Apr 24 AT 4:47 PM Taylor Wimberly 68 Comments

Best no-contract wireless plans for unlocked Android devices


When it comes to no-contract wireless plans, most of the tech world is completely clueless on how the plans operate and what experiences they provide. I won’t claim to be the top expert on the no-contract world, but I haven’t been under the weight of a wireless contract for over a year and I’ve personally tested out a good chuck of service providers including T-Mobile, Straight Talk, Solavei, Simple Mobile, and others. The following is my list of the best no-contract options available for unlocked Android devices.

1. T-Mobile

The basics:

  • Networks: T-Mobile 2G/3G/4G/LTE
  • Plans: Simple Choice plans start at $50. All Simple Choice plans include unlimited talk, text, and data. Pre-paid plans start at $30, and have varying amounts of minutes and data.
  • Data throttle: Basic plans come with 500MB of full-speed data. Additional 2GB is $10 per line, or $20 for unlimited full speed data
  • Tethering: Mobile hot spot is included with Simple Choice plans. First 500MB of data is free and additional data can be added on
  • SIM card fee: Free in-store, $10 if ordered online
  • The good: In-store support, only no-contract service to support LTE on unlocked GSM devices, discounts for multiple lines
  • The not-so-good: LTE coverage is limited to 7 markets, but will cover 100 million by mid-2013 and 200 million by end of year
  • More infoOfficial site

The final word: T-Mobile is easily the best no-contract service for Android devices since they are the only ones to currently support LTE on unlocked GSM devices, and they have in-store support. This is the best choice for most people wishing to go no-contract.

2. Solavei

The basics:

  • Networks: T-Mobile 2G/3G/4G
  • Plans: $49 per month for unlimited talk, text, and data
  • SIM card fee: $9.99 if ordered online, or free is another member gives you a SIM
  • Data throttle: 4 GB of full speed data, throttled to 2G Edge speeds if you exceed monthly limit
  • Tethering: Officially not supported, but still works anyways
  • The good: Only no-contract service that has a monthly compensation plan, good data cap for the price, includes international text, international long distance is optional, phone support available in English or Spanish
  • The not-so-good: Customer support is sometimes questionable, most short codes are not supported, no access to T-Mobile LTE yet, only one plan to choose from
  • More infoOfficial site (referral link)

The final word: Solavei is my current carrier of choice because they offer the most bang for the buck. I normally consume around 2GB of data per month, and their plan saves me $10 per month vs T-Mobile. The compensation plan is nice if you want to share the service with friends, but it’s completely optional. T-Mobile has not provided LTE access to any of their MVNO partners yet, but we hear that it’s coming soon. Others have complained about customer service, but I have only contacted them once in the last six months and I didn’t have a problem.

3. GoSmart Mobile

The basics:

  • Networks: T-Mobile 2G/3G/4G
  • Plans: $45 per month for unlimited talk, text, and high-speed data, $35 per month for unlimited talk, text, and 2G data
  • Data throttle: 5 GB of high-speed data for the $45 plan, unknown data for $35 plan
  • Tethering: Not permitted
  • SIM card fee: $8
  • The good: Lots of data for the price, owned by T-Mobile so customer support should be ok, multiple plans to choose from,  international long distance is optional
  • The not-so-good: International texting is additional $5, no access to T-Mobile LTE yet
  • More infoOfficial site

The final word: GoSmart Mobile just launched a couple months ago, so we have not heard a lot of feedback on them yet. They are owned by T-Mobile, so we expect them to offer reliable service. The plans are very competitive with Solavei, and we could bump GoSmart up to the 2nd spot if we hear good things about their customer service.

4. Red Pocket Mobile


The basics:

  • Networks: AT&T 2G/3G/4G
  • Plans: Start at $19 for 250 mins, goes up to $59 for unlimited talk, text, and data
  • SIM card fee: $9.99
  • Data throttle: Varies from 2 GB to 10 MB.
  • Tethering: Prohibited
  • The good: Access to AT&T’s network, most data available on AT&T with no-contract, option for international calling, multiple plans to choose from, phone support in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Filipino
  • The not-so-good: No option to purchase additional data, no access to AT&T LTE.
  • More infoOfficial site

The final word: Red Pocket is new to this list, since we bumped off Straight Talk for not disclosing their data policy. Not everyone lives in a T-Mobile coverage area, so it’s nice to have a MVNO that operates on AT&T and still provides a couple GB of data. Their top plan with 2 GB of data might not work for the data hog, but it’s better than most no-contract options for AT&T.

5. Net 10 SIM

The basics:

  • Networks: AT&T 2G/3G/4G or T-Mobile 2G/3G/4G
  • Plans: $50 per month for unlimited talk, text, and data. $65 per month for unlimited talk, text, data, and international calling
  • SIM card fee: $9.99 from Net10,$14 for AT&T SIM from Amazon
  • Data throttle: 1.5 GB per month
  • Tethering support: Prohibited
  • The good: Choice of AT&T or T-Mobile network, clearly defined data policy, affordable international calling, $5 monthly discount for enrolling in auto-pay
  • The not-so-good: Data cap is lower than others, extra data is not available for purchase
  • More info: Official site

The final word: Net 10 SIM is owned by TracFone, the same parent company as Straight Talk, but at least they stated that you get 1.5 GB of data. This is not as much data as others offer, but it might be a good fit if you are looking to stay on AT&T’s network.


T-Mobile has really impressed us with their new Simple Choice plans. As long as you live in a T-Mobile service area, you should test them out for a month and see how they perform. Their ability to offer in-store support, tethering, and their access to 4G LTE is unmatched by any other no-contract provider.

If you are willing to forgo LTE for now, which might include a lot of people since T-Mobile’s LTE coverage is limited and only a handful of unlocked devices support T-Mobile LTE, then you can probably save some money on your monthly bill by going with a MVNO (mobile virtual network operator). These resellers will not have the same level of customer service, but that’s what you get if you want to pay less.

Solavei remains a compelling choice if you want to refer your friends and earn a monthly bonus, and we are interested to see how the company grows this year. They claim they are working to offer 4G LTE service soon, and they will also begin to offer other wholesale services that will save their customers money. The compensation plan might be a turn off for some, but at least it is completely optional.

Even though I’m with Solavei now, I have the freedom to switch to whatever service plan comes along with a better offer. I’m currently using the unlocked HTC One Developer Edition, so I am eagerly waiting for T-Mobile to launch LTE around Dallas. It’s nice only paying $50 per month, but I think I might hop on the $70 T-Mobile plan with unlimited data when we get LTE.

I know people are going go complain that I left off Boost, Virgin Mobile and a bunch of other no-contract service providers on CDMA networks, but this list was intended for people who purchased unlocked Android devices that operate on GSM networks. There are plenty of no-contract and pre-paid options for phones that operate on Sprint or Verizon, but we choose not to cover them since they don’t support most unlocked devices.

The list of MVNOs continues to grow at a rapid pace, so look for this list to be updated over the coming months. If you find a better option or have something to say about any of our picks, please share your feedback in the comments below.

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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  • Aren

    I’m in the UK, on PAYG T-Mobile. I haven’t had a contract for several years now. For £10 a month I get “unlimited” texts (never been capped), and about 2gb/month data. When I go over the data limit it’s throttled to basic browsing, no email or youtube, in peak times. At other times it still works fine, even when over the limit. Email, youtube, everything.

    I have no idea how many minutes that gives me, as I don’t use it to make calls.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Jealous of your low prices for data! Hope our prices come down now that unlocked phones are growing in popularity.

      • Cwalden21

        Taylor, I’ve looked through T-mobile’s website and can’t find where their “Pre-paid plans start at $30, and have varying amounts of minutes and data.” can you give a link to where I can find this? All i am seeing is the Simple Choice plans?

  • Max.Steel

    Taylor, stop shilling for Solavei.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      I am a proponent for all no-contract services, but Solavei is what I currently use. Their compensation plan works by referring other members and I have been transparent when posting a referral link. I even go out of my way to post the negative points of the service and I have turned away multiple people when I thought another service might better fit their needs. This is why I made this list – so people could explore different plans and see what works for them.

      • MC_Android

        Any chance you’ll be covering Canadian plans? I still feel that there is no competition in the Canadian phone market

      • reddragonman

        You also listed Solavei below T-Mobile, so I really don’t see a problem. I do have to note that T-Mobile does still have to sort a few things out. I just made the switch, and I went through a bit of a hassle getting the SIM cards. They do charge for in store purchase of SIM cards whether you go prepaid or with their simple choice plans(at least at my store.) On a side note, in addition to the SIM card for prepaid, you also need an activation card. I think this is where my particular store had things a little screwy, since they wanted to charge me an additional $10 for an activation card. I got it sorted out since they also offered a $30 activation card, but the $30 went towards your first month service. The activation process online could also be a little more refined and polished, but I’m hoping they’ll eventually get this all straightened out.

    • Jorge Eslava

      I don’t really get why people hate Solavei so much. It’s just another no contract carrier. If people really just hated them for their compensation program then they should also hate a lot of other companies that do the same thing. Directv is the first one that comes to mind since I’ve made a few bucks with them.

  • mr nobody

    Thanks for this. It seems that a comparison is easier to see when they are put in a chart comparing features, price, etc.

  • Monsunami

    Thanks for the article. Really helpful for people wanting cheaper options or other options than straight talk.

  • J3R3MY_H

    Straight talk is the best value hands down.

    • Ardrid

      Yeah, until you use too much data and they cut you off or cancel your service without warning. No thanks…

  • Ray

    Lightyear wireless is SO MUCH BETTER than Solavei!
    It’s crazy since we run on the Verizon AND Sprint networks!
    T-mo is the factual slowest 4G in the country and moved their support overseas! LYW is HQ in Louisville, KY!
    You call them and a person picks up and handles ALL your needs!
    And with BYOD on the #1 and #3 networks in the country, you can not go wrong! And you can earn FREE! NOT taken out of a check!
    Lightyear Wireless is taking over!!!

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      CDMA = No thanks!

      • epps720

        Taylor why do you say no thanks to CDMA? I currently have Verizon and while I hate their policies and pricing they keep me around for their quality network.

        • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

          I have nothing against CDMA networks, and Verizon has great coverage. It’s just that CDMA based networks do not support unlocked GSM devices. For example, I can’t go buy the new HTC One Developer Edition or LG Nexus 4 and place it on VZW or Sprint. Only devices that were designed to run on those networks are supported, and this limits your choice in devices.

          • epps720

            I may be mistaken but did I see a rumor that a phone (maybe the X phone) may incorporate both radios? Is there a reason why phones just can’t be built to include both radios?

  • Ardrid

    Definitely agree with the list as it relates to the first and second choice. My wife and I used Solavei for about 4 months or so and are now on T-Mobile’s Simple Choice plans. For us, Solavei had a number of downsides:

    1. Customer service, whether online or on the phone, was downright atrocious. Online reps had no qualms with deleting a post or topic that they either didn’t agree with or felt called out Solavei’s failings in some way (like the false advertisement regarding iPhone visual voicemail support).

    2. Solavei offers no type of family plan. We were both paying $55.09 after taxes and fees ($110.18 total) for our service. On T-Mobile, we pay $90 before taxes, fees, and discounts. With my 15% discount ($12), we’re looking at $78 before taxes and fees are added in. I estimate our final bill will be just shy of $90, saving us $20+ each month, exactly enough to cover the new iPhone my wife wants to get while still being cheaper than Solavei.

    3. No support for short codes. All of my banks/credit card companies use short codes for fraud alerts and cash back reminders. I couldn’t find a single one that Solavei supported and customer support couldn’t provide an answer as to why short codes weren’t supported or when they might be in the future. That’s no longer a problem with T-Mobile.

    As I said, for us, T-Mobile just makes more sense. It’s cheaper, has better customer support, support for the features we want/need, and LTE support.

  • gedwards7

    I first started out trying to use net10′s service on my unlocked phone (Samsung Galaxy SII GT-i9100), but I could never get any service with them and their customer service was awful. After two weeks, I just decided to forget about Net10 and switch to GoSmart Mobile.

    I’ve been using GoSmart Mobile for close to a month and I’ve been satisfied with the service for the most part. I was able to go to a local retailer and purchase the sim card and the $45 dollar plan. I pretty much get 2G on a more frequent basis over 3G where I live, that’s the only negative to report on. It’s not too much of an inconvenience since I try to use wifi whenever there’s a nearby hot spot I can use.

    So that’s my 2 cents on using GoSmart, I hope that my experience has be been helpful.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Thanks for the feedback!

    • MaTt

      I think having 2G most of the time would be a deal breaker for many people. I’ve never had LTE so don’t know what I’m missing. My HSPA in Atlanta averages about 3mbps…as low as .1 to a 1 time high of 10. At the Apple store last week, the floor manager showed me his word tests and how fast and immediately everything loaded. His lowest speed test was 25 and he routinely got over 30. Is like all of this, once you’ve seen the newest, you can’t go back. Otherwise people are usually happy of their phone is adequate and does what they need. Millions of iPhone users were more than happy with 3G.. but I bet all the new LTE users would never go back

    • Dan Allen

      Go Smart has been horrible. I use a Samsung S4 and get almost no coverage in Silicon Valley! They cut off tethering and I get dropped calls by the dozen.

  • Kevin

    If anyone wants to try out Solavei without having to pay the $9.99 for the Sim card, check out http://www.simgive.com. We give the sim cards away for free.

  • Joel

    Heading to tmobile in a number of days, and since the Metro merger will be final on May 1st, I cant wait. And I love the new CEO’s style – Hell I dont even remember what Verizon/AT&T leader looks like, coming forward and taking responsibility for past mistakes in one on one interviews – love it.

  • donger

    Haven’t heard of half these carriers. T-mobile is the way to go.

  • Robert Schindler

    I’m a founding member of Solavei and have been using the service since Sept 2012. I have had nothing but positive things to say about the service. I don’t really use short codes so this is not a issue for me. There have been a few customer support issues in the past and while annoying I can understand when you go from a few thousand testers to 180,000 users in just a few months surprises can pop up. For the most part I think the best support is from the direct relationship with your sponsor. I have seen posted that a few members are getting LTE in markets where it has been released. There was also comments that Solavei’s statements of not having LTE by customer support is incorrect.

    I will be in Las Vegas next month and I will test out the LTE on Solavei and report back.

  • Kevin

    I just wanted to add that the problem with these lists is that everyone is different and there really is no one size fits all answer. Reception is local, and whatever network is best by me may not be good at all by you. And then there is usage patterns. People use their smart phones in vary different ways, and what works well for one may be too little or too much for another.

    There are a few universal truths though. GSM is better because it is WAY easier to hop from carrier to carrier to find a good match for you. Anything owned by Carlos Slim will overstate what they really provide (they’ve redifined “unlimited” several times) and will include the world’s worst customer service. The major carriers will almost always be more expensive than the MVNOs that operate on that same network. And some of these MVNOs are just plain good companies. My wife is on Ting, and pretty much everything about them is fantastic (including tremendous customer service), their only real downfall is that they’re on CDMA/Sprint’s network. Taylor, you should check them out, they’re probably the best option for people who live in an area where Sprint’s coverage is good and are light to medium users. I personally use Solavei and it’s been a great experience for me. Its lightning fast and I’ve had 0 issues. On top of that, their forums have a ton of information in them. I’ve never had to speak with customer service so I can’t really share any feedback on that.

    Bottom line though, I would guess somewhere north of 95% of users should NOT be on a major carrier, unless they don’t have a problem wasting money.

  • Ray Kepper

    This is TOTALLY biased! I just re-read this! You are NOT the only no-contract service with a comp plan! You are NOT EVEN the first!
    Lightyear Wireless IS!
    With Lightyear Wireless:
    - NO Contract! NO Credit Check! NO Deposit!
    - NO Throttling! You admit it cost more! AND are throttled!
    - TRUE Unlimited! LYW has cheaper plans (AND earn FREE!) than Sprint & Verizon do!
    - BYOD to our Verizon(#1) & Sprint(#3) networks! (Bring Your Own Device) You can NOT BYOD from ATT to T-Mo as it is against the law & they are getting locked!
    -Thus extremely FAST data speeds!
    - FACT: T-Mo is the slowest 4G in the country!
    - Lightyear Wireless is HQ’d in our 80,000sf building in Louisville, KY NOT overseas! As is our customer support!
    - Solavei’s “comp plan” doesn’t even come close to Lightyear Wireless! I showed one of your reps; who was bragging he made $2500 for a number of “reps” (Not even real reps in your company) who could have made near $100k for his work with LYW! THAT IS REAL!!
    - LYW has a 20 yo parent company & is on the NYSE! We’re here to stay!
    - Founding Members? Now that is funny!
    - CDMA?! Wow! So, you’re saying the #1 carrier AND FASTEST is bad??! LOL

    If you are going to talk like this…get your story & “facts” right! Do NOT mis-lead people! That is why Solavei will not make it as they are full of mis-representation, like their leaders!
    Anyone interested in REAL comp plans AND TRUE Unlimited service?! Let me know!!!

    • David C

      I will say, I was with Lightyear Wireless since before the inception of the actual wireless division in July 2008 and recently walked away. Lightyear does have the agreements with Verizon and Sprint networks. This is fact.

      Now, here is where a comparison can get interesting and the reason I have since stepped away from Lightyear.

      Lightyear (S) – Sprint Network
      $59.99/mo for unlimited talk, text, data on their 3G network
      In my area in northern California, my data speeds were barely 100Kbps – 400Kbps
      One thing I am grateful that Lightyear/Sprint did was allow you to BYOD to the network. This was a huge issue before as you had to buy one of Lightyear’s phones at cost
      To add 4G service to your device, it was another addon of $10/mo, so your bill goes up to $69.99/mo. In order to have an LTE device, the plan required the additional $10/mo, from what I can remember.
      Lightyear (S) did not allow data roaming, even if the $20/mo was paid for the roaming. This was only for Talk and Text
      Added together, Unlimited Talk/Text/Data/Roaming would be $89.99/mo ($59.99 + $10 + $20)
      The same thing on the Sprint Network was only $79.99/mo, though they didn’t offer the You + 3 = Free service

      Lightyear (V) – Verizon Network
      Currently, to get unlimited Talk/Text/Data on the 3G network (4G LTE not available) is $119.99/mo. This is true unlimited on a 3G network and the You + 3 = Free is here as well, and you can BYOD as long as it isn’t an LTE device. Granted, some plans are $49.99, which would give you unlimited talk time, and a little more would give you unlimited talk/text.
      $120/mo for no-contract prepaid is a little steep as you can get a PagePlus account for less than half ($55/mo for Unlimited Talk/Text and 2GB of data) albeit no compensation or referral plan.

      Now, I was with Lightyear Wireless since Nov 2006 until recently, and still talk to the corporate staff on occassion, so don’t think I am or was on overzealous representative of the company or just somebody who was in for a short period of time. I was one of the first on Lightyear Wireless service when launched in 2008 on the Verizon Post Paid plan.

      I believe Lightyear Wireless has a better compensation plan in place in terms of making money as a business venture than Solavei does, I will not dispute this, but there is much more overhead (it’s a business, it has overhead) with Lightyear just to earn the residuals (Web marketing suite is $49.99/mo, great tool, nice compensation attached to it), but just for sharing the services, I believe there is a better route to go for your money.

      Lightyear Business:
      Monthly Web Marketing Suite – $49.99
      Monthly Wireless Bill – $59.99 or $119.99 (Unlimited everything plans, no LTE)
      Total cost per month is $109.98 – $169.98 until 3 customers are referred
      Refer 3 with Lightyear and your phone service is free, but still have $49.99 monthly overhead and the cost to join to be in the company ($49 or $299)
      Lightyear pays a 1 time bounty on Wireless service as well as monthly residuals (1% – 10% depending on personal billing volume, 1%-4% on team volume to 8 compressed levels)

      Monthly Web Site – $0 (replicated site to order/join from)
      Monthly Wireless Bill – $49.00 (Unlimited Talk/Text and first 4 GB of 4G HSPA+ 42 service, then unlimited 2G service)
      Total cost per month is $49 plus any applicable taxes for the wireless service
      For every 3 referred in a trio it is $20 to your pay card. Lose one in the trio and you lose that $20, so maintain multiples of 3 (3, 6, 9, 12, 15, etc).
      Can also get paid when your personal network has multiples of 3 (still the $20 per trio)

      The reason I made the switch isn’t because the money to make would be more, but because for the average person, if they already had an AT&T phone or T-Mobile phone, they could just bring it over, if unlocked, or take it to the carrier to have it unlocked, and could save a chunk of money by not having to purchase a new phone. $49/mo price point seemed to be a better deal for faster data service. I have screenshots of my phone, on the data network (not wifi) of up to 14 Mbps. I also have family/friends overseas due to military, and I can text them whenever I like.

      This is as factual as I can be about Lightyear, though I have not kept up with what they have been doing as of late, so please correct anything that is incorrect regarding Lightyear service (both S and V).

      Unlocking is not an issue if done by the carrier, so this is not a problem.

      I also remember seeing a video that Ron Mattingly (Corporate VP with Lightyear) showing off the blazing fast data speeds of the V service. I wouldn’t say that 1.99 Mbps download is blazing fast, especially for $119.99/mo.

      How long have you been with Lightyear?

  • Michael

    Do avoid the Solavie/Lightyear flame war (which I must say has dropped into juvenile territory) , I will suggest people check out Platnum Tel. (ptel.com). They are a T-Mobiel MVNO which has given me a good experience. I would have stayed with Virgin Mobile USA if they had a way for me to hook up my Nexus but alas, that is one of the downsides of CDMA.

  • http://about.me/LuisOTorres taz88ny

    I use Solavei at the moment and I’m mostly happy with them. Their unexplained network outage a couple of months ago was a big deal, but it’s not like it’s happening all the time.

    I do wish more companies had plans like Ting though. The companies that offer plan options go from 250 minutes and unlimited texts to unlimited everything. I rarely make calls, so having a plan with around 400-500 minutes would be perfect.

    Maybe I’ll try T-Mobile next.

  • Kevin


    Can you point me to a site that explains everything about Lightyear in text? Their webpage is mostly videos and I like to see things in writing. I’m curious to know more about them.

    Personally, I think the Solavei/Lightyear which is better conversation is pointless. Different things work for different people. There are 50+ companies providing cellular/data service in the US. There is room for all of them as people’s needs vary greatly.


    • Ray

      Sure or email me too at [email protected]
      rtkepper at yahoo dot com
      I will send you info and/or talk to you!

  • Matthew

    I guess these are for the US only? Is anyone willing to write about their experience in their own countries? I would really appreciate it :)

  • Kevin


    Does Lightyear even offer LTE coverage? I doubt they do on Verizon (as I’m pretty sure Verizon does not resell their LTE service at all). Maybe they do on Sprint, but that LTE network is also very new and not everywhere yet. In terms of 3G network speeds, both Verizon and Sprint are way behind T-Mo and AT&T’s HSPA+.

    I’m curious to learn more about Lightyear, but you’re behaving like a troll and its turning me off. Try interjecting some balance into your perspective please.


    • David C


      I explained a little bit about Lightyear a few posts up if you would like to read about it. I was with Lightyear for a long time (Since Nov 2006), so I hope it is an unbiased post. I am not with Lightyear any longer, but I do hope it helps.

  • Kevin

    I’ve read the “laws”. My phone is an unlocked Nexus 4 and not subject to those laws. BTW, doesn’t this impact Lightyear too? Verizon and Sprint lock phones too you know.

  • irishrally

    A fair and balanced review of no contract plans. Good work ;)

  • Megan

    Does anyone have any experience with the following AT&T MVNOs: Good2Go, PureTalk, or H20? They all look like they have similar plans as Red Pocket.

  • Jeff

    I’m confused, you state “Simple Choice plans start at $50, Pre-paid plans start at $30. All plans include unlimited talk, text, and data”
    which is completely false! The $30 plan only offers 100 minutes of talk! If it had unlimited talk included it’d be a no brainer.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      You are correct. The $30 pre-paid plans includes 100 mins, unlimited text, and 5GB data. I updated that line to be more clear.

  • James

    Seems like you really turned on StraightTalk but if you use 2gb and don’t need LTE ( which currently isn’t available to many) its fine. I’ve been on them since Nov and have had no problems. Outsourced Phillipines reps on script is same as I used to have on T-Mobile prepaid. Sounds like Solavei is better for those who need more data. I’d even consider switching but I wish all these carriers wouldn’t charge for Sim cards. My ST was free with an easily found coupon code. I don’t know anyone who’s even heard of Solavei, but if they’d make it easy to switch, I’d give then a chance. It doors seem (+it makes sense) that Magenta will keep LTE for themselves right now. I’m still using a Galaxy Nexus (which Google sent me for free after I emailed Andy about my horrific Android experience)

    • Kevin


      If you want to try out Solavei without paying for a sim card, check out http://www.simgive.com. We give away Solavei sim cards for free. The $9.99 is outrageous and they sell them much cheaper in bulk, so I bought a bunch and will mail them to you for free.

      As for comparison between Solavei and Straight Talk, besides the data differences you mentioned, there are two other differences. One, you can roam on AT&T’s towers for free on Solavei, but you can’t roam at all on Straight Talk. Two, you can use wireless hotspotting on Solavei, but you can’t on Straight Talk without violating their terms of service.

      I agree with you that for many people, Straight Talk is a good alternative, especially since it’s $4 cheaper. There are over 50 different networks and MVNOs in the US, so different ones suit different people best.

      Good luck!

  • Jami

    I never understand how people use 2G/Edge and say it’s unlimited data. Whenever I’ve been in that situation, I haven’t even been able to connect to Gmail or open up any webpage or use GPS … it’s been a brick

  • MaTt

    What are short codes? Seems most of these mvno always have asterisks.. That’s how you get lower prices.. Support usually sucks, but the ineffective and ride T-Mobile support made me leave. Do the new T-Mobile Simple plans still charge all those miscellaneous fees that often added 20% to the price or are they like most of the prepaid plans where you usually only pay a buck for sales tax and don’t j have access fees or 911 fees or connection fees and all those other miscellaneous charges

  • tech7

    I’ve been using the $45 a month GoSmart Mobile plan with my Nexus 4 for about two weeks and I’ve been pretty happy with the service. The 3G speed is throttled to about 910kbps down (it’s pretty consistent…rarely do I see speed fluctuations) and I was a little worried (since it’s prepaid there was no real harm in trying it out) that it would be slow. Surprisingly enough, I’ve found it to be quite usable. The only issues I’ve run into are loading up some really heavy webpages and HQ youtube.

    I haven’t had the need to call their customer service so I can’t comment on that.

  • Gary

    Taylor – wonderful clear and informative articles that have helped me in understanding no-contract services. Will be leaving Sprint soon and now deciding what phone and service I will try first. Would appreciate any input that can help me on this. I live in NYC area.

    Phone – Right now I would like to get unlocked HTC One (maybe Developers Edition) but have been unable to confirm if it will support T-Mobile HSPA (1700).

    Taylor, does the Dev. Edition One support 1700 band for HSPA and thanks.

    Hesitate buying HTC One from T-Mobile because of their strange unlock policies that might make for a good article or post.

    Service – Probably either T-Mobile or Solavei. Would go with GoSmart Mobile but there is no auto refill option to my knowledge which is problematic for me.

    Again, very informative and thanks.

    • tech7

      The HTC ONE Developer Edition does not support AWS. If you click on the features tab, it tells you what frequencies it supports – http://www3-shopamerica.htc.com/cell-phones/productdetail.htm?prId=41599#

      I don’t know understand why HTC did not use the T-mobile version as the Dev Ed. since some of their T-mobile phones are quad-band HSPA (850, 1700, 1900 and 2100).

  • Gary

    Thanks for that link and info. Wish it did support AWS.

  • marco

    I work at a store that carries Net10. From what I understand, if you choose the Tmobile SIM card it’s “unlimited” with 5gb throttling. Only the AT&T SIM is limited to 1.5gb

  • allthingsn

    In the UK in my opinion Giffgaff is a good, if not the best, option. For £12 you get 200 something minutes, 200 something texts (I think the number is 250 but who cares, you want the data) and truly unlimited data. It runs on the o2 network and is definitely fast. I can call and text my girflriend for free as well since she is on giffgaff as well. one other option is lyca mobile, believe they might be even cheaper but I like the community of giffgaff and thought I would stay there.

  • Jacob

    What do you all recommend to someone who lives in Harrison, AR 72601. The only providers here are Verizon and AT&T. I really want to go pre-paid, but the only options seem to be straight talk (which you can’t find a sim card for at&t anyways) and Net 10 (only allowed 1.5gb of data a month). Is there any other options worth while?


    • Kevin


      It really depends on your usage, but there are many other options on AT&T and Verizon than those you listed. How many minutes, texts, and how much data do you use?

      • Jacob

        Thanks for replying! I am currently on at&t. I use about 415 minutes (includes mobile to mobile), 2,600 in texting, and 2.5-3gb of data each month. It says we have T-mobile in 72601 area code, but it looks pretty limited. I was wanting to get the Nexus 4 and switch to a pre paid plan, but like i was saying earlier, straight talk is unreliable because of there undefined data cap and how they can drop a customer for any reason. I know there is a new at&t pre paid service called AIO, but it’s service is currently available in Houston, Orlando, and Tampa only…I pretty much need a pre paid plan that works on verizon or at&t because that is all that is around here at the moment.

        Any ideas or comments would help out a lot!

  • Kevin


    I ran your zipcode through both cellreception.com and rootmetrics.com. From what I can tell with rootmetrics maps, you’re limited to just AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, and their coverage doesn’t look all that great (for any of them!). Cellreception has T-mobile as the highest rated coverage, with AT&T second and Verizon in last place. I checked on Solavei’s (a T-mobile MVNO) coverage and they say that can’t cover that zipcode, which means T-mobile’s coverage might not be good. Its tough to say really. There are a few MVNOs that have free roaming, so one of those that uses AT&T or Tmobile with free roaming on the other would be a good idea, given your geographic circumstance.

    If you want to take a chance with T-mobile coverage, you could try out GoSmart Mobile. They have a plan for $45, includes unlimited minutes and texts and 5 GB of data. Would work well with the Nexus 4. They also have free roaming, so you could probably utilize AT&T’s towers when needed.

    Your next best option for a Nexus 4 is AT&T. They have a plan for $89.99 that has 450 minutes, unlimited texts, and 3GB of data. Its a bit pricier though. AIO will go national in June, and that would be cheaper and use AT&T’s towers too.

    My advice, get a Nexus 4 and try out GoSmart Mobile for a month. Its no contract, so if it isn’t getting the job done, AIO will be up by the end of your first month and you can just swap SIM cards and move over.

    Also, highly recommend porting your main number to Google Voice if you haven’t already. It makes hopping around on prepaid much easier (you’ll never have to port again).

    Good luck! If you want to let me know how it goes, drop me a line at [email protected].


    • Jacob

      Awesome Kevin,

      Thanks for the tips! I will try out GoSmart Mobile for a month and see how it goes! Absolutely NO ONE I have met here has T-mobile, just because it is so new i assume, so this will be very interesting. I was trying to find out about when AIO was supposed to go national. How did you figure out it was going national in June? And I will drop you a line at your email and let you know how it goes!

      Once again thanks man!

  • tottyrice

    does anyone know what’s the best prepaid carrier that uses sprint towers? or at least top 3? bc i just got a sprint HTC one off of craigslist and want to try out prepaid, thanks.

  • Mike Bandy

    It’s quite simple: Thank you.

  • Annie

    Do you have any recommendations for keeping one’s same number when switching between SIMS in different country? I’ll be using a different SIM while I’m abroad for a few months and I’d like to be able to still use my US number when I come back. Thanks!

  • Grayson

    This used to be updated monthly. Any reason it stopped?

  • George Morris

    PURPOSES? IF YES: CONTACT US VIA [email protected]

    Name: ===
    Amount needed: ===
    Length: ==
    country ===
    Purpose: ===
    Mobile number: ==

  • Allen

    First of all, Taylor, thank you so much for these great articles. I really liked this one, and I have benefited from your “Best unlocked android phone for any budget” articles…in fact, I wish they were still being updated.

    I wanted to post the update that both Straight Talk and Net10 have AT&T sims available again, and that they now include LTE! Most importantly, the data cap has changed…you’re allowed 2.5 GB at high speed, and then after that you’re throttled (as opposed to capped as you were in the past).

    Hope this helps someone!

  • Scott Raley

    Red Pocket Is Data Throttling There Customers Slow Speed.

    Charging people 59.99 for 3GB Data then not allowing the customer to go above 0.12 K/B’s in download speed. Unfair practice for customers who PrePaid the entire month prior expecting to get 3GB of Data instead Red Pocket is Throttling the customers.

    All Android and Iphone on ALL IOS will be expericning the issue of Data Throttle Slow Internet Speed. Straight Talk does the same thing. AT&T Has a major Lawsuit for the same thing now Red Pocket is lining up for failure as well.

    If you too want to make sure your not getting Data Throttled Just Download the Speed Test App In Your App Store on your phone and start a Speed Test it’s FREE.

    If You want to get a hold of me during this investigation contact [email protected] http://i.imgur.com/KBuAHI0.jpg/IMG

    http://youtu.be/4WGLuf9UlJg Red Pocket Data Throttle!

  • David O. Uglem

    I will bookmark this for sure! Thank you for your TIME . Dave

  • Steven

    I have been using Straight Talk unlimited plan for a while now. I started their service with one of their SIM cards and a new Android phone I bought at http://www.flumongu7s.com . I have absolutely no complaints. I have saved a considerable amount of money without any loss of service.

  • Sharon

    I’ve been using red pocket mobile on locked ATT blackberry and Nexus 4. I use their $30 unlimited talk and text plan for each, since being done with ATT contract since November. I don’t need data most of the time, since I have wifi at work and home. Will add their data on occasion for city outings (need gps & such). Customer service has been fine. It’s on ATT gophone network, so will work fine in urban tri-state area of NY, but not so good in the White Mountains of NH.

  • Jorge Marte

    I have been looking for comparisons of net10,Red pocket and H2o and you make no mention of H2o even though I am mostly interested in a family plan and the only who provides that is Net10 I am on the AT&T networks which is the provider with better coverage here in Puerto Rico and would like to keep it .