Taking a quick trip through wireless carrier forums and help groups and reddit threads almost always turns up several posts related to carrier quality or speeds. It is not hard to find people complaining about T-Mobile or Verizon or AT&T networks. I get it, that’s what forums are for, but the thing is, we live in a time where you can pretty easily test another provider for free and decide if it’s time to make a switch.
Both Verizon and T-Mobile offer free trials of their network, plus AT&T’s Cricket Wireless will let you do the same if you want to take their network for a spin.
Switching carriers is no longer difficult
I know what you are thinking now – switching carriers sounds like hell. Yeah, it does or at least it used to. You see, switching carriers was probably purposely made difficult at one point. You had to order a SIM card from another carrier, possibly pay for that SIM card, physically swap it in and out, and then hope that all of the correct carrier settings then applied when you made that swap. If for some reason a SIM swap didn’t take, you would then have to call a carrier to confirm the change, probably provide a ridiculously long SIM and IMEI to a customer support rep, reboot a couple of times, and then try to enjoy. Oh, and you probably had to pay for a month of service too and deal with a new phone number.
Since we live in the future, most of what I described above no longer applies. Our phones have these things called eSIMs (like a digital SIM card) now that let you easily add wireless provider access to your phone with the touch of a couple of buttons rather than the swapping of a physical SIM card. Some phones will let you keep multiple eSIMs active today or at least a physical SIM with an eSIM.
And that’s how the free trials from Verizon, T-Mobile, and Cricket (AT&T) work – through eSIM. When you take their free trial offer, they activate an eSIM on your phone to allow for testing of their network alongside your current network. You can do the entire setup through an app and without ever stepping foot in a physical wireless carrier store.
Try T-Mobile for free
T-Mobile was likely the first to setup their free trial with launch kicking off in September of last year. This is also arguably the best free trial, as it gives you access to their network for 90 days. That’s the longest of any carrier.
T-Mobile’s offer is 90 days of 5G service through their Network Pass. This appears to be data-only access, where you get to trial their 5G network for app use, web browsing, etc. and still use your other carrier’s phone for calls and texts. You get unlimited data during that time, but could see data slow at times if you use more than 50GB in a month.
How to sign-up for T-Mobile’s Network pass: To try T-Mobile’s 5G network for free, you will need a phone that has eSIM support. That’s basically any modern phone like your Pixel, Samsung, or iPhone. For reference here, a phone as old as the Pixel 3a has eSIM support. If you’ve purchased a phone any time in the last several years, the chances of it supporting eSIM are high.
If you have a supported phone, the next step is to download the T-Mobile app (Android, iOS). Once installed, you’ll open and find a “Sample the T-Mobile experience” area before clicking “Try T-Mobile.” From there, the app confirms your eligibility and that your phone is compatible. It’ll then run through the final steps to activating eSIM and activating data. The video below takes you through it.
Because I know you are curious, T-Mobile says that you do not need a credit card to get started. Once you’ve signed-up through their app, you get “worry-free and cost-free” 5G access for 90 days. Once the 90 days are done, the trial “will automatically end.”
Try Verizon for free
Verizon only launched their free trial within the past month, but it should be as easy as any to sign-up for. This free trial is for 3o days, but the rest of the story is pretty similar to what I described above for T-Mobile.
Verizon’s offer is 30 days of 5G network service (5G Ultra Wideband included) with 100GB of data as well as unlimited talk and text. Like with the T-Mobile offer, there is no commitment or credit check. The biggest difference in this trial is that Verizon assigns you a phone number that you can use alongside your other one. You don’t need to use it and can just use the data if you want.
How to sign-up for Verizon’s 30-day free trial: Again, like T-Mobile’s offer, you install the My Verizon app (Android, iOS). You should see an option at the top of the page to “Start Free Trial.” Clicking that button will run through a test to check your device’s eligibility before letting you fill out some basic info and then activating 5G.
NOTE: As os November 1, you can also try Verizon’s Visible for free on both Android and iOS. More info here.
As you’ll see in the video below, there are a few steps on an iPhone and also on Android that you’ll need to complete in your phone’s settings area to get everything working. This is not difficult stuff, though.
I’ll say this again – Verizon claims that there is no credit check or credit card needed to activate this offer.
To sign-up, install the My Verizon app.
Try AT&T for free (through Cricket)
Unfortunately, AT&T does not currently offer a free trial program like those we talked about above. However, they own Cricket Wireless, which uses their network for service. If you’d like to test out AT&T’s coverage in your area, this would be one way to do it without cost.
AT&T’s Cricket offer is a 14-day free trial that includes unlimited talk, text, and 3GB of data. Like the others, it sets up on your phone via eSIM and does not require commitment or cost. For some reason, Cricket is limiting this to iPhone users, so Android folks are out of luck. That seems like a really ridiculous limitation from AT&T and Cricket.
How to sign-up for Cricket’s 30-day free trial: For the final time, this is like the others in that you simply install an app and then follow several steps. For Cricket’s trial, you download the tryCricket app on your iPhone (here) and then follow the instructions from there.
The process should take all of 15 minutes (or less) and runs simultaneously alongside your current service. So again, you get to try AT&T’s network next to Verizon or T-Mobile’s.
So yeah, if you don’t like your current network, try another for free.