How We Test Cell Phone Plans

As you can imagine, we do a lot of recommending here on, so what gives us the right to choose the best cell phone plans? In all honesty, we can’t test every single cell phone plan out there before making a solid recommendation—there are just too many.

Here’s what we do instead and why we’re confident in that approach.

We have cell phone plans with every major provider

We have at least one cell phone plan from every major network and at least one mobile network virtual operator (MVNO) active at a time. We regularly use and test these phone plans to get a general idea of performance on every major network.

For example, one of our major goals with our cell phone plan testing is to discover how much deprioritization affects MVNO providers. To test this, we go to crowded areas (like In-N-Out Burger at lunch time) and compare performance on our MVNO cell phone plans versus our major network cell phone plans.

From firsthand experience with cell phone plans from major cell phone carriers and MVNO carriers, we get an accurate picture of the user experience.

We do a lot of research

We stay up to date with the latest announcements, updates, and user discussion around cell phone plans in general.

We use tools to compare cell phone plans and find the best options for different situations. WhistleOut, for example, develops tools that allow users to compare cell phone plans against each other. We use their tools to stack pricing, data allotments, coverage, and perks against each other to recommend the best cell phone plans.

From that bird’s-eye snapshot, we get more granular by researching specific plans on provider websites and sussing out the most essential features and information.