AT&T’s powerful unlimited plans are great for those who are willing to spend a lot. For everyone else, there’s Tello.
Tello vs. AT&T Wireless Review
AT&T is a huge cell phone company (it’s one of the “Big Three”) that offers tons of data, fast speeds, and some really amazing family plan deals. Tello Mobile is a relative newcomer on the scene that’s trying to win customers over with super-cheap, lower-data plans.
Which cell phone carrier is best for you, Tello or AT&T? You’ll have to make that decision, but we can help you figure it out. Read on for all the details about AT&T vs. Tello’s plans, pricing, coverage, and more.
Tello vs. AT&T unlimited data plans
No one wants to be counting every text they send or every MB of data they use. This is why we have unlimited talk, text, and data plans. But not all unlimited plans are created equal, as we’ll see in this review of AT&T and Tello’s offerings.
While Tello’s low-priced unlimited plan is a great deal, it is not really unlimited. In fact, it only gives you 35 GB of high-speed data. Meanwhile, AT&T’s unlimited data plans offer much more but have a steeper price tag. Let’s dive into the details, beginning with Tello.
Tello’s unlimited data plan
With Tello you can score unlimited talk, text, and data for just $25 a month. That’s among the cheapest unlimited plans on the market. It’s certainly a lot cheaper than going straight to T-Mobile (the T-Mobile Essential’s plan costs a whopping $60 a month!).
But there’s one big catch: after you use 35 GB of data, your speeds will be throttled significantly to 128 Kbps speeds. Trying to scroll through TikTok at that speed will feel like trying to play Fortnite on a dial-up modem. Not ideal.
It’s also worth noting that this plan doesn’t come with any special perks, like free subscriptions or extra mobile hotspot data. So, for those who want super-fast data speeds and higher-performance overall, AT&T is probably the way to go.
AT&T unlimited data plans
AT&T actually has four unlimited data plans, ranging in price from $51 to $86 a month. Each of these plans comes with unlimited talk, text, and data, but they all have different data caps and perks. Here’s a quick preview before we talk about the specifics.
Here’s the breakdown of AT&T’s unlimited data plans.
- Value Plus: This affordable plan has a few clear drawbacks. For one, your data can be slowed down (or deprioritized) at any time by AT&T. So expect slower data speeds when the network is busy. You’ll get no mobile hotspot data. Also, you cannot add additional lines to this plan to get a family plan discount.
- Unlimited Starter: With this plan your data speeds can also be deprioritized at any time, but you do get mobile hotspot data (at 3G speeds) and you can add additional lines.
- Unlimited Extra: The Unlimited Extra plan gives you a full 50 GB of 4G or 5G data before you’ll see any slowdowns. You can use up to 50 GB of mobile hotspot data and you’ll get 6 Months of Stadia Pro Pass for free.
- Unlimited Premium: This plan comes with truly unlimited high-speed data. That means no throttling, slowdowns, or data caps. Plus you’ll get 50 GB of hotspot data and 6 Months of Stadia Pro Pass for free.
That was a lot to go over. The TL;DR version is this: AT&T’s plans cost more than Tello’s, but they offer way more high speed and data and extra perks.
Tello vs. AT&T limited data plans
AT&T and Tello have plans for those who have somehow managed to not become addicted to their phones and who don’t need (or want) unlimited data. In general, we’re more impressed with Tello’s selection and pricing for limited data plans, but some users may prefer AT&T’s network.
Tello’s limited data plans
Because of Tello's mix-and-match system, there are a bunch of plans from Tello besides its unlimited plan, ranging from a $5/month talk and text plan to a $25/month unlimited plan with 35 GB of high-speed data. Take a look at all of the options in this WhistleOut chart.
That may be a lot to take in, but we appreciate the variety that Tello offers. There’s a plan for everyone here, from your nana who’s never sent a text message in her life, to your teenage kid who needs a little data (but not too much) to keep up with their friends.
AT&T’s limited data plans
AT&T doesn’t have quite so many limited data plans, and those that it does have are pricier. Here’s a quick peek at the options.
As you can see, the cheapest plan that AT&T offers is $33 a month, which is more than three times as much as Tello’s cheapest plan! That said, it does give you unlimited talk and text, plus 8GB of data.
In short, AT&T’s plan structure just makes less sense for those who don’t want unlimited data.
Tello vs. AT&T family plans
Bundling up in a family plan is one of the best and easiest ways to save money on your phone bill. We encourage everyone to share a plan with their kids, spouses, uncles, aunts, college roommates, co-workers, or whoever else is around.
Sadly, Tello doesn’t really do family plans. Sure, you can add extra lines to your account, but you won’t see any extra perks or cost savings. Meanwhile, AT&T customers will see awesome rewards to going with a multi-line plan.
For example, AT&T’s Unlimited Extra plan costs $75.99 a month for a single line, which is getting up there in terms of price. But, if you get four lines of Unlimited Extra, it’s just $164 a month, or $40.99 per line. That’s a whopping $36 that you save every month, per line!
When you consider AT&T’s steep family plan discounts, their plans aren’t actually that much pricier than Tello’s, while offering far more in terms of data, performance, and perks.
Tello vs. AT&T coverage
Tello and AT&T both have relatively good coverage and fast data speeds. But there is a difference between the two, especially in certain, more rural areas.
Tello is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), which means that it actually doesn’t operate its own mobile network. Instead, it leases bandwidth from T-Mobile. While T-Mobile doesn’t have the best 4G coverage in the country, it does have more 5G infrastructure than any other network.
You can see how strong T-Mobile’s coverage is in your area using this interactive map.
AT&T can’t match T-Mobile’s 5G network, but its overall 4G LTE coverage is generally a bit better than T-Mobile in rural areas (though Verizon is the best for rural coverage). Take a look at this coverage map to see how it stacks up.
Tello vs. AT&T customer service
Let’s be real, cell phone companies aren’t known for their amazing customer service. But some companies are better than others at responding to customers’ questions and concerns.
Of the major three carriers, AT&T actually has the highest ranking in the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s most recent Wireless Phone Service and Cell Phone Study1. In our own experience with AT&T, we’ve had a relatively easy time reaching a real, living human being on the phone who helped us solve our problem.
Tello is a much smaller company than AT&T, which means it has fewer resources to devote to customer service. That said, Tello gets a 4.5/5-star rating from Trust Pilot2 and most customers online have small complaints about billing or outages that are relatively easy to solve.
Recap: Which is the best cell phone provider?
So what’s our final call in this AT&T vs. Tello review? Essentially: AT&T offers more data and performance, but it costs a lot more. Tello has great budget plans for those who don’t need a ton of data. Here’s a little recap for those who want a refresher.
- Unlimited plans: AT&T wins. AT&T’s plans cost a lot more than Tello’s, but they offer way more high-speed, unthrottled data. So if you game, scroll, Zoom, browse, post, or stream on your phone a lot, AT&T is probably better for you.
- Limited data plans: Tello wins. Tello has a bunch of cheap and simple limited data plans to fit anyone’s budget and use-needs. Meanwhile, AT&T’s limited-data plans are few and a little overpriced.
- Family plans: AT&T wins. You can get a steep discount on your AT&T unlimited plan when you bundle up with other members of your family. Sadly, Tello doesn’t offer any family plan discounts at all.
- Coverage: Tie. Tello’s T-Mobile-run network has great 5G infrastructure for super fast data speeds, but AT&T’s network has better nationwide coverage in many more rural areas.
- Customer service: AT&T wins. AT&T’s customer service is surprisingly good. Tello doesn’t have any major problems with customer service, but it’s a smaller company with fewer resources to devote to picking up the phone and solving issues.