Pros / Verizon Wireless has the best network.
Cons / It doesn’t have any budget options for individual plans.
Verdict / With its dependable, fast and expansive network, Verizon is the best cell phone provider nationwide.
For the past nine years, Verizon has scored the highest overall on RootMetrics’ RootScore reports. RootMetrics is an independent agency that runs thousands of network performance tests each year to see how well major mobile networks work across the country. Nationally, Verizon Wireless has the best reliability, speed, data, call clarity and text performance of the Big Four wireless networks. We compared these metrics carefully in our evaluations because network performance is the most important thing about a cell phone provider – it’s no use having unlimited data if you can’t use it.
Verizon offers two tiers of unlimited data plans that cost $80 and $90 a month, plus taxes and fees. They are advertised as $5 less than their actual price because Verizon factors in its autopay discount. We based our side-by-side evaluations on the more expensive of the two, the Beyond Unlimited plan. This plan offers “premium” unlimited 4G LTE data, which is prioritized over the less expensive Go Unlimited plan. Speeds might slow down after you use 22GB in one billing cycle though. The $10 upgrade also gives you up to 15GB of high-speed mobile hotspot and the ability to stream video in HD, while the Go plan is limited to slower hotspot speeds (600kbps) and DVD-quality (480p) videos.
Verizon lowers prices for additional lines on your plan – up to 10. Four lines of the Beyond Unlimited plan, for example, costs $220 per month. While on the expensive end for family plans, it’s cheaper than paying $90 for each line.
Verizon doesn’t have a real budget option for a single user; its cheapest individual plan is a decent mid-tier plan. For $60 a month, you get 5GB of data on one line that you can share with a tablet or wearable. The plan includes unlimited talk and text and the ability to carry over data through the next billing cycle. It’s a good plan if you use less than 5GB a month, but if you use more, its $15 per gig to add data, which is steeper than others. If you’re looking for a cheap individual plan, MetroPCS has better options.
For families, Verizon offers three shared data plans with 2, 4 or 8 gigs for $35, $50 or $70 a month (plus $20 per smartphone to access the plan). These aren’t particularly generous data allotments, but the shared data bucket plan is useful for families with some members who don’t use much data.
Verizon lets you customize your plan by adding unlimited calling to Mexico and Canada for $5 a month or by expanding your range to over 70 countries for $15. If you want to use your phone overseas, you can access your phone plan for $10 a day with Verizon’s TravelPass.
Verizon offers a good selection of phones to go with your plans, including popular flagship phones and options in mid-tier and budget categories. It has a total of 38 smartphones and basic phones available at the time of our testing, only four fewer than Sprint’s 42 phone options.
It’s up to you to decide if Verizon’s superior network is worth its more expensive price. Its expansive network and performance make it a safe bet across the U.S., but we advise checking coverage maps and making sure your usual usage area is well within a covered area before choosing any phone carrier.