AT&T Cell Phone Plans Review
Rated as one of the best for coverage, reliability, and speed,1,2 AT&T’s major downside lies in its higher-than-average pricing, which includes expensive one-time activation fees for each device.
For budget-minded folks (probably like yourself), AT&T can hook you up with some solid TV perks alongside its wireless plan. Just don’t forget to sign up for autopay and paperless billing.
AT&T unlimited plans
AT&T’s unlimited plans won’t cut off or charge you for going over a limit, but it might throttle your speed.
Unlimited plans from AT&T are perfect for streaming junkies who like to watch hilarious YouTube cringe compilations or ragey political Facebook videos on the go. You’ll never face overage charges from data consumption, and your streaming quality will depend on which plan you choose:
- Unlimited &More offers SD-quality streaming
- Unlimited &More Premium offers HD-quality streaming
What’s the difference between SD and HD streaming?
Here are the details for your AT&T unlimited options:
AT&T Unlimited prices and plans
With both AT&T Unlimited plans, the included Watch TV app gets you 30+ live channels. Just be aware that you don’t get ESPN or your local channels for free. (That would’ve been nice, right?)
As far as data throttling is concerned, you’ve got about 22 GB of data before you start experiencing slower speeds. To put that in context, one episode of Game of Thrones spends about a gig of data. So as long as you aren’t binge-watching too much on the go, your speeds should stay pretty quick.
How AT&T unlimited plan prices compare
AT&T is easily on the more expensive side of the price spectrum. It’s only a few dollars less expensive than Verizon, which just so happens to be one of the best wireless providers around. On the bright side, AT&T doesn’t fall too far behind Verizon1,2 in terms of service and speed.3
So, you’re saving a few bucks at the expense of less coverage. If you live somewhere rural, the trade-off probably wouldn’t be worth it, but if you live somewhere with a larger population, AT&T should work just fine.
So if you’re into sports, you can think of it this way: If Verizon is LeBron James, AT&T is more of a Stephen Curry. It’s cheaper, not quite as good, but still better than everybody else.
AT&T family plans
AT&T family plans give you some serious bang for your buck. The above prices you see are based on a three-line family plan. Now compare what you see to the individual unlimited plans. Yeah, family plans really are where it’s at.
Each additional line you add to your family plan costs almost half as much as a stand-alone AT&T unlimited plan. If you’re thinking of signing up for AT&T, call up your sister, your uncle, or your in-laws and convince them to join in on the family.
How big can my family get?
Are you wondering what family plans look like with other providers? Good. You should be. Let’s take a look.
AT&T family plans comparison
AT&T family plans follow the trend we’ve seen up to this point—more on the expensive side, but not the most expensive option out there. You can certainly get a cheaper family plan with providers like Sprint and Metro by T-Mobile, but you won’t enjoy the same level of coverage and perks that you would get with AT&T.1
Overall, AT&T family plans are certainly a bargain for what you get.
AT&T prepaid plans
You’ve got some pretty tantalizing options for AT&T prepaid plans. Your options range from limited data plans to unlimited data with HD streaming. Are you the type of person who occasionally checks Twitter for sports highlights or do you plan on regularly streaming shows?
We’d recommend looking for something in the middle that fits your data demands but doesn’t break the bank. By going with a prepaid plan with AT&T, you’re actually saving yourself a good chunk of change.
AT&T prepaid plans comparison
To the surprise of probably nobody (at this point in the article, anyway) AT&T falls right in the middle of prepaid plans as a whole. If you’re a middle-of-the-road kind of shopper who doesn’t want to pay for the most expensive option (Verizon) but doesn’t want to settle, either, AT&T fits the bill quite nicely.
AT&T cell phones and devices
Get the phone you want from AT&T. Every. Single. Year.
Which phone calls your name: Apple iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy S9+, or the ZTE Axon M Smartphone? (And yes, Google Pixels work with AT&T—you just can’t buy or lease them directly through AT&T).
With AT&T, you won’t be lacking in choices, unless you’re collecting more obscure bricks or flip-phones from the early 2000s. If you’re really curious what works with AT&T’s Bring Your Own Phone program, you can scope out AT&T’s phone compatibility check.
Which top phones does AT&T have?*
- iPhone X
- iPhone XS
- iPhone XR
- iPhone 8/8 Plus
- iPhone 7/7 Plus
- Galaxy S9/S9+
- Galaxy S8/S8+
* Not all phones listed here
Regardless of whether you’re purchasing a device with an installment agreement, buying a device at full price, or bringing your own device, plan on paying an equipment charges fee—which is wack, if you ask us. Why should you pay to keep the phone you already have?
Sadly, extra fees are a trend with AT&T. It’s like fee-Oprah. Signing up for a new plan? You get a fee! Getting a new phone? You get a fee! Thankfully, fees are a one-time thing and don’t affect your monthly payment, but it’s still annoying.
AT&T’s coverage and speeds cover what you need
AT&T has solid coverage across the country (and 120+ other countries), but you’ll want to check out the areas that matter to you.
Courtesy of ATTsavings.com
AT&T has more-than-solid coverage
According to studies, AT&T has exceptional texting delivery speeds and reliability but is just behind Verizon in most other categories.1 If you’re coming from Sprint or T-Mobile, you’ll likely see an improvement in performance by switching to AT&T. If you’re coming from Verizon, you’ll probably get about the same performance, but maybe better or worse, depending on where you live.
Estimate where you live in the map above and make sure it looks super orange. If you see some white spots in your area, your coverage could get weak.
Speed-wise, AT&T isn’t quite as fast as Verizon or T-Mobile. However, AT&T was “the only carrier to record speeds of at least 10 Mbps in each of the 125 metro areas” tested—meaning that if you want consistency in every major city, AT&T’s a safe bet.
What’s up with AT&T customer service?
You can get ahold of AT&T pretty easily, but that doesn’t make it all easy.
We’d like to point out that AT&T (like all the major wireless providers) doesn’t rank well with customers.4 It’s them, not you—we swear.
Like any relationship, your relationship with AT&T is all about clear communication. Where we see most problems arising is lack of clarity in the bill, so make sure you know what you’re getting into, and all will be good.
Some human interaction required for prepaid users
Recap: AT&T’s good for most, but best for TV fans looking to save money
If you’re thinking about starting a new plan with AT&T, keep these things in mind.
- Plans: AT&T’s unlimited plans are the way to go if you want to save money on TV subscriptions, but AT&T’s prepaid plans may be cheaper if you don’t.
- Coverage: AT&T trails only behind Verizon, and not by much.
- Speed: AT&T’s speed isn’t the fastest, but it is faster than 10 Mbps in all major metro areas, which other providers can’t say.
- Customer service: AT&T is similar to the other big carriers in every other way—we’d appreciate clearer, simpler pricing. Other than billing, we don’t expect many problems.
- Overall: If you’re a DIRECTV, DIRECTV NOW, or AT&T U-Verse customer, and you want solid coverage, consistent speeds, and the option to get any major phone, AT&T is a great (but pricey) choice.
- RootMetrics, “Mobile Performance in the US Part 1: Performance across the Entire US – 2H 2017”
- OpenSignal, “The 4G Battle Continues between T-Mobile and Verizon”
- Speedtest, “United States”
- Consumer Affairs, “AT&T Wireless”