Your wireless carriers are doing better, and we have the numbers to prove it

how to switch phone carriers
People hate their wireless carriers, yet we put up with them anyway. Alongside death, taxes, and the Star Wars prequels, wireless carriers are something we must accept. While they’re trying to repent their ways with new plans, deals, and enticing features, carriers in America are still capable of displeasing their customers. But if you look at wireless companies in other countries, and the actions of our carriers from a few years ago, you start to realize something: U.S. carriers are charging less than they were before, and they’re more in line with their European and Asian counterparts.

So, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon; listen up. You’ve got a relatively good thing going now, but we know you can still do better.

U.S. carrier plans are more reasonably priced

Apple-Intends-to-Crush-CarriersIt shouldn’t cost more than $100 a month to own a smartphone, and it shouldn’t cost up to $70 a month for a basic phone either.

The price for wireless service anywhere still varies greatly due to a number of reasons, but let’s start with something simple that should be pretty inexpensive: A smartphone plan with a few gigabytes of data, a lot of minutes, and unlimited messaging. This is a wireless plan that’s pretty typical with all the necessities covered whether you love your iPhone or your Galaxy S8.

If you’re in America, you can choose between any of the Big Four and pay anywhere from $35 to $60 a month depending on your carrier of choice, and any additional features like HD streaming. Verizon has the cheapest base plan at $35 a month for 2GB data, and unlimited talk and text, but if you go for its Unlimited plan, which has unlimited data, talk, text, and HD video streaming, prices start at $60 (not counting line pricing). When comparing the Big Four’s Unlimited plans, there’s about a $10 difference between all of them.

Price of basic smartphone plans in the United States

Carrier  Price Data Minutes/Texts
Verizon (S Plan) $35 2GB Unlimited / Unlimited
Verizon (Prepaid) $40 2GB Unlimited / Unlimited
AT&T (Unlimited Choice Plan) $60 Unlimited Unlimited / Unlimited
AT&T (Prepaid) $30 $5 per 250MB Unlimited / Unlimited
Sprint (Unlimited Freedom Plan) $60 Unlimited Unlimited / Unlimited
Sprint (Prepaid) $40 3GB Unlimited / Unlimited
T-Mobile (One Unlimited Plan) $70 Unlimited Unlimited / Unlimited
T-Mobile (Prepaid) $45 4GB Unlimited / Unlimited

In the UK, there are still a handful of carriers, and their prices cover a wide range. Vodafone, Orange, and Everything & Everywhere (EE) — a collaboration between Orange and T-Mobile — dominate the cellular scene there. All three carriers are cheaper for similar service to each of the four U.S. carriers, ranging from $25 a month for 2GB of data on (EE), to $27 a month (Orange), to $37 a month for 4GB of data (Vodafone).

Orange (in France) sells a wireless plan with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 2GB of data for $27 a month. A major carrier in Spain, Telefónica offers a plan with 3GB of high speed data, unlimited calls, and texting for about $65 a month. That’s not bad, but considering AT&T can do unlimited data, talks, and text for $5 cheaper, Telefonica still has room for improvement.

Let’s not forget about Hong Kong and Japan. In Hong Kong, Hutchinson (also known as ‘Three’) will give you a 2.5GB high speed wireless plan with plenty of minutes for $52 a month. A similar, yet slightly better deal comes from Softbank in Japan, which will charge you $55 for unlimited 3G data and texting, and free calling to other Softbank users and landlines.

Price of basic smartphone plans around the world

Carrier  Price Data Minutes / Texts
Everything & Everywhere (UK) $25 2GB Unlimited / Unlimited
Vodafone (UK) $37 4GB Unlimited / Unlimited
Telefonica (Spain) $65 3GB Unlimited / Unlimited
Orange (France) $27 2GB Unlimited/Unlimited
Softbank (Japan) $55 Unlimited Unlimited / Unlimited
Hutchinson (Hong Kong) $52 2.5GB 2500 mins / Unlimited
*Prices converted on 4-20-2017

While we’re just talking about a simple smartphone plan here, the fact remains that just about any plan you can find in Europe, the UK, Hong Kong, or Japan, more than likely has a similar counterpart in the U.S. What international carriers have over American plans, however, are the amount of minutes and data you can get; people have more options if they don’t want to pay more for unlimited.

2-year contracts are (thankfully) a thing of the past

What could you do in two years? While most of us can’t see two weeks ahead, let alone two years, it eventually became a magic number for American carriers to pair with new plans. Until recently, it was plain silly and not in the consumer’s best interest.

Thankfully, 2-year contracts aren’t what they used to be, to the point that the four main carriers in the U.S. have stopped using them. AT&T did away with such contracts last year, and Sprint did the same. Verizon began moving away from them in 2015, and completely removed them in January. T-Mobile started the trend.

Across the Atlantic, many of the biggest mobile operators in Europe and the UK have made similar changes. Once upon a time, carriers would push 1-year contracts, 1.5 year contracts, or offer an incentive of some kind to go for the 2-year lock-in. Now, they offer and emphasize a variety of monthly phone, data, and pay as you go plans, which also leave customers open to upgrading their phones when they get the urge, just like the U.S.


Amazon slashes price of 2018 iPad to under $250 in time for Christmas

Whether you love Apple or prefer Android, this 2018 iPad 32GB tablet deal is rather tempting. If you're still on the hunt for gifts, then this deep discount from Amazon makes now an excellent time to pick one up.
Smart Home

These wireless security cameras are a wire-free way to protect your home

Home security cameras can give you piece of mind, but if they have wires, are limited in where you can put them. We've rounded up the best battery-operated home security cameras to give you flexibility along with your security.

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.

Save up to $750 with the best smartphone deals for December 2018

Need a better phone but don't want to spend a fortune? It's never a bad time to score a new smartphone and save some cash. We rounded up the best smartphone deals available that can save you as much as $750.

The best iPhone deals for December 2018

Apple devices can get expensive, but if you just can't live without iOS, don't despair: We've curated an up-to-date list of all of the absolute best iPhone deals available for December 2018.

How to use the ECG app, set up irregular rhythm notifications on the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch Series 4 is the best smartwatch iPhone owners can own, and it just got even better with the addition of the ECG app and ability to identify irregular heart rhythms. Here's how to set it all up.

Midrange phones can’t do A.I., but MediaTek’s P90 chip aims to change that

MediaTek has announced the Helio P90 mobile processor, which it says will bring the best A.I. features we see on high-end smartphones, to the mid-range. We spoke to the company about the chip.
Home Theater

Common AirPods problems, and how to fix them

Apple’s AirPods are among the best fully wireless earbuds we’ve seen, but they’re not perfect. If you’re having trouble, take a look at our guide to the most common problems and what you can do to fix them.

The LG V40 ThinQ, G7 ThinQ, and Watch W7 are discounted for the holidays

LG announced a series of deals for the holiday season where you can buy the company's two flagship phones, the V40 ThinQ and G7 ThinQ, as well as its latest smartwatch, for between $150 and $200 off, depending on the device.

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.

McLaren puts the pedal to the metal in special-edition OnePlus 6T

The OnePlus 6T is yet another flagship killer smartphone, bringing powerful specifications to a much lower price than the competition. Now, OnePlus has teamed up with McLaren for the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition.

G’day, Google: U.S. users can now give Assistant a British or Australian accent

U.S. Google Assistant users can give their Assistant a different voice. Google has updated Assistant with the ability for users to give it either a British or Australian accent, which could make it a little more personal for some.

Tune in to the best internet radio stations for your listening pleasure

Even in the streaming era, radio stations get some of the best exclusives and curate some of the finest handpicked playlists around. Here are the best internet radio stations, for your listening pleasure.

Microsoft’s latest patent paves the way for Andromeda dual-screen mobile device

The latest patent discovery from Microsoft showcases a new hinge design for quickly opening a dual-screen mobile device with a single hand. Could this be additional proof surrounding the rumors of the company's Project Andromeda device?
1 of 2