How to Choose the Right Smartphone Wireless Data Plan
Monthly plans*: $15 for 200 MB; $25 for 2 GB; $45 for 4 GB
Overage charges: $15 for an additional 200 MB with an existing 200 MB plan; $10 for an additional 1 GB with an existing 2 GB or 4 GB plan
RS verdict: Low prices and free unlimited access at 26,000 public AT&T hot spots, including those at airports, make it appealing for moderate or light users. But it may not be for heavy users, since AT&T doesn’t offer a large data plan.
*All prices and data amounts were current at press time.
Featured in December 2011
Monthly plans: $80 for unlimited data
Overage charges: None
RS verdict: Sprint’s 4 G network is the fastest around, and Internet speeds are never slowed, regardless of how much data you use. But there is no cheaper plan offered.
Monthly plans: $50 for 2 GB; $65 for 5 GB; $95 for 10 GB
Overage charges: None, but your data speed will be reduced (or throttled) until the close of the next billing cycle.
RS verdict: Five hundred “whenever” phone minutes and unlimited texting are included in the data plan. But according to a study by the independent wireless-analysis group Validas, T-Mobile users receive the least amount of data for their dollar due to slow network speeds.
Monthly plans: $30 for 2 GB; $50 for 5 GB; $80 for 10 GB
Overage charges: $10 per additional 1GB
RS verdict: The most desirable choice, thanks to Verizon’s clear pricing options, excellent coverage, and relatively quick network speeds.