to be outdone, AT&T has announced changes to their unlimited plan. The old plan required you to be a DirecTV or U-verse subscriber but they've removed that hurdle and made the plan available to all AT&T wireless customers. That's 4 lines for $180, unlimited calls to Canada and Mexico, and a Stream Saver feature which allows customers to save data by streaming HD video at SD quality. If you're a super-heavy data user and will exceed their 22GB data cap, you can use the Stream Saver feature to minimize your data use. Pricing doesn't include taxes.
*Story has been updated to include AT&T's new plan updates.