Pros / Verizon is the best in speed, performance and reliability.
Cons / You’ll pay between $10 and $15 more each month for Verizon’s service than you would with any other national provider.
Verdict / What other cell phone companies claim to deliver, Verizon Wireless actually does. Its network is easily the best in the business.
Verizon Wireless is, plain and simple, the best cell phone service in America. It offers the most reliable coast-to-coast coverage and the highest consistent speeds in the industry. You can have your pick of almost any phone on the market, and Verizon's customer service team is renowned for its quality. And now, with even lower unlimited family and invidiual and unlimited plans, Verizon is the only true contender.
- High-Speed Allowance
- Mobile Hotspot
- Individual Plan
- Family Plan
Coverage & Quality
There’s no more important measure of cell phone companies than their network quality. Since back during its famous “Can you hear me now?” marketing campaign, Verizon Wireless has trumpeted its superior coverage, and for good reason: No other carrier offers the same broad reach, dependable speeds and consistent performance year after year.
Of course, Verizon’s competitors claim otherwise. T-Mobile, for example, manages faster speeds in many areas, and points this out whenever it can. Over the entirety of the United States, though, Verizon has the more dependable LTE service. We know this thanks to the analysis of RootMetrics, an independent firm that tests all four major carriers across the country year-round.
Our own testing proved that Verizon had the highest average download speed (36 Mbps) and fastest app-download time of 1 minute and 2 seconds. It finished third in average upload speed, behind T-Mobile and MetroPCS, which use the same network. To come up with these figures, our sister site Tom's Guide went to six different test cities based on geographic diversity and popularity, including: Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and New York City. At the sites, they ran Ookla's Speedtest.net app both inside and outside with a Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphone activated on Verizon. They conducted the speed test five different times and then averaged the download and upload speeds recorded by the app. They also timed how long it takes to download and install the 58MB app Pokémon Go.
Pricing & Fees
With the end of contract pricing, Verizon’s cell phone plans are far simpler than they used to be. You’re no longer locked into two years of service, which means you can leave Verizon at any time if you’re not happy there. Of course, Verizon wants you to stay, which is why most phones that work on Verizon’s network will only work on Verizon’s network. You’re no longer locked into service, but you may still need to buy a new phone if your current one is incompatible.
The company's cheapest cell phone plan costs $40, giving you unlimited talk and text and data. That's upgradable to HD-quality streamingand Premium data speeds of data for $50. The average four-person family can expect to spend $160 a month If you just want an individual plan, your best bet is Verizon's 5GB for $55. For every additional device, like a wearable or tablet, you can add 2GB of data for $20.00 each.
Remember that with no-contract pricing, none of these plans include the cost of a phone. Smartphones can range anywhere from $50 to $1,000, depending on how much power you want out of your device. The iPhone 7, for example, clocks in at $549.99. That’s a solid deal for a high-quality mid-tier smartphone with 32GB of storage, but if you can’t afford it all upfront, Verizon gives you the option of paying for it over time, at $16.66 a month for 24 months.
A payment program may not be a contract in the classic sense, but it still ties you to Verizon until you pay the phone off. You have the option of doing that whenever you like, of course, but in the meantime Verizon lumps the cost of the phone into your monthly statement.
Like all of the best cell phone carriers, Verizon offers unlimited talk and text and data with every one of its plans. One line with unlimited data can start at $40 a month but to get that price you have to enroll in auto pay and paperless billing. Verizon's cheapest unlimited plan includes DVD streaming, a 22GB mobile hotspot and calling to Mexico and Canada. You can’t stream any music or video apps for free like you can on some of Verizon's competitors. The carrier also doesn't apply corporate, employee, student or federal discounts with its new unlimited plan, only military and veteran discounts. Like with most carriers, its unlimited data isn't truly unlimited. Verizon begins to throttle your speed after you use 22GB.
Now that contract plans are a thing of the past, so too are subsidized phones and the early-upgrade plans that made so much news two years ago. Verizon will still offer early termination assistance to customers who are grandfathered into contracts at other companies, though that promotion could go away at any time.
Verizon's selection of phones includes the biggest names in the business, including iPhones, Androids, BlackBerrys and Windows Phones, so there's no shortage of choices. The Verizon-exclusive Droid line of phones from Motorola is present, of course, as are devices from HTC, Samsung, LG and more.
Tablets and hotspots are both available online, including the latest iPad Pro and iPad Pro 9.7-inch from Apple. These are, of course, the LTE-enabled versions of the tablets, designed for those who prefer to have their iPad connect directly to the internet than be tethered to their phones.
Help & Support
Look anywhere on the internet and you'll find people complaining about big cell phone service providers. It's no different for Verizon, which has its fair share of disillusioned former customers with tales of bad experiences. This is true of every carrier, though, and we still back Verizon as having one of the best customer service teams in the business. Based on our direct interactions with several cell phone carriers and our extensive research of other customers' impressions, we happily recommend Big Red's customer service team.
Verizon Wireless is the biggest, most widespread carrier in the U.S. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the provider for you; if your budget is tight, then price probably means far more to you than coverage. However, when you take into account its diversity of phones, great customer support team and the fact that you can access the best cell phone service in America, it remains our number one pick.