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Best Prepaid Wireless Options for Your Nexus 5

With no sign of a Nexus device ever showing up on Verizon’s network again, we’ve heard from a number of you during the whole Nexus 5 lead-up, who claim to be leaving Big Red behind for prepaid pastures. Now that the phone is official, we’ve also heard from a number of you who are looking for advice or at least information on a few of the most popular prepaid networks. Over the last year, I have actually tested out a few of them, so hopefully with this post, I can help shed some light on what could be an intimidating new arena for many of you. 

What is Prepaid?

Before we get into your options, it’s probably best to give you a little explanation of what prepaid is. Think of prepaid as no-contract, mostly no-nonsense wireless service. Each prepaid carrier has its own quirks, but for the most part, you pay on day 1 for a month of service, and then get to decide after that month ends if you want to pay for another month or walk away. There are no contracts in prepaid. You pay up front for whatever amount of service you are looking for. And that’s the beauty, as you aren’t locked in for more than (usually) a month at a time.

There are prepaid plans through your typical carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, etc.) and then there are MVNO providers, which are essentially companies who have made deals with big carriers to use their network. So someone like Straight Talk has made a deal with AT&T to offer prepaid service over AT&T’s growing network. There is nothing wrong with an MVNO, but they typically don’t have the same level of customer service or support as a traditional carrier might. If you like a hands-off approach to your wireless service, then that shouldn’t be an issue.

With typical wireless service that you may be used to, you are paying for what the industry calls “post paid” service. Post paid essentially means that you have signed a contract for a set number of months or years.


Chances are that many of you are switching over to prepaid because you are buying the Nexus 5. But should you not want the Nexus 5 yet still want to leave your current carrier, you need to start focusing in on phones and which carrier’s networks they are compatible with. Your best (easiest to find) resource, as odd as this sounds, is to hit up Wikipedia for reference. If you want U.S. cellular frequencies for all carriers hit up this reference. If you want a list of U.S. LTE bands hit up this reference. When you buy an unlocked phone, the listing should tell you which frequencies the phone works with. Match it up to those two links I just showed you and you’ll know which prepaid services you’ll be able to go with.

The Nexus 5 works with almost everyone’s network outside of Verizon’s. You’ll get service on T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint, with 4G LTE on all of them. To see all of the wireless bands it works on, hit up our Nexus 5 specs page.

I know that’s the most bare bones instructions for picking out unlocked phones, but it’s probably a subject worthy of its own post.

All clear?

T-Mobile Prepaid

If you are looking for a prepaid plan from one of the big carriers, look no further than T-Mobile’s plans. For one, almost all of their plans are now almost technically prepaid. They let you sign-up for service without a contract at some of the most reasonable prices you’ll find in the industry. They have essentially pulled the subsidy cost of phones out of their plans, leaving them below almost any other carrier. When you sign-up for T-Mo service, you don’t choose between contract or prepaid plans, it’s really just all mostly prepaid (at least in style).

But what I think makes them so attractive, is that they don’t do overages or try to limit your data consumption as much as carriers like Verizon or AT&T. With T-Mobile, you get unlimited data with all of their plans, but then they limit you on how much data can be used at full 4G speeds in a billing cycle. So depending on the plan you go with, you’ll only be given so much high-speed data access. After you hit your limit, you are dropped to 2G speeds for the rest of your billing cycle. At the start of the next cycle, you jump back up to 4G speeds.

tmobile prepaid

So T-Mo has plans ranging (listed above) from $30 up to $70 per month, with varying amounts of high-speed data. At $70 for their top tier plan, you get unlimited talk, text, and 4G speed data. Verizon doesn’t come anywhere close to an offer like that. If you don’t need that much 4G speed data, they have plans at 2.5GB and 500MB that drop by $10 increments, if unlimited talk and text is still important to you.

But if unlimited talk isn’t something you care about, there is one plan that T-Mobile offers that should get everyone’s attention – the $30 plan. Even if you just want to test the waters to see if T-Mobile service will work for you, this is one to consider. For $30 per month, you get unlimited text and data (with a full 5GB at full 4G speed). The only downside is the limited 100 minutes of talk per month. With that said, for many of you who are considering a move from another carrier, but maybe want to test out T-Mobile’s service, this is a great option.

Oh, this $30 plan also doesn’t play nice with Google Voice initially. For whatever reason, Google Voice and T-Mobile prepaid aren’t friends, so in order to get your GV voicemail working, you need to call T-Mobile and have them shut off the voicemail on your T-Mobile line. Once that happens and marinates for a few hours, all should be well again.

T-Mobile prepaid plans work with their 4G LTE network. Should you run into service issues at any time, you’ll also get T-Mobile support, rather than the hit-or-miss support you can run into from an MVNO.

More info at T-Mobile’s site.

Aio Wireless

Aio Wireless is AT&T’s official prepaid partner. They offer three different plans, all of which can connect to AT&T’s 4G LTE network. Like T-Mobile’s plans, all of them offer unlimited talk, text, and data, yet they cap your full 4G speeds at certain data amounts depending on the plan. They offer 250MB ($40), 2GB ($55), and 7GB ($70) full 4G speed plans, but will then throttle you for a billing cycle once you hit those amounts.

The biggest problem with Aio has to do with a speed cap before you ever get to those pre-set data amounts. Aio is completely up front about this, but you should understand that they limit the LTE download speeds on their plans to 8Mbps. If you are coming from another carrier and saw 15Mbps and above, this could come as a shock. Granted, 8Mbps is still plenty fast, but it’s not exactly breaking records or impressing anyone. So you are throttled to 8Mbps to begin with, for say your first 2GB if you choose their $55 plan, and then throttled more heavily once you hit 2GB in a month.

I’ve been using Aio for a few months now and haven’t really been bothered by the 8Mbps limit, but some of you may.

aio wireless plans

One thing to keep in mind with Aio, is the fact that it may not be around much longer. AT&T just introduced them, but there are reports already suggesting they may shut the service down if their Leap Wireless acquisition is successful. If you do sign-up for service with them, this move won’t really affect you all that much, you’ll just have to find a new prepaid carrier should that happen. But there are plenty, so I can’t imagine you’ll complain all that much.

In the end, Aio Wireless has been a solid player for me, plus you should feel a little more secure about service with them knowing that AT&T is actually in control and they aren’t just another MVNO. They also get to use AT&T’s massive network, which most would argue is right behind Verizon in terms of reliability and far ahead of T-Mobile.

More info at the Aio Wireless site.

Straight Talk

If you aren’t willing to give T-Mobile’s network a chance and expect Aio Wireless to fold at any moment, Straight Talk is probably going to be the service you look to. Now that Straight Talk connects to AT&T’s growing 4G LTE network, there really aren’t many better options than this. For $45, you get unlimited talk, text, and data without a contract at up to 2.5GB of full 4G speed per month. Once you hit that cap, you’ll be throttled – likely down to 2G speeds for the rest of the billing cycle. And that’s pretty much Straight Talk. You have one plan choice (for the most part) at a price that no one else can beat.

Now, there are all sorts of horror stories out there that include Straight Talk, but that’s probably because it’s also one of (if not the) biggest prepaid options in the entire U.S. In my testing I haven’t run into issues, plus I also saw much faster speeds than I did with Aio and its capped 8Mbps download limit. Now that a representative from the company has also given us an idea as to when they throttle you, the service should be on your short list.

straight talk prepaid

As I mentioned above, I’ve been dedicated to Aio for some time, but will likely cancel that line and switch over to Straight Talk now that my testing of all these prepaid services is over with. The value is incredible at $45 per month and without the unusually-throttled speeds that Aio slaps you with.

More info at the Straight Talk site.

Target Brightspot

A month or so ago, T-Mobile and Target teamed up to announce a new prepaid service called Brightspot. It was an odd move for T-Mobile since their plans are now technically prepaid, but when you look at the plans compared to T-Mo’s it makes sense. This is there way to get additional customers in price points and plan options that they don’t currently offer. For example, you can get unlimited talk, text, and data (1GB full 4G speed) with Brightspot for $50, when $50 at T-Mobile would only get you 500MB of full 4G speed data. Then with Brightspot, you can get unlimited talk, text, and data (4GB full 4G speed) for $65, whereas T-Mo has two plans surrounding that at $60 (2.5GB 4G speed data) and $70 (unlimited 4G speed data).

So if you didn’t quite want to pony up $70 per month for full unlimited 4G data at T-Mobile, you can pay $5 less through Brightspot and still get up to 4GB of full 4G speed data.

brightspot tmobile prepaid

I haven’t tested Brightspot, but would imagine it’s no different in service than what T-Mobile offers directly. You should see access to their LTE network. Oh, and if you are a big Target customer, the $25 Target gift card that you receive every 6 months for sticking with the service is a nice perk.

More info at Target’s site.


There is a pretty good chance you have never heard of Solavei. It’s an MVNO that attaches to T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network (no LTE yet), offering you unlimited talk, text, and data (4GB high-speed) for $49. It has received some play over the last couple of years, mostly as the new scam affiliate program for internet get-rich-quick con artists. You see, with Solavei, they have a tiered referral program that can net you thousands of dollars per month assuming you can refer friends and family, or setup shop on the internet as an SEO expert with your referral link for all to click. It can be shady, that’s for sure if used with an affiliate mindset. And I wouldn’t doubt it if you have seen some of these affiliate a-holes spamming up our comments with their Solavei links.

But in terms of service for $49, I had no problems in the four or five months I used it outside of T-Mobile’s coverage. When the Nexus 4 dropped late last year, I went with Solavei because it was super cheap and no one at the time was doing LTE with prepaid. It uses T-Mobile towers at HSPA+ speeds (which are plenty fast) and again, is only $49. At the time I signed up, it was a steal of deal, but now that almost all other prepaid plans offer LTE and Solavei still doesn’t, it probably shouldn’t be on your list. Unless of course, you plan to hawk your referral link to pay for you service.

solavei wireless

More info at the Solavei site (NOT a referral link).


As our long-time friend Taylor Wimberly has pointed out in the comments, MetroPCS is another option for those of you who are good with T-Mobile service. They offer identical plans to T-Mobile, but are $10 cheaper on each level. So you can go $40 for 500MB of 4G data, $50 for 2.5GB of 4G data, or $60 for unlimited 4G data. MetroPCS plans also can access T-Mobile’s quickly growing 4G LTE network.

I have not personally used their service, though it appears to be a great option.

Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 11.48.22 AM

More info at the MetroPCS site.

No Verizon

So you probably noticed that we didn’t mention a prepaid service that works on either Verizon’s network and there is a reason for that. Verizon does offer prepaid plans, but they don’t currently work with their 4G LTE network, so I wouldn’t want you to even consider them. Also, unlocked phones won’t work with them either (including the Nexus 5), since Verizon operates their 3G over a CDMA network that is all sorts of locked down. In the end, if you want to go the prepaid route, expect to switch over to T-Mobile or AT&T.

Speed Tests

Note – I was able to capture a set of speed tests from three of the prepaid services I tested – T-Mobile, Aio, and Straight Talk. You’ll notice immediately in the T-Mobile screenshot that the speeds are terrible. I can’t actually say why that is, other than connectivity in Portland isn’t great or there is something up with the app testing with T-Mobile’s network. I’d say it’s the latter. I used to experience a Speed Test issue with unlocked phones, though that was usually with phones running on AT&T’s network. On all of the tests I ran (which you can see in the screenshot), the speeds jumped up initially into the 20Mbps range, but fell off towards the end leaving it with unimpressive results. The same thing happened when I ran a test on just HSPA+ as well. So don’t necessarily take that to mean T-Mobile prepaid speeds are terrible. It could just be the way the app reacts to T-Mobile’s network. Your speeds should be just fine in everyday use.

In the other shots, you’ll see the Aio 8Mbps download cap was definitely in effect, while Straight Talk managed a much more respectable 24Mbps download speed.

prepaid speedtests

Other Notes

  • Phone number transferring:  If you are going from Verizon to a prepaid plan and want to take your number with you, you should be able to during the sign-up process with your prepaid plan of choice. They almost all ask you if you want to bring your phone number with you. Keep in mind that once you tell them to bring your phone number over, it should cancel your service with your current carrier.
  • Google Voice:  As you all know, I’m a huge Google Voice fan. If you plan on testing multiple prepaid carriers, you may want to think about porting your number over to Voice now, so that signing up only means attaching your new numbers from each carrier to a Google Voice number that all of your friends should already have. Just keep in mind that Google Voice still cannot receive MMS messages (picture messages) and will be folded into Hangouts soon enough. Also, the Hangouts boss has already said that once that happens, you’ll get to keep your Google Voice number.
  • Activation:  With most prepaid services, all you need to do is order a SIM card through the prepaid carrier of choice, wait for it to arrive, and then follow the instructions on how to get it setup and activated. That process usually involves entering in the IMEI from your unlocked phone, then inserting your SIM into the phone, and following along online with an activation sequence. It typically only takes a few minutes.
  • Billing:  Since there are no contracts involved in prepaid service, you can decide if you want to manually pay each month or setup an auto-pay. I tend to keep it on manual in case I don’t want to deal with re-upping the service at the end of the month.


Lots of options, right? For me, the prepaid game boils down to a couple of things – how much full 4G speed data you get per month, whether or not that includes 4G LTE, and whose service I trust the most. Almost all of the options I listed above are affordable and offer LTE, so for me personally, it came down to the network I trusted the most. While I love what T-Mobile is doing to shake up the wireless industry, their network didn’t hold up as well for me over the last year. I used a T-Mobile MVNO for months and often ran into areas without connectivity here in Portland, a major U.S. city. I’ve moved my prepaid game over to AT&T because their network is 2nd (in my book) to Verizon in terms of coverage, plus they have LTE in almost as many places.

For you that many be different, which is why that $30 T-Mo plan is so damn interesting. If I were just getting into prepaid, I’d most definitely give that T-Mobile plan a shot for a month to see how coverage was in my most often visited areas. If it doesn’t keep you satisfied, start looking at Straight Talk.

And last, I know there are probably more prepaid options out there, but these are the big dogs, many of which I have tested for a few months at a time. Hope that all helps.

  • mcdonsco

    With straight talk, what phones could you use to ensure you are on verizons network? Could you get an unlocked Dev edition sg4 and use it to get vzw network on straight talk?

    Also, once you hit 2.5gb and they begin throttling, what is the throttled speed? Is it bareable? Can you still WiFi tether from it for a laptop/tablet and have decent web surfing speed?

  • Erik Henderson

    Getting 10-60Mbps on a 30$ a month T Mobile and very happy.

  • Derek-Jojen Cummings

    30$ t-mobile ftw cant beat 5 gb’s lte for 1/2 the price of the scam AT&T, and after the 5 gb’s it still works and doesnt charge you, i’ve been using t-mobile and i’ve had 4g everywhere

  • Prepaid Finder

    I’ve been tracking the whole MVNO market in the US, and have published the results for sorting and exploring at http://www.prepaidfinder.com.

    T-Mobile is still the best value for data users – 5GB for only $30/month!

    When combined with Google Voice, you can bounce between providers at will.

  • KcErica

    I’m interested in the Wal-Mart’s “Family Mobile” prepaid family plan -powered by T-Mobile. From what I can tell it looks like the cheapest option especially if you want to add extra lines to your account. I think they offer unlimited data but I’m not sure if it’s 4G and I don’t know if they cap the data after a certain point. I’m also dying to know how the service is, I have Sprint right now and that can be hit & miss. I’ve always assumed prepaid plans use other providers weakest towers and you pretty much get what you pay for (the same thing I think about Sprint,) but maybe nowadays it’s not like that anymore?

  • Jojo

    This is such a helpful thread!! Huge thanks to the community of comments pouring in, there’s just so much insight! 😀
    I’m going for the T-mobile plan for two reasons. I have been with T-mobile for three years now so I’m used to there service in my area. Also, I use data way more than minutes and there $30 plan is affordable and perfect for me.

  • Michelle

    MetroPCS will not activate a Nexus 5. They could not provide an availability date as to when this phone will be supported. Annoying, since I wasted money on an activation kit.

  • Ed Williams

    Kind of sad and expected to see Verizon digging itself in this giant hole with all of its lock downs and extremities. Being the most reliable carrier gets you places, but being greedy and conniving in the process only gets you so far.

  • mahmoud hassan

    Idk how but I got LTE on my straight talk Sim (T-Mobile) when I switched to the nexus 5

  • Arthur

    I have spent 6-7 hours over the last 8 days trying to get my new Nexus 5 to work on the $30 T-Mobile plan. I wrote up the point-by-point story on their forums: https://support.t-mobile.com/thread/57285. Your luck might be better than mine, but i’m done with T-Mobile.

    Thanks for the list of other (hopefully better) options.

  • LewisSD

    Does the t mobile plan with only 100 minutes include free minutes to other t mobile users?

  • Kevin

    I have used Solavei for my Nexus 4 and its been near perfect. The lack of LTE doesn’t matter when your phone doesn’t have the LTE antenna turned on anyways!
    Not sure if I’m going to upgrade to the N5, it doesn’t seem like that big of step up from the N4, even though it does look like a hell of a phone. And if I did, I might switch to an MVNO with LTE, even though my experience thus far with Solavei has been very good.
    Anyone interested in them who doesn’t want to shell out $9 for a sim card should check out this site: http://www.simgive.com. They give them away free of charge and with no obligations.
    Also, I noticed the article didn’t mention Ting. They’re a Sprint MVNO and will be getting the Nexus 5 within a few weeks. If you are a low volume user, their pricing is pretty fantastic. If you’re a heavy user, you’re better off somewhere else.

  • dpmanthei
  • Terry

    You should look at using http://speedof.me/ for your speedtests.

  • John Curry

    Based on what a T-Mo rep told me today, there are a couple things about the $30 plan you need to know. 1. you do NOT get the international coverage the other ($50, $60 and $70) plans offer. 2. It ONLY works off T-Mobile towers. Whereas the other plans take advantage of agreements between the major carriers that allows cost-free roaming whenever you can’t get a T-mobile signal but you can get someone else’s. The 100 minute talk limit doesn’t bother me but these 2, if true, are a deal breaker for me!

    • IDunnoMyName

      Thanks! I am getting more and more nervous about using this plan. I think I am going to return my Nexus 5.

      • Um, or use someone else? 🙂

        • IDunnoMyName

          Right now I’m getting 2gb and unlimited everything else on VZW for $60. With the LG G2 for $0 versus the Nexus 5 for $450 (after taxes) , it would take me 30 months to break even on one of the $45 dollar plans. I really wanted to try it, but it just doesn’t make sense. And the Nexus 5 isn’t selling too well on Swappa, so it’s going back to the Google. Damn.

          • graphikzking

            I saw that plan. That is a nice plan for Verizon. They don’t offer it on prepaid so you have to sign a 2 year contract.

            the difference for these prepaid plans is that if something better comes along you have the option to switch. Also, being stuck with that G2 phone for 2 years is a LONG time. In 2 years you will most likely stop getting updates, not have a 64bit processor to take advantage of anything that mandates that in 12,15,18,22 months.

            Hell 2 years ago this time we were talking about the HTC rezound and Galaxy Nexus as the “newest” coolest devices coming out.

            Also, phones were all 12-14mm thick, now some are as slim at 6mm. In 18 months who knows what we will have? I like having the options. 🙂

          • Shaun

            What about your access fee? Isn’t that like $40?

          • IDunnoMyName

            No, no access fees. It’s $60 everything included. It’s called the loyalty plan but anyone can get it.

      • John Curry

        Mine arrives tomorrow and I’m going to give the $60 (minus my 15% discount) plan a shot.

  • izick

    Aio Wireless name may change, but service will stay the same. It’s a re-branding of the Cricket name over the Aio business model, instead of the other way around. You wouldn’t buy a failing company and keep a failing business model, would you? http://www.aiowireless.com/content/aio/en/why-aio/news/2013/10/31/customers_love_the_a.html

  • Flavio Favila

    Simple Mobile $40 unlimited talk, text and data (First 1GB @ 4G speed).

  • Dorian Brooks

    Does anyone know the ave D/L speeds for T-Mo or AT&T in Houston, TX?
    Since the article is based off Portland speeds.

  • Chris Jones

    Didn’t see any references to data roaming (in the US) on these plans. Can anyone share experiences outside their home area or state with regard to both data speed and even availability (not to be confused with coverage)?

  • Luis

    Will it work on BOOST mobile?

  • Jason_MF

    Roaming is a pretty big issue that’s been left out.

    TMo’s $30 plan, for example, offers no data roaming at all. With their comparatively small network coverage, that could be a big deal for someone planning to leave their immediate metro area. As a Bostonian, that poses a problem when going anywhere in Northern New England.

    Aio and GoPhone are a similar story with AT&T’s network. Their coverage maps indicate no coverage, data OR voice, in areas where post-paid AT&T plans roam on partner networks.

    I *believe* StraightTalk is the same story, and dependent upon which SIM is being used, but their coverage maps are awful, so it’s tough to say with any certainty.

    It’s been a long time since anyone post-paid has had to worry about roaming capabilities or charges, but it’s not something to be overlooked with pre-paid services.

  • New GoPhone

    I just got my Nexus 5, and switched to the AT&T $60 goPhone plan. Went to an AT&T corporate store, they gave me a sim for free, and activated the phone/plan using the MEID sticker on the back of the Nexus 5. LTE worked instantly, and I am reaching speeds of over 30Mbps. I looked at the APN setting of the GoPhone powered Nexus 5 compared to a Note 3 in the store, and all APN settings were EXACTLY the same!

    Saving $5 a month to go to AIO’s plan doesn’t seem worth the 8Mbps throtlleing or the ability to use 2G speeds after you use your 2 Gigs.

    Saving $15 extra a month might be worth going to Straightalk, but I want to hear more about the throttling and APN settings first.

    I like what T-Mobile is doing, but switching to them over AT&T just isn’t going to cut it for me. Here in Texas AT&T has tons of coverage, T-Mobile and Sprint not so much.

    • graphikzking

      Yeah if you like straightalk they offer a 3 month card for $126 on walmart’s site. That means your monthly is now only $42. That’s $18 which at the end of the year means you saved about $216. Every 2 years you get to buy a new phone and still save money off of just going ATT.

      30mbps is pretty nuts though! I think the ping times are more important when web surfing though.

  • booda frank

    RingPlus runs on Sprints network. Has LTE data. Awesome rates.

  • SHoTTa35

    Question, for people with AIO and such. Does the name stay in the Notification Area all the time like that with stock Android phones too? I just dislike all that branding and went stock to get rid of that but maybe it’s a SIM card thing rather than software customizations?

  • nobody72

    One thing you do not mention is which plans freely allow hotspot. For example I know the t-mobile does not restrict hotspot usage with their plan while straight-talk offiically does not allow hotspot; do any of the others have a similar clause ?

    • br_hermon

      My question is, how does Straight Talk really know that I’m using a hot spot? I turn it on for say 20 mins, browse some stuff on my tablet, update some apps, etc then shut if off. Can they REALLY know I’m tethering?

    • Shilamar Drea Shockley

      TMobile does restrict you after 2GB of usage via hotspot to laptop. But if you’re hotspotting to another mobile device or a tablet then you have no problems. You have to change your UserAgent on a laptop to continue using the hotspot.

  • rjr162

    I don’t know why the ONLY prepaid listed service anyone ever talks about from TracFone is Straight Talk. Straight Talk is a Walmart only option of TracFone, but Net10 is the same darn thing that can be had elsewhere (like Dollar General).
    Also, I know with Net10 it’s $45 with auto-renew setup, otherwise it’s $50/month. Add a second phone/SIM and that second one is only $40 (and each phone/SIM still gets unlimited talk/text/MMS and 2.5GB data)

    Also, lastly.. if you bothered to read the Terms and Conditions for Straight Talk you wouldn’t say “throttled down — likely to 2G speeds”

    Unlimited Minutes, Texts and Data Plans: With these plans, you receive nationwide calling, text messaging and up to 2.5 GB of high speed data for each 30 day plan cycle. If the 2.5 GB threshold is reached, data speed will be reduced to 2G for the remainder of that plan cycle

    • br_hermon

      Using Net10 instead of StraightTalk could save me $5 a month, it isn’t much but its something! I wonder what are the nitty gritty details: Net10 vs StraightTalk. I’ve heard there are minor differences in the two services that could impact your decision on who you go with.

      • br_hermon

        Actually StraightTalk is cheaper if you buy the 1 year refill instead of going month to month. If you’re ok with that.

      • rjr162

        Pretty much the same (both owned by TracFone). 2.5GB limit per SIM/device, throttles to 2G after that.
        I really don’t have a complaint with my Net10 service so far and know a few others who use them as well (including my wife with her Note II)

  • eturk001

    How about Net10?

  • Thomas guide

    There’s also the t mobile family plan from Wal-Mart $40 for unlimited everything High speed data up to 2.5gb. Add second line for $35 for the exact same plan not data sharing.

    Theres also platinum tel $40 for unlimited everything with $250mb high speed data.

  • phreemovement

    flash wireless! im taking my nexus 5 there and its unlimited $47 on the sprint network

  • dmagicp

    Now that I have read this article, I think I am going to be leaving Verizon and going with a Nexus 5 on the 495 a year plan with straight talk. That is just amazing. I had no idea pre paid had come this far and now it just seems utterly stupid to give Verizon that much money every month for cell service.

    • br_hermon

      Pretty much the same here! The only thing holding me back is making sure AT&T is just as reliable for me as VZ has been in my area.

  • Tim

    In my area, the only 2 networks I have to rely on and who have 4G LTE are AT&T and Verizon, so I’ll definitely be going the Straight Talk route. I wish T-Mobile had a greater presence in my area, I’d go to them in a heartbeat. Sprint is out of the question, tried that, horrible experience. Since AT&T offer 4G LTE in my area, ST is the best choice and the most bang for my $$$. In the 2 years I had my Galaxy Nexus on Verizon, I’ve only gone over 2GB/mo twice and never over 3GB, so I think I’ll be just fine.

    I’m still shocked at how great a deal the Nexus 5 is. Mine will be here Wednesday.

  • Michael Nyitrai

    nexus 4 with straight talk, love it and have had no problems

  • Keith0606

    Has anyone on verizon jumped to one of att’s regular plans (not prepaid) yet? I get my n5 tomorrow and want to port my number off of Verizon and on as a second number on my wife’s already established account at att. I’ve read about a few nexus5/att activation issues online where it seems like some people already having some difficulty getting the service setup and/or getting lte working on it. I am planning on going to an att store just really hoping it will be uneventful.

    • Andromedo

      As long as you have an LTE-capable (and preferably AT&T supported) phone’s IMEI registered in your profile, you should be fine. In a pinch, one of these can be obtained from a demo phone in the store.

  • starscream

    I am on Verizon until December 2014. I may upgrade the nexus 7 soon, so would getting the LTE model and trying out that Tmo free 200mb deal or whatever it is they are doing for tablets a good way to test out my area? Would that be a fair test or is it not accurate because one is a tablet and the other a phone? Thanks!

  • jmsbwmn

    I like many things about my Verizon S4, but I LOVE neither. Verizon has awesome coverage, sure, and the S4 has a great camera, but I’d much rather sell my phone, pay the ETF, and switch to Nexus 5 pre-paid. I’ve been considering this for a while, andI am tweeting this article because I think it’s a great idea, not just for myself, but anyone who enjoys their smartphone.

  • Caezar07

    In my opinion, T-Mobile’s 100 minutes, unlimited text, and 5gb high speed data plan is the best prepaid plan if you live in a large metropolitan area, and you don’t talk on the phone a lot. Assuming that we all want at least 2gb of data as a bare minimum, the next option is either straight talk or net10 with auto-pay which will both come in at $45/month for unlimited talk, text and 2.5gb of data I think. If you want tethering (with the carrier’s blessing) and you live near a metropolitan, get t-mobile’s $60/month simple choice plan. I’m not familiar with plans much more expensive than this, but I’d look at at&t first. I doubt any of the MVNO’s can beat t-mobile’s plan as far as tethering is concerned, but if you really can’t use t-mobile, you’re probably gonna be paying at least 80 bucks a month total for tethering and all.

  • James

    You forgot the best Tmobile plan:



    100 minutes talk | Unlimited text | First 5 GB at up to 4G speeds
    This plan is only available for devices purchased from
    Wal-Mart or devices activated on T-Mobile.com

    • RedPanther

      I went from big red to Nexus 4 (when it first came out) with this plan. You do not have to buy the Walmart phones and I did my own activation online.

  • Does aknow how roaming works with T-Mobile and/or Aio?

    • BuzzKillington

      I’d like clarification on this also, but I think there is no roaming. This is one of the only things that has me worried about the $30 T-Mobile plan.
      Well, that and the 100 minute limit, but I’m going to try VOIP with GrooveIP or something until the new version of Hangouts comes out with integrated VOIP calling.

    • Andromedo

      There is no roaming on T-Mobile Prepaid or AIO.

  • jdomann

    🙁 I hate how no one mentions Pure Talk USA. It’s a decent service for $43.95/mo, unlimited talk/text 1GB data. And it has a referral program. (not providing a referral link)

    It runs on AT&T’s networks too. I switched to this after T-Mobile because there was almost no coverage for T-Mobile in SW Oklahoma. But AT&T was plentiful.
    So if you don’t want StraightTalk but still need an AT&T carrier, PTUSA is pretty nice.

    But tbh, there’s many good carriers in this space. It’s hard to pick just one.

    • BuzzKillington

      It’s probably because of the low data cap. If it were something like 2.5 GB, then I’d imagine it would be on this list and I’d consider it as well.

      • jdomann

        True, but unlike Straight Talk, they aren’t very variable on where their cap is. (which, from what I heard elsewhere online, ST has variable data caps and unreasonable customer service 😡 )

  • The Aio reports conflicts slightly with another report I read. The previous report I read indicated that AT&T was simply going to fold its customers into the Cricket brand, but nothing would actually change for the customer, except the place the customer is paying.

    Of course, the report could be wrong, or I could be misunderstanding something.

  • Rob

    I know this post is mostly about options for the nexus 5 but the most intriguing option wasn’t mentioned at all. What about republic wireless and their new plans for the Moto X? The price of the outright purchase of Moto X makes them a contender and they have plans as low as $5 depending on your WIFI proximity.

  • UsainBolt

    Metro Pcs $60 unlimited..Great service & no throttling

    • CooperDuper

      Can you confirm your N5 is working on MetroPCS?

      • UsainBolt

        If it uses the same bands as t mobile then it will work easily

        • CooperDuper

          Thanks. From what I have read it does. Hoping to find someone who actually has it working since I’m crazy like that. heh

  • MrT

    I swapped from Tmo to att prepaid. Tmo didn’t have any decent data coverage when I had to move. Att prepaid is pretty good with an acceptable price but I will complain about the auto pay system. It’s dumb and not very intuitive. I ended up double paying to stop getting cutoff at the end of the month.

  • fartbubbler

    Aio sounds really interesting, but I don’t know if I can live with 8Mbps download speed. Just ran OOKLA and got 31.66 (VZW 4G). That would be a painful drop off.

  • ButcherChop

    I don’t like how Straight Talk says they will throttle you to 2G speeds after you hit the 2.5GB mark. How is that acceptable for anyone? I remember being on AT&T and they used to throttle me after 3GB and my phone was unusable until I hit a WiFi Hotspot.
    I’ve been on T-Mobile’s $30 a month (5G at 4G speeds) and although it took me getting used to coming from AT&T’s superior coverage network, I seem to have adjusted really well. Would I jump back to AT&T if they offered a competitive rate to T-Mo? You bet I would!
    Whoever wrote this article did a fantastic job overall, but I don’t see why or who can take being throttled to 2G after 2.5GB of data. Does he not use his phone much?

    • DoctorJB

      Wifi at home and work, never hit 2.5gb (despite having upto 24 or so mbps when I needed it).

      • ButcherChop

        I use the cloud for everything now:

        Music – Google Music All Access (used to use Spotify)
        Videos – Netflix, Google Drive, Dropbox, MLB, YouTube
        Photos – Google back up, Dropbox, etc.
        Social Networks – Google+, Facebook

        My phone is always being used when out and about.

  • Mike

    Great article Kellex!!! So what if I want to stay with Verizon, but I want KitKat 4.4? Are there any phones coming to Verizon or already on Verizon that will get KitKat 4.4 anytime soon? I don’t mind flashing a custom rom, if I have to.

    • Pedro

      If by ‘soon’, you mean mid-late 2014, then no. Not that fast, my friend.

    • Hothfox

      The Motorola Droids will very likely get 4.4, as well as the Moto X. Probably the HTC One at some point, though not soon, I wouldn’t think. Eventually Samsung Galaxy S4 and Note 3 probably will too. Officially – dev community will probably have it up much sooner, and on more devices. There are already ROMs for the Verizon Galaxy Nexus too.

  • Darrin W. Crenshaw

    Having watch Kellex unbox the device, I’m still on the fence about LG’s quality of hardware. Previous experience with the Venice has left a mark when other say that they make some of the best phones around.

    If I break down and get it, I’ll have to ditch Boost (not many prepaid options where I live) for Straight Talk.

  • Incredible_Culp

    Interesting read here.. Also the comments ive read have good info as well..

    I do have a question, though. I’m currently on AIO — I made the switch from T-Mobile about a few weeks ago when my contract ended, and waiting on my N5!

    Since my phone I’m currently using – HTC Sensation 4g unlocked, rooted etc, I cant access ATT’s 3/4G or LTE data — My phone doesnt have those frequency bands, so im not aware of the speeds AIO produces (yet) until my N5 is here. I live on campus so im using the snot of out the wifi LOL.

    Anyways, my question is this: I was set on AIO as my main provider, but after reading this and the comments im torn. AIO is “capped” at only 8mbps – Im aware of that, and im sure itll be enough for my usage (not sure tho haha). But, reading this, (I think im confused on the “cap” and “throttle” term, so correct me if im wrong with my usages) I know if i go beyond the set amount gig, im “throttled” to 2g.. So, (1.) ST does not “cap” the data, and you receive as much data as you can depending on your location? Is this right? Also (2.) Now Go Phone is the same as ST (no data cap) but you can add a gig if you go over your “set gig” (i.e. 2GB)

    (3.) Basically the only difference between ST and GP is the “adding of the gig” am i right? (which AIO does as well)

    If there is any more major differences please shed some light.. Thanks!

  • CapnShiner

    I noticed that Sprint was not even mentioned. They have Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and whole hell of a lot more MVNOs on their network. I think they are pretty much all unlimited everything. However, like Verizon, they use CDMA and an unlocked Nexus 5 will not work. Unlike Verizon, their coverage and service are terrible, worse than T-Mobile in some areas. I assume this is why it wasn’t included.

  • nate

    I really wish verizon wasn’t the only provider to have coverage where i live…

  • J Dub

    Now that the TracFone variants have come clean on when they throttle I don’t see why you would go with any other option. It is the best value at $45 per month and 2.5 GB of data.

  • Rodeojones000

    This info makes me wish, even more than before, that I lived in an area where someone other than Verizon offers decent coverage. T-Mobile is non existent, while AT&T is spotty at best.

  • Dave S.

    I actually just got my two (micro & nano) free SIM Starter Kits from T-Moble in the mail today…and that $70/mo options looks pretty sweet to me. It’s basically what I have right now on Verizon (though i only get 450 minutes, which I barely use)…and it’s a whole $40 LESS that what I’m currently paying!

    Been reading various sites’ Nexus 5 reviews (all pretty good, though there are varying reports on the quality of the camera)…so all I’ll be waiting for is my contract to end with Verizon in December and I’ll most likely be making the jump to T-Mo with the N5!

    (Those T-Mobile Speed Test results are a little underwhelming, though. Anyone in here on T-Moble in a major market (I’m in Philly) that can say whether or not the results shown above are just a fluke or something?)

    • Pedro

      It could be that the LTE LAC isn’t set up correctly.
      When LTE started in Houston, running SpeedTest would often contact a server in Oklahoma or Kansas, or somewhere I wasn’t. It also screwed up the aGPS. GPS lock would take minutes, since the phone thought I was in another state.
      After a few months, it all cleared up.

  • CooperDuper

    What are the best (prepaid) options for tethering to the phone or using the phone as a hotspot for my tablet?

  • Jimas

    Great article man! Thanks for addressing the concern that many of us have, especially as my Nexus 5 is coming in the mail 🙂

    One question about AIO since you’ve been using it – do they have similar tethering restrictions as ST in their ToS? Have you used tethering on it and have they enforced any restrictions on you because of that?

  • Mac

    I was using the $30 a month T-Mobile plan, it was nice and I am rooting for T-Mobile but my biggest issue was coverage, plus always going over my 100 minutes a month, switched to Solavei and my coverage is much better even though it’s using the same T-Mobile network. In the country and other rural areas, it roams voice only off of AT&T at no additional cost.

  • JMonkeYJ

    Some additional information on Straight Talk:

    On Straight Talk you can also choose to use T-Mobile’s network, rather than AT&T’s. You get access to T-Mobile’s LTE and HSPA+ networks. Another benefit is that T-Mobile does not currently throttle data, so there is no 2.5 GB/month 4G limit.

    Also, the Straight Talk refill cards often go on sale. For instance, I recently got the 1-year refill card for $439.95 from Amazon. That’s only $36.66/month for unlimited EVERYTHING! If you keep your eye out for deals, you just can’t beat the prices for Straight Talk.

    I’ve used their customer service several times, and it’s not great, but it’s also not terrible and they have been able to resolve my issues (eventually or immediately) every time. Obviously that is only about 3 data points, so take it with a grain of salt.

    • DoctorJB

      I always grab the 6 month refills for $219 but it’s essentially the same rate. I prefer ATT since I don’t use 2.5gb of data a month (wifi at home and work) and prefer LTE and better coverage.

    • TheDrizzle

      My biggest issue is that they say you can’t stream media. And they seem to actually enforce it as well.

      • DoctorJB

        Not any more, the new ToS only bans “uninterrupted video streaming” and gives the example of a security camera.

        • TheDrizzle

          Hmm interesting. But how does YouTube or other video streaming services not fall into that category? It seems kind of vague.

          Also, how did you make something bold in Disqus?!

          • DoctorJB

            Wouldn’t think so unless you have youtube on an uninterrupted feed.

            Simple html tags: with a b in between, /b to stop the bold.

  • Andrew

    The problem I run into T-mobile is that the coverage is terrible for my main travel areas. I’m sure it’s great in the larger cities, but rural it’s not even a valid option.

  • Matthew Sing

    Are the t mobile plans shown to you when purchasing a flagship phone such as the nexus 5 or do you have to do anything special to get the discounted prices?

    • Pedro

      All you need is cash.

  • Bob G

    Kellen, can you do a similar post for Canadians? Or have someone in Canada help test it out?

  • Ryan Stewart

    Im, good article and all but you kind of forgot about the fact that Straight Talk has other networks besides AT&T. Im on the T-Mobile setup.

    • DoctorJB

      They also have Sprint in addition to Tmo and ATT but ATT tends to have better coverage and supports LTE so most people on ST choose it.

    • Ahmed

      Does Straight Talk (Tmobile) LTE work on the Nexus 5?. I believe only ATT ST compatible sims has the LTE benefit. I am using the Tmobile one and I don’t get any LTE speed only H and I do have LTE coverage in my area.

      • Ryan Stewart

        No T-Mobile LTE yet, AT&T LTE though. Being said on T-Mobile its not a big deal as they get the full-fledged HSPA+ and its not gimped like AT&T. I get average 18MB/s down and about 8-10 up in Atlanta on T-Mobile through Straight Talk. Its nothing to scoff at and its easier on my battery than LTE.

  • Lakerfan

    Say if I go to Canada once or twice/year and want to send a few text messages? How does text message roaming work on the prepaid plans?
    My other question is if you can’t roam, can you switch in and out of the $30/month Tmobile plan and take advantage of the international data roaming they just announced?

    • Pedro

      For the International stuff now in effect, you need one of the postpaid plans. The $30 prepaid plan doesn’t get free international data. Or, so I’ve read and been told by CS.

      • Lakerfan

        Ok so then the other question is can I go back and forth between a prepaid and a postpaid? Or once I’m on the $30/month plan I pretty much have to stay on it if I want to keep it?

        • Pedro

          Since there’s no contract, I don’t see why not.
          You may have to switch SIMs, depending on which account you want to use. Another Real Good Reason to use Google Voice as your ‘main’ number.

  • br_hermon

    I’m totally new to Straight Talk (current Verizon customer) but I’m hoping there are some Straight Talk users here who can help me out. How easy is it to swap a Sim card out at will? Say I have a T-Mobile Sim card on hand and a AT&T sim card in my phone and I’m in an area with no AT&T coverage. Can I just power off the phone, throw in my T-Mobile sim card and use that? Then once I leave that area swap back in my AT&T sim card? I know I would need to change APN settings for each carrier, but is it as simple as that? Straight Talk uses AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon, so I’m guessing they’d allow any compatible sim card from those 4?

    The reason I ask is because I see that Verizon’s Droid DNA is infact GSM compatible (http://www.androidcentral.com/how-use-verizon-droid-dna-att-or-any-other-gsm-network). So I figure I can put a AT&T sim card in there and use it on Straight Talk. But that leads me to question, what about OTA updates? Since the phone technically is a Verizon phone, updates would come from them. So it got me wondering, while on Straight Talk, could I throw a Verizon sim card in the phone, download the OTA. Then after completing the update, put back in my AT&T sim card.

    • DoctorJB

      As long as your device is unlocked, it really is that easy. You may want to check your phone, though, because many Verizon/Sprint phones with GSM slots are locked against USA carrier sims.

  • Wilsonian

    Has anyone had the issue with StraightTalk cutting off your data at a specific level because you used “too much” during one single day? That is what I’ve heard and that would be a HUGE issue. I don’t care about the 2.5GB throttling, but no data at all is a big issue for me.

    • Chuck May

      The Straight Talk TOS does not allow audio or video streaming. So no Pandora, Play Music, Youtube, etc. I was throttled for that when my monthly data usage was very low. Trying to talk with their support is beyond frustrating.

      I’m on AIO now and really enjoying the service so far.

      • Wilsonian

        That’s what I’m looking for. Thanks! I’m debating on going to AIO for a bit. I could stomach the 7gb at 8 Mbps pretty easily. Even at $140 for two phones with that I’m saving $75 off my Verizon contract. And at my house, Verizon’s 4G usually fluctuates between 4-7 Mbps anyway. So not like I’d see much of a slow down.

      • JMonkeYJ

        That’s interesting, because their TOS say no “continuous” streaming. The intent is to block use of the service to do something like operate a 24/7 webcam or live streaming of that nature.

        I use streaming audio/video services regularly and never gotten throttled. So take that for what you will 🙂

        Chuck, are you on AT&T or T-Mobile? Maybe the fact that I use T-Mobile’s network is what has exempted me from these issues.

        • DoctorJB

          He’s quoting from one of the old ToS. It used to ban all streaming. The new ToS even establishes 2.5gb as the throttle point when you switch from 3/4g to 2g.

          • JMonkeYJ

            Thanks, that is good info. My friends ask me about this stuff all the time, so that will be helpful.

          • Indiefilm127

            Straight Talk seems to throttle if you use around/over 150MB in any given day. They won’t give a straight answer about actual numbers… but I was throttled last month and my wife this month. And by throttled I mean they shut our data off completely. I got throttled two months in a row and the data was throttled for good… no turning back on at end of month.

        • Chuck May

          It’s been at least 6 months since I left Straight Talk, so it is very possible they changed their TOS. After talking to their support and getting the run around trying to get my speeds back I just decided I had to leave. I stream music enough that I don’t want to worry about it.

          I was on an AT&T sim with them. I’ve heard that T-Mobile doesn’t have as many problems. unfortunately, the coverage in my area is vastly superior on AT&T.

  • UnixPimp

    AIO is not closing up. It would help if you would research theses stories before posting. AT&T is rebranding AIO as Cricket after they complete the aquisistion of Leap Wireless.

    Here is the information on AIO’s website, if you even bother to read it


  • Dave

    We split 4 lines between us and my in laws. 1 dumb phone and 3 smartphones on unlimited LTE on Verizon, sharing 1400 minutes which has never even been near used. Less than $200 after taxes and fees with my work discount on the main line, they pay $85 (good deal for them) and we pay $110 for our 2 lines (good deal for us). I guess I’m going to have to stay where I am, can’t see this deal being bested with the coverage and speed I get on VZ. Sticking to rooting and ROMS it looks like with non-Nexus devices.

    • snapple

      Jeezus!!! Now your doing lines with your in-laws? what kind of girl did you marry?!?! you should JUST SAY NO, and enjoy some snapple instead

      • Dave

        Well, they are paying nearly full price, enhancing my nice monthly rate….LoL

  • rthvk

    Finally Kellen 🙂

  • slyde56

    I haven’t seen this warning about AIO wireless yet, so I thought I would chime in: AIO has NO support for SMS short codes (shortcodes), as in 40404 from Twitter and other codes for other online services.

    • Clifton Keathley

      How do you know?

  • C-Law

    So I’m curious, if you wanted to go with straight talk, could you buy any used att phone on swappa and throw in a Sim? or do you or the previous owner have to contact att and do some sort of unlock process?

    • DoctorJB

      Yes, no unlock needed (if you get one of the BYOD ATT sims). I have used a locked iphone 4 on ST ATT. I can confirm that it was locked because my gf tried it with her Tmo sim and got the “incompatible sim” error.

      • C-Law

        Oh ok thanks! My gf is considering getting her dad a used s3, nexus 4, or nexus 5 for Christmas and a straight talk Sim. I’ll let her know to look for att phones because a straight talk att Sim would get us better signal in the area than straight talk T-Mobile Sim

  • T S

    one of the most informative articles i’ve read on pre paid carriers and was looking forward to this write up. thanks so much for doing the leg work!

  • DanSan

    the tmobile prepaid plans (like the $30 one), none of them support call forwarding which is what is needed to use google voice for your voicemail service. you would need to get one of their regular no contract plans which i really dont see whats the difference between the prepaid and no contract

    • Rovindra Singh

      So even if you call up CS and disable T Mobile Voicemail service Google Voice would not work? I thought that’s what was mentioned in the article as a workaround for the problem. If this is true and it doesn’t let Google Voice work which one of the plans would allow GV to be your voicemail client?

  • DoctorJB

    The sprint MVNOs (ting, page+, ring+) have the cheapest monthlies (often in the $10 range) but they have very limited min/sms/data. I use my phone a lot so I’m on Straight Talk ATT LTE which I get for $36/month by buying refills on Amazon (can often get 6m/$220).

  • kselby

    Does anybody know if since I am on a family plan, does this change anything? My contract on my phone in the family plan expires in December, would I be able to just leave the plan without the other two people leaving?

    • Futbolrunner

      As long as there will be at least 2 lines left on the family plan, nothing will change. Although you may want to adjust how many minutes you’re signed up for.

      I was on a family plan with 3 lines but the other 2 left VZW to T-Mobile so I had to go to an individual line. I was able to hold on to my unlimited data.

  • Nick

    I regularly hit ~10GB month on VZW. Aside from a locked bootloader and crap pricing on data and devices, is there anyone here who might stay just to take advantage of unlimited?

    • Dave

      When I split the 4 lines with my wife and folks we only end up paying $110 with fees and taxes on 2 unlimited LTE lines for our share of the bill. I’m not leaving that deal for any device.

      • snapple

        you need to stop talking about your drug use like this… i mean really, dave. sure, its smart to go in together like that, but doing “lines”. your incriminating your wife too. horrible. at least you had the decency to call the others “folks”. why dont you just enjoy some SNAPPLE instead 🙂

        • Dave

          Well, a couple “lines” every now and then gets me as beneficiary on life insurance real quick.

          • snapple

            You gold digging whoreo cookie

  • The one thing that is missing in this article is the annoying APNs with prepaid. I had some growing pains switching over to prepaid. Tried them all. APNs are a b***h, constantly telling my friends to send me a MMS to make sure its working. Learned to deal with it until I got tired of it, and switched to a prepaid where APNs come up automatic. Pay extra but worth it to me to get the better coverage and not having to worry about APNs. Also prepaid coverage is different then postpaid. The closer you buy from the actual network the better coverage you will get.

    • DoctorJB

      You can send yourself sms and mms to confirm your APNs are working. I have Handcent Messenger on my android now and the APNs somehow don’t matter. Even though the android sms app doesn’t receive mms (it was broken by the APN that enabled LTE on ST) handcent has no problem sending/receiving through mms.

      • Unfortunately that is not a reliable way to test incoming and outgoing MMS. Many times I would be able to receive my own MMS but from other companies (ATT, Verizon etc.) I would be having issues/ Until I found an APN that worked. Then I wiped/flashed a new ROM and would have to do it all over again.

    • DanSan

      ive read this is the best to use.

      Change its apn to: fast.t-mobile.com
      Change the MMSC (same menu) to: http://mms.msg.eng.t-mobile.com/mms/wapenc

  • hfoster52

    So how can porting your number to Google Voice work? Do you forward the number to your phone?

    • Keith

      It’s very similar to porting a number to another carrier. In such a case, Google would essentially be the carrier to which your number is being ported.

      • TheDrizzle

        Everytime I try to port my number to GV it says it can’t do it. Not sure what is going on.

  • Adam Truelove

    Why the hell would I get a AIO plan for $55/2GB when I get a Straight Talk plan for $45/2.5GB?? They both work on AT&T LTE network.

    • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

      Straight Talk is perfect… unless you factor in their ridicluous throttling stance… Who knows when they’re going to throttle your speed they really can’t be trusted in that instance.

    • Chuck May

      I mentioned this above, but the TOS for Straight Talk does NOT allow streaming audio or video. To me, then you really don’t have 2.5GB. I was throttled with very little data usage because of this. When I tried to contact their support they were awful. I know others who have not been throttled, so I don’t know why I was.

  • Philip J. Fry

    Man I didnt want to hear that about AIO. I figured I could get by with the 7gb plan but there’s no way in hell I can do with straight talks 2.5gb limit.

  • FD

    Something worth noting-The TMO $30 plan doesn’t include roaming. If you can’t connect directly to the TMO network, you have no service. Their standard plans can roam onto ATT in some areas where they don’t have native coverage.

    • besweeet

      From what I heard from a number of people, you /do/ get roaming, but just for voice and texts, not data.

      • FD

        That’s correct. No data. I should’ve been more specific.

    • JMonkeYJ

      I believe this is the case with virtually all the prepaid carriers. It’s a bit of a bummer, but I’m not sure how common these roaming agreements are these days for data, anyway, since everyone is so aggressively building out their own networks.

  • Matt

    Why no love for Page Plus??? Buy a sprint device, flash it to Page Plus, get Big Red’s coverage for 12 bucks a month. No 4G for now, but rumor mill says its in the pipeline. Thats my plan.

  • I Am Awesome

    AT&T Go Phone plans will allow you to bring your own device. Just talked with an agent the other day. It’d be $60/mo for unlimited talk, unlimited text, and 2 gig data, with $10 per extra gig. It seems like a good alternative to AIO since you get roaming as well as priority placement on AT&T’s towers, as opposed to AIO kicking or throttling you if a tower becomes too crowded. You’d basically get everything an AT&T contract would, but month to month.


    • Droon

      I am planning on signing up for a GoPhone plan today (Nexus 5 just arrived at home).

    • ben

      Exactly, I’m doing the same thing

    • Yeah, I was honestly surprised that it wasn’t mentioned in the article. It’s not a bad price and the service has all of the plusses that you mentioned.

    • Andromedo

      I’m not sure you get roaming on Go Phone.

      I’ve heard reports of folks who are “No Service” in a roaming area on a Go Phone SIM, but get roaming coverage on a Straight Talk (ATT) SIM because ST/Tracfone has roaming agreements that Go Phone doesn’t support.

      I know of somebody who moved back to ST from Go Phone because of a drive through a rural area that was covered by ST on ATT but not Go Phone.

      • Keith

        To be honest, I’m quoting what the rep had told me. I had actually asked about AIO as a viable pre-paid alternative to AT&T post-paid. It was only at that point he mentioned GoPhone as a better alternative to AIO because, though a wee bit pricier, it allows better priority placement on towers as well as roaming. Where as AIO has certain restrictions, GoPhone gets pretty much identical treatment to post-paid plans.

        I will have to look further into it though. I’ve held off on my N5 acquisition till: 1) it becomes evident that no custom roms will bring 4.4 to my GNex, 2) the battery reviews suit me (currently in love with my 3850mAh extended battery), and 3) I know for sure the difference in coverage compared to my current VZW plan will be negligible in our area.

        I would love to kick VZW to the curb, but it would be a big jump for me because it would cost me my unlimited data. 🙂

  • Chris Schmucker

    Hypothetically, I get Straight-Talk. I get the same cell reception as a phone on an At&t contract side-by-side?

    • Negative cell reception will not be comparable to contract AT&T … you will be getting the prepaid side of “AT&T”

  • Rovindra Singh

    Kellex B, do you know if there is any way to port your number over from Solavei? I want to switch but I’m afraid I won’t get to move my number over.

    • Devi8

      port your number to Google Voice, then you can switch pre-paid carries without losing your main number

  • Shawn Parks

    Sticking with VZW unlimited data plan for now. I do not like AT&T and the other prepaids coverage are still spotty at best. Just purchased a LG G2

    • Tuna

      How did you get an LG G2 for $99 and still have unlimited data?

      • BuzzKillington

        Probably that bug last month that allowed people to upgrade their device but still keep unlimited data.

  • Adam Truelove

    Straight Talk looks great, except for that 2.5GB cap. My wife needs less than half that, and I need at least double that. I wish they offered a more expensive option with more geebees.

    • br_hermon

      I’m not totally familiar but Net10 is a sister company to StraightTalk and they offer “family plans” not sure if it would work to suite your needs but its worth checking out.

      P.S. Looking at your avatar, are you a Shiny user? I think I’ve seen you over at rootzwiki

  • Jeralmac

    Based on the speed tests, AIO and Straight Talk are out. I prefer low latency over high download speed. Opens the doors for real time applications such as VOIP!

  • Hothfox

    Did you look at AT&T prepaid (not AIO)? Are their speeds throttled versus postpaid?

    • If you mean GoPhone, I personally wouldn’t go that route. Their best plan is $60 for 2GB of data, and they may not even throttle you after you hit 2GB. From what I’m seeing, they’ll charge you overages.

      • Hothfox

        Their website says you can add an additional 1GB for $10. Is it your experience that this is not the case?

        TMobile sucks in my area, and I’m not too keen on Straight Talk. I’m not even going to bother with AIO since they’ll probably go away soon, and I’ll just be left in the same situation I’m in now.

        • You can certainly add more, but should you start using 4-6GB a month for some reason, that’s a pretty steep bill.

          • Hothfox

            Right now, I’m on a $30/month for 3GB data only plan for my Nexus 7. I’m looking to stay with AT&T or a really good AT&T MVNO for my Nexus 5. I can get their $60 for 2GB GoPhone plan, which equates to $90 total for services. Or, I can go with a share everything plan for $135 total, for both devices with the same amount of data I’d be getting with GoPhone (2GB phone, 3GB tablet). Even if I added an extra 2GB for $20 onto the GoPhone plan, I’d still be paying less than if I went with an AT&T share everything plan. There is even no advantage in going with share everything to use the left over data my tablet might not have used for my phone instead – as I mentioned, it’s cheaper just to add an extra GB or 2 to the GoPhone plan than to pay for a share plan.

            I prefer not to go with Straight Talk, as I don’t like that they (up until recently) were making it very difficult to find out how much unlimited actually was. Their customer service is also terrible, which is to be expected.

            If I want to be on AT&T, going with GoPhone really makes the most financial sense. I was just trying to get an idea if they throttle their GoPhone service compared to their postpaid service.

          • John Smith

            GoPhone prepaid is on par with AT&T postpaid. AIO and Straight Talk are not. they have slower speeds. roaming ability is in question.

            GoPhone customers ( since june 2013) are treated on par with postpaid at&t customers – they use the same apn settings. I specifically asked at&t tech support and was told that go phone customers are now on the same n/w as postpaid. This means that they should in theory have same access to roaming ( as long as the phone also supports roaming partner frequencies).

            Yeah, Aio customers have to go through a proxy. There’s a youtube video where a guy does a speedtest with an AT&T sim (i don’t remember if it was gophone or contract sim), and has a ping in the 60’s. He pops in Aio sim, and ping goes into the 200s.

            GoPhone doesn’t throttle your data speeds. 8mb/s is about the average HSPA+ speeds for AT&T in some areas. Their LTE is much faster, maybe more than twice or three times that.

            also – i don’t mind Straight Talk’s 2.5GB/month cap. i’m more worried about the reports of getting your data cut off if you use more than 150MB/day. anybody experience or hear about this?

          • Hothfox

            Thank you for your input! This is the information I was looking for. Will probably go with $60/2GB of data with unlimited talk and text. I was on the fence about going onto a Share Everything plan, but the fact that the GoPhone plans can now use their LTE network made it a no contest.

            I agree about Straight Talk. I don’t like how ambiguous everything is, and that they’ve barely made any attempt to clarify things for their customers.

          • John Smith

            i’m also doing the AT&T GoPhone $60 plan.

      • Hothfox

        Plus, AIO is throttled to 8Mbps. That’s barely LTE in my opinion. Maybe I’m just spoiled by straight up AT&T, where I typically have my Nexus 7 pulling 20Mbps. I might just throw everything on a share everything plan, but I thought I’d try and save like $50 a month going with prepaid on my phone.

      • ben

        $10 for additional 1 gig of data, I’d rather have the option to buy more rather than be mysteriously throttled. In reality this plan is just $5 more /m than AIO plan. As far as I’m reading you get full LTE access and in store support if you need it. I’m planning on using Gophone with my Nexus 5. Will have it tomorrow.

  • slowpok22

    any difference in Net10 and Straight talk? any reason you left them off the list?
    going to dump verizon, next door has At&t and has good signal in my area.

    • Just not really familiar with them. Like I said at the end, there are probably a dozen other options, these are just the half-dozen I am most familiar with.

      • slowpok22

        Thanks, should have it in my hand Wednesday, going to make the jump :),
        my verizon 4G was very spotty depending on which way the wind blew, in the heart of Arlington Va.

      • Devi8

        same company slightly different pricing

    • Mike Menard

      I’ve been using Net10 with ATT sim for a month now and it has been great. I buy refills on callingmart.com and hit their facebook page up for discount codes. I paid $46 this month for the $50 plan.

      • JMonkeYJ

        If you sign up for auto-refill you can get it for $45 a month. That’s what I was doing until I discovered how discounted Straight Talk refills are sometimes and switched.

      • BuzzKillington

        Do you know if Net10 has the same “No streaming or >150Mb per day” clause as Straight Talk? The only thing keeping me from considering ST is this ridiculous detail.

        • Mike Menard

          I have not noticed anything. I went over the 150Mb mark in a day streaming Netflix and never got throttled. I think they relaxed their views when they announced the 2.5GB limit before throttling.

    • JMonkeYJ

      As far as I can tell, NET10 and Straight Talk are the same. I know when I call their tech support sometimes they get a little confused about whether I am calling for NET10 or Straight Talk. It’s all run/managed/supported by the same people.

  • Philip J. Fry

    I wish I could use tmobile, but there service is horrible where I live. 🙁

  • Michael D

    Could someone help explain to me how selling a Verizon grandfathered data plan works? I I currently am on contract with Big Red until July of 2014 for the 29.99 unlimited data plan & 700 nationwide minutes (I share the minutes with another, non-unlimited data line who is currently month-to-month). If I was to sell my account through an AOL on eBay, would I have to first take the non-unlimited data, month-to-month line off the account, then sell it? Could the person who purchases the account from me change the monthly minutes from 700 to 450, and keep the unlimited 29.99 data plan? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Devi8

      contact the AOL department. If you haven’t done that already. There
      number is 888-832-4540. They will complete your AOL. You will need to
      call in first to authorize for this change to take place, then have the winner call the same number with the policy number and phone number they are taking over. The Account would then be split so a family plan 1400 with a unlimited/2gb would become 2 plans one under your name 1400min with 2gb fata, and the unlimited under the new owners name with 1400 min.

      • Michael D

        Could the other line on the account that I’m selling (the non-unlimited, month-to-month one) leave as they please, so there would not have to be a split?

  • Bill Anderson

    Question: Are the 100 minutes in the $30 T-Mobile plan “peak” minutes? Do you get any free nights and weekends?

    • T S

      i believe it’s straight 100 anytime mins. no freebies. :

      • ddevito

        have you tried using GrooveIP (if you use GVoice) on WiFi?

        • Bill Anderson

          That’s the plan. Just wanted to know how flexible they were on the 100 minutes. Thanks, guys.

          • capecodcarl

            Just be aware VOIP with your Google Voice account and GrooveIP will no longer work after May 15, 2014 since Google is shutting down XMPP. They should have Hangouts integration out by then though like on Apple’s IOS platform.

        • duke69111

          Groove IP will likely stop working in May 2014 when Google shuts off all third parties. It works really well though.

    • Mike Hilal

      You have to activate your SIM online, if you want to get in on this plan. Am I right, or will they do it in store?

      • T S

        for the $30 100 min / unlimited text / 5GB at up to 4G LTE speeds, you have to activate your SIM online and T Mobile will not do this in store.

        • Mike Hilal

          Thank you

    • Droidzilla

      I’ve had this plan. It’s 100 minutes full stop; peak, off peak, whatever. You get 100 net for the month.

  • p0k3y

    Nice summary. I think I will probably go with StraightTalk ATT once my contract with VZW expires on 11/23. Does anyone know if StraightTalk limits tethering? Or if N5/Kitkat has Wifi Tether support out of the box, like what I get now on my 4.3 ROMs?

    • Justtyn Hutcheson

      StraightTalk’s ToS bans tethering, and it is cause for them cutting off your service without refund. However, in practice I doubt they really enforce that policy.

      Direct quote:

      “7. STRAIGHT TALK UNLIMITED PLANS CANNOT BE USED FOR: any applications that tether your device to a laptop or personal computer other than for the use of Wireless Sync.”

      • p0k3y

        That sux. I know they ban streaming, but this is a surprise. What about the other AT&T options – Does AIO ban tethering?

        Edit: Looks like AIO bans it too, although it works fine. I suppose that’s the same as VZW now. I don’t pay the outrageous $20/mo extra, but I tether anyway.

        • DoctorJB

          I believe the most recent TOS don’t ban streaming (aside from “uninterrupted video streaming”).

  • Renjamin

    You rock, sir. Thanks for doing the heavy lifting on this service to the consumer community.

  • Hatyrei

    I bought a simcard at walmart for $30 4GLTE and when I tried to activate it it didin’t give me the option of $30 plan instead only $50 plan can be activated, 🙁

    • starnovsky

      WalMart could be an issue. They have a statement of their web site that their SIMcards and plans only work with the phones purchased though WalMart.
      Better buy SIM on T-Mo web site.

  • silentbob2003

    What about GoPhone?

    • I’ll pay the extra to not have to worry about APNs, and get it working as if it was post paid AT&T

    • ben

      Exactly….$60/M full LTE, 2gigs, no throttling, buy more data option ($10/gig). I’ll be going to AT&T store tomorrow to set mine up.

      • mondeca

        Why is that better than the $45 Straight Talk plan listed above that has 2.5GB and is also on AT&T’s network?

        • Ben

          Straight Talk voice/data is lower priority traffic on AT&T towers from what I understand. Straight Talk has terrible support, just read some reviews. Basically you’ll talk to someone in India. A lot of people don’t have to face this, but if I have a problem I need good support (it is worth a bit more to me). I can walk into an AT&T store or call AT&T for issues.

          Go Phone has full LTE, the same as post paid plans, straight talk does not. In fact I’m not sure you get any LTE with an AT&T sim (which you can’t buy anymore for ST). ST lists on the website you can get LTE with a Tmobile phone only.

          If and when you get throttled on ST you are screwed and must wait out the reminder of the month at 2G speed. If I hit my 2gig limit on gophone I just buy another gig for $10. I never go over 2gigs/m so the plan is a good fit for me, I like the option of buying more data if I need it. I’ll realistically never use over 2 gigs though.

          Straight Talk is tempting, but coming from Verizon I at least want some comparable service levels without a contract.

          • mondeca

            Good info. Thanks.

          • Hothfox

            FWIW, you can now buy AT&T Straight Talk SIMs again, that work on their LTE network. They are, as you mentioned, throttled speeds, though. And if you go over 2.5GB, it’s throttled further.

          • Matthew Morrison

            so even if you don’t go over the limit, the speeds are still throttled?

          • Hothfox

            Other’s experience dictates that, yes, compared to if you were on an actual AT&T postpaid or GoPhone plan, you’ll probably get slower speeds even if you’re within their cap. That is, if you go with the proxy settings they provide you. People have had success using different APN settings and being able to get full AT&T speeds, etc.

            It is, after all, an MVNO. Why would AT&T give non-AT&T customers the same access to their services without the user having paid them for the services?

          • Chris Hannan

            No it’s not. You get full speeds up to 2.5GB. You’re not throttled until after that.

          • Hothfox

            Other’s speed tests indicate that, yes. I haven’t tried it, so I can just go by reviews. But reviews are enough to discourage me. I do know that you can use alternate APN settings and get AT&T speeds.

          • Chris Hannan

            You can clearly see Kellen getting 24Mbps down and 7.44Mbps up on Straight Talk above. You might be reading old reviews.

          • Hothfox

            Probably also depends on your area, wouldn’t it? I mean, if there’s 2 people using an AT&T tower near you, and you’re using Straight Talk with an AT&T SIM, you’re not exactly fighting for usage, and probably will get pretty close to priority.

          • Chris Hannan

            That’s not throttling. That’s congestion.

          • Hothfox

            Fair enough, yes you’re right.

            I do know that AIO users are throttled to 8mbps. I used to have experience with Straight Talk, but not recently.

          • izick

            It’s not throttled. 24 Mbps is not throttled LTE when I do the same test with my GoPhone and get the exact same number. Lower priority doesn’t mean speeds usually, it means Ping times.

          • Hothfox

            I’m not sure what you’re trying to prove with a GoPhone speed test – GoPhone is not the same as AIO. GoPhone is the same priority traffic as AT&T’s standard post-paid traffic, so you would get the same speed tests.

            Here are even three seperate posts that state they throttle AIO LTE speeds to 8mbps, one even written here on Droid-Life:




          • DoctorJB

            Wrong, ST has ATT LTE sims in stock (and they get way over 8mbps dl) :


          • Ben

            ah, yup you are correct

          • seryozha

            This has changed and you can now get AT&T SIM’s again.

      • Adam Truelove

        No throttling? What do you mean? So when you hit the 2GB limit, what happens?

        • Ben

          From http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php/1807448-GoPhone-Data-Limit-Question

          So looks like you’ll get notified and then no data, I assume it will amount to going to the go phone portal site and clicking a button to add 1 gig of data. There may be an auto purchase feature, but I don’t know since I’m not signed up yet.

          • seryozha

            correct. once you run out of data, you are boned and have to pony up $10 for another gig.

        • Hothfox

          Throttling speeds, he means. On Straight Talk or AIO, you only get 8mbps or less download speeds, since it’s lower priority traffic than AT&T’s own network. GoPhone, however, IS AT&T traffic, and is treated the same as post paid plans.

          • DoctorJB

            On ST and i’ve gotten 24mbps downloads.

          • Steve

            Did you look at the Straight Talk speed test ITA?

        • JRomeo

          when you hit the 2GB limit, instead of receiving unlimited 4G internet, you receive unlimited 2G internet until your billing cycle resets

          • Hothfox

            That’s with Straight Talk. With GoPhone, you’re simply just out of data until you add more.

        • CapnShiner

          Read the whole post. Kellen covered that.

      • JRomeo

        if you have 2 lines, then tmobile has a better deal…. 2 lines $120 per month, unlimited 4G internet, no throttling, no caps…. unlimited minutes/text

        • ben

          Yup, but my area has no tmobile service, just Verizon and AT&T

        • Hothfox

          It might be a better deal, but people going with GoPhone probably don’t have very good TMobile coverage in their area. I know that’s my reason.

      • ButcherChop

        $60 dollars a month for ONLY 2GB?? Option to buy another 1GB for $10?? Too expensive.

        AIO sounds like a better plan. I used from 4-5GB a month and that’s why T-Mobile works for me. But yes, I live in Los Angeles, where maybe the T-Mobile is better than most smaller cities.

        • Hothfox

          A lot of of does come down to coverage. Tmobile is great if you live in a city. Also, AIO is probably going away soon, when AT&T completes their acquisition. All told, $60 for 2GB of data is cheaper than what you’d be paying on AT&T’s post paid share everything plans, so you’re still saving money by going with GoPhone. AIO is also an MVNO, and has been reported throttling LTE speeds to 8mbps, as it’s not top AT&T priority traffic. So yeah, you’ll get 2.5GB LTE speeds, but it’s only at 8mbps, which really isn’t LTE at all, considering I get 20mbps on “real” AT&T LTE.

      • scb1898

        I have GoPhone, and it works great! I’ve had no issues.

    • WickedToby741

      I second this. I made the jump from Verizon to GoPhone when the Nexus 4 dropped in price and couldn’t be happier. Kind of surprised it wasn’t listed.

    • bukowski

      Yessir! What about GoPhone? It’s a great option. You are basically one tiny/negligible step below AT&T post-paid customers. You get full HSPA+ and LTE, without the proxies and traffic prioritization you’ll find with a lot of other MVNOs. I buy all my refills from CallingMart. They routinely (literally on a monthly basis) throw up a 10% off discount code on their Facebook page, so I’m actually only paying $54/month for the $60 plan. I know 2 gigs seems awfully low for many people, but I’m on wifi a vast majority of the time.
      I previously used Solavei, but I just couldn’t stand the spotty T-Mo coverage after a few months. Speeds on T-Mo were certainly faster, but what good is speed you can’t use? Not to mention, the plan advertised at $45/month (Or was it $49? I forget.) actually ran me $57 and some change after taxes and fees. With GoPhone and getting my refills from CallingMart, it’s a straight $54 every time.

      • Hothfox

        What GoPhone plan is the correct one? I see two listed. (Thank you for the tip! I am going with GoPhone today when my N5 gets delivered!)

  • moelsen8

    ST on the AT&T side is where it’s at. Booyah.

  • Rovindra Singh

    Torn between T-Mobile and AT&T, does T-Mobile offer true 4G LTE coverage or just “4G speeds”? Tired of using HSPA+ on Solavei network, any recommendations for New York coverage guys?

    • besweeet

      Yes, it uses their LTE network at uncappd speeds (until you go over what you’re allowed, of course, where after your speeds will be 50Kbps, which is slow, but fine for basic web tasks).

    • T-Mobile offers 4G LTE, and they have coverage in NY – but I have not tested their LTE in NYC yet.

  • Someone explain the asterisk beside the Straight Talk $45 option, please. i know its got to have something to do with limited data on a 4G connection. right? but how limited?

    • They are known to throttle data speeds after you consume 2.5GB in a month. Lots of people also complain about customer service.

      • Steve B

        I’ve also heard they technically limit what kind of data you can consume (i.e. they don’t allow streaming of any kind, includes YouTube, Play Music, Pandora, etc.).

        • Grasshopper239

          There are new TOS for ST. They basically prohibit continuous streaming of video or using your connection for torrents and the like. Give them a read, much more palatable than before

    • Luke

      It says in the article. Up to 2.5GB at LTE speeds, then down to 2G.

      • oh crap! i skimmed too fast….thanks!

  • Also might want to mention Sprint – for people that live in one of the new markets covered by LTE. They have no-contract smartphone plans with unlimited data starting at $60.

    • Talking about Sprint just brings pain to my body. I’ve only had the chance to use their LTE network in a few markets, but it’s always just so terrible. I just think people should stick with GSM these days heh.

      • arthuruscg

        I think you West Coast guys need to come out to the East Coast and experience what is it like to not have coverage. Some times you have to sell your soul to get coverage.

  • Ryan

    Thank you so much for this post!

  • Kofi Williams

    Thank you.

  • This post just answered all of my dreams. I did not know that T-Mobile had a $30/month plan that gets you 5 GB of 4G data. That’s freaking awesome! I really don’t talk on the phone much at all, so this is a no-brainer for me. I can now begin to consider getting the N5 when it hits BestBuy or the like. Thank you DL!!!!

  • Dan

    What’s this I see about all T-Mobile’s plans being essentially prepaid now? I still see references to contract durations and early termination fees on the plan listings on their website.

    • cptngoju

      From what I understand, it should just be if you purchase a device on their payment plan.

  • ddevito

    I sold my Moto X over the weekend and will be (once again) dumping Big Red to go to T-Mobile. I really miss the X but I already a microSIM for the $30 unlimited data plan and can’t wait to get my 16GB Black N5. Any Nexus is just too much to resist.

    Buh Bye Verizon. You dirty pigs.

    • adh328

      Where do you sell your Android phones? Just curious.

      • Zach B.

        Ebay, Craigslist, and I’m a personal fan of Swappa.

      • Dan

        I have bought and sold through Swappa, decent system.

      • ddevito

        I sold the X on Craigslist, but usually prefer Ebay.

      • bassmaster118

        Swappa is a great site for sell phones.

  • Glaur

    Since I picked up the Nexus 4 last year I have tried a lot of different Pre-paid services. The biggest problem with any MVNO that no one ever seems to mention is immediate and sometimes unsolvable issues with MMS. You get the best results with a pre-paid directly from T-mo or AT&T and a ton of issues from an MVNO. Read forums and search Google before you pick an MVNO! I’m currently using Net10 (AT&T) and haven’t had MMS in a while, although it worked in the beginning.

    • mms = vhs

      • ^^^

        • nerds

          so what is the dvd player to replace it?

          • Rovindra Singh


          • apps

          • William McKenzie III

            Hmm I dunno. MMS is old for sure, but so is the way SMS works, it’s archaic. The problem with alternatives is that they are alternatives and not “easy” or already baked in. I don’t think people want to make an effort unless it’s right there in front of them and obvious.

            For example, if I want to send something short and quick (non-email) like an in the moment photo, I don’t want to have to tell the friend I’m sending it to that they need to download a certain app first, and then use it only when they talk to me, and only when I send them a photo. I could try to convince all my friends to do something like Hangouts or some other client, but then they wouldn’t use it because none of their other friends would have it or use it.

            BBM was awesome when we all had Blackberries back in the day and it was obvious and right there to use, and iMessage is even better than that and reigns supreme among many of my friends and those that I work with. Hangouts might be that needed baked in, data only (nothing over SMS nor MMS) messenger finally. But until something like Hangouts is socially accepted as universal and easy/obvious to do and use, I think the default SMS and MMS will be the VHS that carries us to 4K.

            Kellen, would you consider making an article about options or what you guys use? That probably sounds boring to some but I’d bet it’d be super useful and interesting to a lot. Hi from SE btw!

      • Glaur

        So I should use what to send pictures or group text?

        • Dan

          they invented this new thing called “e-mail”, I hear it even works on fruity devices.

          • Glaur

            Surprisingly unhelpful comments.

          • Devi8

            Your APN is incorrect, I have two nexus 4 both straightalk (same as net 10) both have different APNs for MMS it depends when you device was activated do some goggling you’ll find on that works

          • DoctorJB

            On ST the APN that enabled LTE blocked sending MMS. I got Handcent Messenger (recommended by another ST user) and now all MMS works perfectly through the app somehow.

  • Prodstick

    Which of them would you have the best network coverage? A big problem with picking non-VZW carriers is their coverage is lax where VZ might in fact have 4G. Large chunks of western CT and MA for example are not covered by T-Mo

    • besweeet

      Probably one that runs off of AT$T.

  • Lugnuts McGruff

    On a related subject…

    Has anyone (Looking at you Kellex) tried shoving in an activated Verizon SIM to determine if definitively the N5 does/doesn’t work with big-red’s LTE data network?

    Thanking you in advance…

    • Jason Kahn

      I want an answer to this

      • ddevito

        Myriam Joire (formerly from Engadget) tried and it did not work.

        • Lugnuts McGruff

          Link if possible please.

          Wow! Assuming assuming that is the case Google really went out of there way to give Verizon the big FU/Middle Finger…

          • NotTheTodd

            It’s the other way around…. Verizon doesn’t play well with others

          • Will P
          • DoctorJB

            Nope, Verizon 3g is not sim-based. It uses ESN lookups which Verizon would block since the N5 is not an approved device.

    • Allen Yates

      It could only possibly work where they have activated their AWS LTE spectrum (band 4), which is not a lot of places yet. Nexus 5 doesn’t even have their 700 MHz band 13.

      • Justtyn Hutcheson

        Rather, like the N4, the modem is capable of band 13, but it is disabled in hardware (unlikely to be hackable like the early N4 builds), and has not been certified for use by the FCC nor Verizon.

    • Taylor Abrahamson

      The main issue is that no phone can be activated on verizon if its MEID number is not in Verizons database. So in other words, if the phone wasn’t built from the manufacturer for verizon, then verizon doesn’t have the MEID number in its database, which means when you put a verizon sim in, verizons network will look up the MEID and reject it.

      • pbolton70

        Actually it only looks up the MEID (as far as granting network access) during activation with new SIM.If you take and swap a sim from a working phone then it works fine. As long as you have the right radios to access the network. That is why people could not activate the Nexus 7 but if they popped their phone Sim card in it would work.

        • DoctorJB

          Notice he said “phone”. You would only get LTE, no 3g or voice/sms without Verizon’s ESN approval.

    • Matthew Ponce de Leon

      The Nexus 5 absolutety, positively does not work with Verizon’s LTE. It does not have the correct bands.

  • i have the $30/month T-Mobile prepaid with my GS4 Google Edition, and I’m in San Francisco… but I have better LTE speeds than Verizon and AT&T in pretty much most of the areas I frequent in SF, I’m gonna chalk it up too congestion, and since LTE is brand new with T-Mobile here in SF I’m guessing there’s just less people on it
    Currently I get ~20mbps downtown SF, which I think is pretty great, girlfriend get’s about ~14mbps on Verizon, same phone (well kinda, just regular not GPE)


    I was going to give Aio a shot, but now that Straight Talk has introduced LTE SIM cards, I’m going to just stick with them.

    • Chris Carter

      I’m happy with the coverage the Aio gives me but considering going back to ST. Will use T-Mobile for a month since T-Mobile was giving SIM cards away ( SIM card plus shipping free) for a month or so.

  • Warwick

    Is anyone on T-Mobile’s $70 prepaid plan? If so do you get throttled on data if you get past a certain amount?

    • besweeet

      The $70 plan is truly unlimited.

      • Mark Saccente

        It is not unlimited. They throttle you to 2g speeds once you go over 10gbs. trust me. I know….

        • Mathew Colburn

          I’ve used over 10gbs in a month and not been throttled. In fact I think my first month on that plan I used somewhere around 25gbs streaming MLB.TV/Netflix/Hulu and never got throttled.

          • Mark Saccente

            Here is a online chat I had with a T-mo rep in regards to throttling.

            Juanpaolo Z: You are using the unlimited 4G service.
            Juanpaolo Z: There’s no throttle point for that rate plan.”
            ME: So why am I being thottled?
            ME: Like I said, no matter where I am, what files I download, after the first 5 minutes download speeds drop to 5KB/s.
            Juanpaolo Z: I checked your account and it has used 10.83GB of data.
            You: Yes.
            Juanpaolo Z: Let me double check if it has throttle point.
            Juanpaolo Z: I do appreciate you for staying connected.
            Juanpaolo Z: There’s a 10GB throttle point for the $70 Unlimited 4G, Talk & Text Simple Choice plan.
            Juanpaolo Z: Once the 10GB is reached, the speed will change to 2G (basic).

            They throttled me…But every account is different

          • Mathew Colburn

            Weird. I used 21.483 gbs in August and wasn’t throttled at all.

          • Mark Saccente

            What is weird was the first month I used 15gb and was never throttled…So it might be like a selective thing or something…Who knows. I switched over to StraightTalk and now me and my nexus 5 are happy lol

          • shooter50

            Sorry, I dont believe this. I stream HBO at home to my TV sometimes all night and several days a week, but have never seen a slow down. If someone really told you this, they dont know what they are talking about.

    • JeffColorado

      I am. I have never seen throttling myself, and have been told T-Mobile does not throttle on unlimited plans.

    • shooter50

      There is NO throttling on the 70.00 plan. By the way, if you have more than one phone in the family, the price drops to 60.00 for unlimited everything with no throttling. If you have coverage in your area, this is a no brainer. For instance in all of South Florida, Tmobile LTE is consistently in excess of 20 mbps down. Their HSPA + is between 8-15. I left Verizon after years and couldnt be happier.

  • You should mention MetroPCS. Same network, speeds, and plans at T-Mobile but all $10 per month cheaper.

    • starnovsky

      So they have $20 plan with 5Gb? I’d go for it!

      • No $20 plan that I know of, but T-Mobile’s normal 50/60/70 plans are 40/50/60 on MetroPCS.

        • DoctorJB

          Aren’t you losing the device subsidy? At that point you’re better off with the $30 tmo prepaid plan.

    • Mark Saccente

      Does anybody know if metro pcs will work with the nexus 5?

      • Yes, it is owned by T-Mobile and uses the same network now. You can bring your own device and just get a SIM from them to get started.

        • Cory_S

          Does it have the same roaming agreements?

          • BeerguyOE

            I gotta check with my buddy who has merto

        • BeerguyOE

          Has t mobile compete switch everyone to GSM from CDMA? Where I live I get zero service and metro pcs has great service

    • Completely forgot about that whole deal. Added to post. I’ll let you tell people if it’s awesome or not. 😛

      • SIM card is $10, plans are here http://www.metropcs.com/metro/simpleplans

        • Pengwn

          Since they run on T-Mobile’s network, will it work with a T-Mobile sim, or will I need to get a new card to test?

      • DoctorJB

        Ting, ringplus and pageplus are the cheapest MVNOs. They use sprint and don’t offer a ton of min/sms/mb but they are by far the cheapest.
        They should also be supported by the N5, since it is a sprint device.

      • Shawn Parks

        You have to be in one of their “home” areas to sign up and they will kick you if you use the extended area too much

    • JRomeo

      MetroPCS doesn’t even use sim cards…….. so why is MetroPCS on this list at all? am I missing something?

      • MetroPCS was acquired by T-Mobile. They now offer SIM cards and operate on T-Mobile’s network.

        • JRomeo

          I thought full integration would take at least a year… but based on what you said, it appears as soon as they were acquired, it was like POOF, sim cards were available O_O… in which case all i have to say is wow… that was quick… what about all those people on MetroPCS CDMA phones…. can they go pickup a gsm phone, walk into a Metro and ask for a sim card now?

          • The MetroPCS CDMA network is still active, but customers now have the option of getting a SIM card and using it on an unlocked GSM device on T-Mobile’s network.

    • Dave Lyons

      Was looking into Metro PCS this afternoon. They currently have a promotion where they give you $50 for bringing your own phone and $50 for porting in your number. Hopefully this includes the Nexus 5.

  • zepfloyd

    Really doesn’t get better than the $30 T-Mobile Unlimited Data* (5GB) , Unlimited Text, 100 minute plan, provided you can get it to activate.

    • starnovsky

      What’s the problem with getting it to activate? Activation is though T-Mo web site.

      • zepfloyd

        yeah, when it works. Even I had trouble where it tells you it’s processing to check back in a few minutes or call CS…it took a little of a hassle to push it through but once it goes it’s fine. Tons of threads on the same issue for some reason.

        • ButcherChop

          That’s odd. Mine went smoothly.

    • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

      Great plan…unless you use more than 100 Minutes. I definitely still talk a lot. What if you go over? Do they just charge for more minutes? How does it work with that plan?

      • starnovsky

        Or Skype, etc.

      • zepfloyd

        Wifi calling, or any other VOIP call. There’s a number of work arounds. If you talk a lot, it may not be the best plan for you, but for the money, it’s impossible to beat.

      • Droidzilla

        I tried to use the 100 minute plan with GrooVe IP, and I couldn’t hang at all. GrooVe IP is so-so at times, completely unusable at others. I tried some other SIP clients and found nothing that even touches the ease, battery life, and call quality of cellular. My verdict: definitely not worth it if you talk on the phone.

        • capecodcarl

          Google is shutting down XMPP support on May 15, 2014 so GrooveIP will no longer work after that for VOIP with your Google Voice account. Fortunately though, we will probably have some kind of “native” Hangouts integration with Google Voice by then.

          For example, on the iPhone 4S I’m using to test out T-Mobile’s $30 plan there is a new IOS version of Hangouts that can make and receive VOIP calls using your Google Voice number. It’s actually REALLY nice and I’m considering just switching to an iPhone if I want to stick with the $30 prepaid plan unless/until Google rolls out Google Voice VOIP in Hangouts too.

          • Droidzilla

            If Google throws in a decent call client on data via Hangouts, I’m going back to that $30 prepaid plan for sure. Right now me and two family members are on postpaid (contract required but no ETF) and it’s $50/line for unlimited everything; no throttling ever. Still, for $20 less per line it’ll be hard to pass up the $30 plan.

        • KR

          GrooVe IP didn’t cut it for me, either. I signed up with a free pbxes account and use Zoiper for calls. It’s been better than any other service I’ve used so far, and plenty livable when you consider overall savings.

          • Droidzilla

            What’s your battery drain like? I used CSIPSimple (I think; tried a few) and it murdered my battery if I left it on to receive calls.

      • MattH818

        Or you could do what I do, and just add $10-20 extra every couple of months for minutes overages. They charge 10 cents/minute over the 100. So if you think about it, $50/month gets you 300 minutes, unlimited text, and 5GB 4G data. For me, it’s perfect.

        • JonE

          I completely concur. I moved to this plan about a year ago. I go over my 100min in no time each month, so I just set my auto-pay to always top-up to $40 each cycle. For $30/month and even another $50 in “extra minutes”, which I’ve never done, this is still the best deal going.

          • MattH818

            I added $20 extra for minutes overages back in Feb and I just ran through it last month. So I added another $20 on top of the $30 for this month. I don’t talk on the phone all that much normally, but I still think it’s a good deal if you need that 5GB of data but don’t want to pay $70 for unlimited.

        • ButcherChop

          I do the same thing. My account is $30 flat (tax included) and I was going over my 100 minutes the first few months. So since then I add an extra $10 into my account so they can just charge me .10 cents a minute if I go over. But its been about 5 months since Ive gone over my 100 minutes. I guess now with text apps, I no longer use my phone for over 5 minutes at a time. I will say that most of those I do find myself in phone conversations for a long period of time are with those friends over 45 years of age. They just don’t do the texting thing I guess.

      • KR

        I use more than 100 minutes, but I place calls over VoIP, for free. It uses very little data (plus I’m usually on wifi, anyway), and I effectively have unlimited everything, for $32.xx (tax included).

    • ddevito

      it really doesn’t – I tried it on an N4 in August and worked great. I never had any GVoice voicemail issues either, lots of people warned me but it always worked without issue.

    • JonE

      Activation is super easy. I’ve done it for me and 2 other people.

    • TroutChaser

      I’m not seeing that $30 plan on there at this point … just their unlimited. Do you have to go to a store to get that one?

      • zepfloyd

        its at the bottom of the prepaid page on T-Mobile’s site with the note of: This plan is only available for devices purchased from Wal-Mart or devices activated on T-Mobile .com. The walmart link is http://www.walmart.com/ip/T-Mobile-SIM-Kit/24099996 to order or pickup. Works in any phone capable of their network.

        • TroutChaser

          Beautiful – thanks. I saw that after I posted but was still confused, thinking I had to buy a phone. So I have to shop Walmart, huh? Hmm. 🙂

          • Or buy a SIM online and activate it on T-Mobile’s website

    • ChristianMcC

      Even better if you can get some responsible family members and do 5 line post paid family plan, like I did. $42/per line unlimited everything(unthrottled), at max, and 2.5GB allowed tethering.

    • meijin3

      I already have a prepaid plan with them. How would I go about switching to the $30 plan? Can I use my current SIM?

  • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

    Thank you SIR!… Just swung home for lunch and grabbed my GORGEOUS N5!… Feels so good in my hand.

    One thing I’ve always wondered though is what people do about Insurance with their pre-paid devices. THat’s never really a part of these types of articles. Do folks use Square Trade? Or are there others out there?

    • Dan

      I use a spare few Benjamins in the bank.

    • billy

      i’ve been wondering this too. my original g-nex ended up in the bathtub with a toddler, and i foresee more mishaps in the future…

    • Droidzilla

      Insurance is worthless. Think about it: insurance is $4.79/month with a $150 deductible. That’s $264.96 if you break your phone every two years. Of course, replacing something like a full screen is usually around $100-200.

      Here’s my example: my wife is known to drop phones. We got her and I Nexus 4s. She dropped hers on the screen and shattered it. I sold it for $100 and am getting a 16GB Nexus 5, so it cost me $250. I could have repaired the Nexus 4 for ~$160. I don’t see how insurance would really help me out for this scenario. Like all insurance, it’s a gamble for them that you won’t need it and for you that you will. But even so, I could have sold my N4 on Craigslist for $100 and bought a used N4 for around $200, which is cheaper than the deductible. With Google making phones so cheap unlocked, I think insurance is really not a great gamble anymore. Just my 2¢.

      • TheDrizzle

        That’s the key: Google is selling super cheap phones. Insurance becomes more valuable on $600+ phones.

        You can buy a N4 with a broken screen for $100? That sounds like a sweet deal if the screen isn’t too hard to fix.

        • Pedro

          LG fixed a broken screen/digitizer on my daughter’s phone for $140. Since it happened in the first 90 days after I bought the phone, Amex reimbursed me for the repair.

          And, actually, LG sent a note that they just sent a new phone with the same IMEI.

          • TheDrizzle

            Amex, as in American Express? The credit card company?

          • Pedro


          • TheDrizzle

            What Jedi mind trick did you use on them?

          • Pedro

            It’s a benefit. Buyer Protection or some such thing.
            You get 90 days from the day you purchase something with the card. If you can prove you are spending money to repair/replace it, they’ll reimburse you. Best of all, it’s just there. Nothing to sign up for.
            In this case, since I have never used it in the dozen years I’ve had the card, they didn’t even want proof. Just a quick claim online and I got a credit to my bill.

          • scb1898

            I’ve yet to use this benefit, but it is good to know it is there.

          • Chris Carter

            Square Trade will insure for about $5 a month if your purchase it within 30 days.