Oct 31 AT 12:38 PM Taylor Wimberly 174 Comments

Top 4 US pre-paid wireless plans for the Nexus 4

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Regular readers of the site will know that we are huge fans of pre-paid wireless service, and the recent launch of the Nexus 4 has brought a new level of attention for these cheaper plans. We recently covered the best pre-paid plans for Android phones, but we thought the guide should be updated from a Nexus point of view. Read on for our top picks and let us know which service provider you plan on using.

The Nexus 4 is sold unlocked and is GSM/HSPA+ compatible so it will operate on more than 200 network providers worldwide, including AT&T and T-Mobile in the US. The Nexus 4 supports networks up to 4G HSPA+ 42Mbps, which happens to be offered by T-Mobile, the official Nexus 4 launch partner. AT&T’s 4G HSPA+ network only supports max speeds of 21 Mbps.

1. T-Mobile Monthly 4G

Summary: T-Mobile Monthly 4G is our top pick since they offer the cheapest pre-paid plans. Their basic $30 plan includes up to 5GB of full-speed 4G HSPA+ data, but it is only limited to 100 minutes talk time. Many people grab this cheap plan and then use Groove IP to place VOIP calls and save their minutes.

Network: T-Mobile 4G HSPA+ 42 Mbps

Plans: $30 for 100 minutes, unlimited text, and data (throttled after 5 GB). $60 for unlimited talk, text, and data (throttled after 2 GB). $70 for unlimited talk, text, and data (throttled after 5 GB).

SIM card fee: $0.99

The good: Cheapest prices. Defined data policy. Multiple plans to choose from. In-store support.

The not-so-good: Does not support conditional call forwarding. You might need to disable your T-Mobile voicemail if you want to use Google Voice voicemail on a carrier number.

More infoOfficial site

2. Solavei

Summary: If you have a lot of friends and family or you are active on social networks, then you might want to explore Solavei. It only offers a single $49 plan, but it includes unlimited talk, text, and full speed HSPA+ data that is throttled after 4 GB. For people that need more calling minutes, Solavei’s $49 plan is a better deal than the $60 T-Mobile Monthly 4G plan that only includes 2GB of full speed data. Solavei is unique because they pay you to refer your friends. Read my hands-on experience for a closer look at Solavei.

Network: T-Mobile 4G HSPA+ 42 Mbps

Plans: $49 per month:  Unlimited talk, text, and data (throttled after 4 GB)

SIM card fee: $9

The good: Clearly defined data policy. Supports conditional call forwarding. Pays you a monthly bonus for customers you refer.

The not-so-good: Only T-Mobile compatible phones will see full 4G HSPA+ speeds, but this will improve as T-Mobile upgrades their network to support 1900 MHz in their top 50 markets by end of 2012.

More infoOfficial site (referral link)

3. Straight Talk

Summary: Straight Talk has become very popular since it lets you choose to get a SIM card compatible with AT&T or T-Mobile. In our last round up we listed them as our top choice, but it was mainly because they support AT&T phones. The Nexus 4 can operate on any GSM network, and we prefer T-Mobile for their faster data speeds. The major downside to Straight Talk is they do not have a clearly defined data policy. Some users have reported consuming 8 GB of data in a month while others say they were throttled after 2 GB.

Networks: T-Mobile 4G HSPA+ 42 Mbps, AT&T 4G HSPA+ 21 Mbps

Plan: $45 per month:  Unlimited talk, text, and data.

SIM card fee: $9.99-14.99

The good: Choice of AT&T or T-Mobile’s network.

The not-so-good: Data policy is not clearly defined. You will get a warning if you go over an imaginary data limit, which can differ from market to market.

More infoOfficial site

4. Simple Mobile

Summary: Simple Mobile recently lowered their top tier unlimited plan from $60 down to $50. It is now competitive with Solavei or Straight Talk, but Simple Mobile doesn’t really offer anything unique. They also have an undefined data policy and you could be throttled any time they think you are abusing their service.

Networks: T-Mobile 4G HSPA+ 42 Mbps

Plans: $40 per month:  Unlimited talk, text, and data (3G speeds). $50 per month:  Unlimited talk, text, and data (4G speeds).

SIM card fee: $12.99

The good: Multiple plan options.

The not-so-good: Data policy is not clearly defined. Only T-Mobile compatible phones will see full 4G HSPA+ speeds, but this will improve as T-Mobile upgrades their network to support 1900 MHz in their top 50 markets by end of 2012.

More infoOfficial site

Final Words and Advice

The great thing about buying the Nexus 4 is you have a lot of choices for pre-paid wireless service. All of these plans we listed come with no long term commitments or contracts, so you can try several of them out and see what works best for you.

We suggest pre-paid service on T-Mobile since they offer the fastest HSPA+ speeds, but some people might get better coverage from AT&T in their local area. Check out Open Signal Maps for a preview of who has the best coverage in your area.

As always, be sure to leave a comment if you have any questions. There are a lot of pre-paid fans in the audience and they will be happy to help you out.

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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