January 18 2010|02.05 PM UTC

Tony Adam

The Ultimate Cell Phone Plans Comparison

Category: WirelessTags: , , , ,

On Friday, Verizon Wireless announced pricing plan restructuring that would reduce the cost of voice usage. AT&T Wireless quickly followed suit and unveiled their updated cell phone plans as well. Today is the day that those changes go into effect.

While both carriers announced these changes as efforts to simplify plans, the real truth behind the story is that the profits are in the data: Verizon’s revenue is now up 24% (they reported $15.8 billion in Q309), with 17% coming from data services.

I think that there is still a long way to go before it gets to a point where picking a cell phone plan is simple, even after these various many attempts by the carriers in 2009. There are still way too many plan combination. This is our best attempt to simplify all of the plan combination and it was painful, but here it is, The Ultimate Cell Phone Plans Comparison:

Editor’s note: 6/15/10. The cell phone plan comparison graphic has now been updated to reflect AT&T’s new data pricing that affects all new customers.

Click Image to Enlarge

The Ultimate Cell Phone Plan Comparison

BillShrink can help you find cell phone plans that save you money and fit your needs, without sifting through the madness!

Embed the above graphics on your blog:

Check out previous graphics comparing:
Nexus One vs Droid vs iPhone vs Palm Pre
Droid vs. iPhone vs. Palm Pre vs. MyTouch 3G

Do you think carriers are doing a good job simplifying rate plan combinations, or, are we still in a dizzying mess?

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{ 114 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt March 16, 2010 at 6:33 am

I would like to see a chart by phone (and I know that is a lot of work), but a carriers charges different rates for different phones. As an example, the Pre Plus on Verizon does not allow tethering, but it includes MIFI for $40/month, and Sprint’s Pre does not allow tethering at all. Other phones have tethering that costs only $15/month if you have the business data plan (Verizon and there is another pet peeve).

If you have to shell out an additional $40/month to connect your laptop, a lot of these plans start to sound awful.


Dave March 26, 2010 at 1:49 pm

On the family unlimited plans there is a way big difference in plans like Sprint is $20/per/month per/add on phone and big V and A are something like $40-45. Makes a big difference when your like me with 5 add-on phones!


D.A. May 18, 2010 at 12:39 pm

This matrix is worthless since cell phone carrier have their different incentives all over. For instance, ATT has roll over, Sprint has unlimited calling to any mobile plus night and weekends start at 7. ATT & T-Mobile have their refurbish/recertified phones at lower prices. Verizon guarantees to be the most expensive EVER (oh wait that is not an incentive). Uhmm, they have something (I think). Well someone will come up with something.

The sad part is I’m with Verizon and I can’t wait for my contract to expire. And for those who think that Verizon ALLWAYS has better coverage. I am in hotels a lot and the Nextel/Sprint combo seems to get better coverage there. I have had to borrow a Sprint phone to call from a ballroom in Downtown LA (I guess Verizon does not cover that rural and very insignificant area). He had 5 bars, mine had NONE, I had to go 3 floors up and close to a window to get a blinking 1 (it was going from 1 to none) and all the way outside to get 2. Granted not my experience every time but Verizon is not the magical coverage people think it is. Also, I gone through 5 phones at $50 to $100 each. I think Verizon gets the B quality phones since my partner that has the same phone I have (but on Sprint) still in his original one and he treats his like crap (which shows, but it works 100%).

I wish there was a way to compare coverage, price,features, perks, etc.. But I thnk the carriers don’t want that.


Z.C August 13, 2010 at 6:57 am

If you have an IPhone you can tether for free if it is jailbroken, which is a huge plus because if you live in an area where you have good 3G coverage then that would pretty much eliminate the need for paying for an internet service through any local provider.


jake August 30, 2010 at 10:22 am

Why not just get an android phone and dl a tethering app some of them are free and you DON’T Have to jailbreak them!


Jimmy J October 11, 2010 at 9:25 am

This list needs refreshing as it is OLD! Also, it would be nice to add contract lenght to it and the no-contract carriers like: Cricket and MetroPCS (yeah coverage sometimes bites but still an option) maybe a non-contract or prepaid table? In addition, it would be nice to mention, like D.A. said, the incentives (like roll over minutes and any mobile and calling circles since these could add up to much savings). In addition, T-Mobile now has a non-subscription price which is pretty awesome compare to all others. How about activation and termination costs.

Also, is it me or are most tables/comparison trying the hardest not to peeve off Verizon, which by my personal reasearch seems to be the most expensive (even more expensive that AT&T) without ANY doubt. I mean Verizon is the absolute highest price mobile phone plan hands down. I could not come up with a scenario that Verizon is even competitive over the others.


alessandro January 29, 2011 at 9:34 am

I honestly don’t really care how low these networks prices go. Until they can make a reasonable offer to match some of the prices offered by companies like StraightTalk or Net10 i don’t even want to hear it. StraightTalk only charges $45/month for unlimited service, why aren’t they on this list. Even their phones are improving.


Fred Boughton April 14, 2011 at 7:46 am

Why print a artical that is printed so small you can’t read it. Wast of my time.


Jenny Edwards April 18, 2011 at 10:19 am

@Fred Sorry you had trouble reading the article. Were you able to expand it when you clicked on the image?


Gina Kennelly July 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm

When I clicked on the image to expand it just opened another window and the print was harder to read but it was not any bigger than the original.


wholesale cell phone June 7, 2011 at 1:57 am

If you have to shell out an additional $40/month to connect your laptop, a lot of these plans start to sound awful.Even their phones are improving.


cell phones June 28, 2011 at 1:16 am

Thank you for the detailed datas.


Joe Anderson November 22, 2011 at 6:32 pm

These plans are higher and only getting higher. What amazes me the most is how none of the major providers have updated there calling plans with new plans in over 5 years. Wow!


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