From Apple to Samsung: 5G phones available right now

Some prepaid and resold services limit text messages and phone calls, so the cost of one may be slightly more or less if you use more or fewer texts and minutes, respectively. If a plan offered a lower rate for enabling autopay or paying for a year in advance, or included loyalty discounts that cut your bill over time a new feature at Boost Mobile and Verizon Prepaid as of summer , we factored in those options. We did not, however, count deals that excluded existing customers or required trading in a phone or porting over a number.

This Verizon 5 GB plan includes full-speed mobile hotspot and allows HD streaming video, albeit capped at p resolution on phones and p on tablets. For this plan, Verizon offers discounts to employees and members of designated companies and organizations; only its military and veterans discount applies to unlimited plans.

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Verizon has historically taken a long time to push out software updates for the Android phones it sells, and its Android 9 and Android 10 updates still lag behind those of T-Mobile. But Verizon sells phones unlocked although last June, carriers received permission from the Federal Communications Commission to lock them for 60 days after activation to thwart fraud , so you can and should save money by using a local prepaid SIM when traveling internationally. And T-Mobile offers a wider choice of phones and delivers much better international-roaming options.

The research firm RootMetrics, which does automated testing while driving around the country, gives T-Mobile lagging grades for voice and text use but also shows T-Mobile at a respectable and close third place for speed and data—especially in urban areas.

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After the cap, T-Mobile slows hotspot connections to 3G speeds. Opensignal found in June that T-Mobile 5G customers connected to that signal And it includes an hour of free Gogo inflight Wi-Fi for every flight on compatible aircraft. Due to constantly shifting promotions and terms, family-plan pricing is difficult to sort through, but one service has a clear advantage in our typical usage scenario of 5 GB per month per device: Consumer Cellular.

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Most important, it offers US-based phone support and step-by-step manuals and video tutorials for the non-tech savvy, maintains an in-store presence in major retailers such as Target, and offers installment-plan purchase options with roughly the same terms as the majors provide. Consumer Cellular blocks mobile-hotspot use by default but enables that feature if you ask.

And you pay up front for either three, six, or 12 months—the longer the package, the better the price per month. Here you get 5 GB a month allowed for hotspot use, after which your tethered devices lose access to that shared Mint bandwidth. All these plans include mobile-hotspot usage up to that plan cap, with no constraints on streaming-video resolution. Mint does require some compromises, though. And you face the risk of seeing your bandwidth deprioritized behind that of T-Mobile subscribers , especially when the network is busy.

Selecting a network is the trickiest part of picking a plan. Coverage can vary from block to block or even building to building, so carrier coverage maps can be a good starting point only if you can zoom in to the street level—and even then they say nothing about how the network fares in busy areas. Opensignal , PCMag , and RootMetrics all publish independently sourced network-performance metrics, but those studies take different approaches and are thus good for different purposes. Its coverage map —which, unlike its network scores, also folds in crowd-based estimates from users of its mobile apps —encompasses basically every major US city street and highway, as well as all of the towns and thoroughfares that connect them.

You can also find reports tailored to specific metropolitan areas. This amount of detail makes RootMetrics a great source for gauging overall performance by region. PCMag takes a similar approach but focuses more specifically on network data speed and reliability. PCMag has also historically conducted its tests with a single high-end phone model—last year, the Samsung Galaxy S10 —that may support more high-speed frequencies than your own. In those regions, it has block-by-block information. Your carrier uses this number when calculating your bill.

Looking back to pre-pandemic times might give you a better sense of how your usage might look in six to nine months we hope , and more recent bills might give you a better idea of what to expect for the months to come.

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These features may help you choose a less expensive plan. So although plans touted as unlimited suggest a pleasing simplicity, you should seriously consider those with a high usage cap that offer more flexibility with that data.

The best way to figure out how many texts or calls you send or make is to consult your billing statement. But this comparison tool requires careful reading: Like Google searches, it shows sponsored results before organic ones. It also includes far more services than we cover here and shows not just plans with the required amount of data, minutes, and texts but also those that exceed your needs, producing a cluttered presentation overall.

If you want unlimited calls and texts, more attentive customer service, and phone financing through your carrier, you should stick with a traditional postpaid plan, where you get a bill for service after you use it.

Discounts for Military, Government, Corporate Employees | Verizon Wireless

Many prepaid services are provided by smaller companies that simply resell service from one of the big carriers, so they offer coverage similar to that of the major carriers at a lower price. Others prioritize their own customers over third-party prepaid traffic, as happens with the Metro by T-Mobile subsidiary. One T-Mobile and Verizon reseller told us that these policies had yet to yield any effects.

The wireless services some cable operators offer, based on resold network capacity from one of the big three carriers, represent their own special case. Phone manufacturers have lagged in shipping phones that support all of those different flavors.

The first crop of 5G phones have also been much larger and more expensive than their 4G counterparts and have often suffered from reduced battery life. Back in the land of more common 4G data speeds, services keep trying to make themselves harder to leave in various ways beyond installment-payment and early-upgrade deals on phones. For example, free-with-your-plan media bonuses like HBO Max subscriptions can save you money on services you were going to pay for anyway but also make it harder for you to leave the service. As long as they do just that, you can expect to see more deals along those lines.

The biggest unknown in the industry is what effect going from four big carriers to three will have on competition. All three higher-end plans include 5G broadband, although your odds of enjoying those faster speeds remain very low. Note that outside of Canada and Mexico , these prepaid plans offer no international roaming-data options. Fi now offers limited support for some Samsung and OnePlus models and even some iPhones.

If your passport has dozens of stamps and your current or desired phone is on its list, though, Google Fi is worth a look. Customers in those areas can expect average download speeds 7. T-Mobile also has a map to search for 5G connectivity. T-Mobile is using its entire MHz footprint with this new standalone network. This low-band frequency is not as fast as millimeter-wave frequencies but it does have more range.

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T-Mobile has built its 5G network with low-band, midband, and millimeter-wave components. T-Mobile has been expanding its midband 2. On Sept. Those cities include:. Florida Dunedin Key Vista Ridgecrest. Maryland Laurel Lochearn Parkville.

T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T and Verizon customers reporting widespread cell service outages

Massachusetts Melrose Revere Saugus. Minnesota Hopkins Minneapolis St. Joseph Warrensburg. North Carolina Cornelius Piney Green. Verizon's new network uses DSS technology and the existing networking infrastructure that the carrier's LTE traffic runs on currently. Verizon offers its fastest connectivity in 61 cities as of December The newest cities on the list are in bold:. Louis, MO St. Paul, MN St.

In December , Verizon announced a 5G edge network in 10 cities :. This service is designed for businesses and designed to enable developers to build applications for mobile end-users and wireless edge devices with ultralow latency. Verizon's 5G phones include:. You can keep track of Verizon's 5G service expansion here.

Editor's note: This article was updated on Jan. Delivered Tuesdays and Fridays. Veronica Combs is a senior writer at TechRepublic. For more than 10 years, she has covered technology, healthcare, and business strategy.

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