PROS / GoPhone combines the flexibility of monthly and pay-as-you-go plans with AT&T's solid coverage.
CONS / Without roaming, if you happen to stray outside of AT&T’s primary network area, you won’t stay connected.
VERDICT / GoPhone is the sort of provider you think of when buying feature phones but not smartphones. It has solid coverage and great device selection, but price and a lack of roaming support hold it back.
As prepaid phone companies have risen in popularity, many carriers have begun using offshoot brands to sell prepaid plans to customers. T-Mobile has MetroPCS, for example, while AT&T has rallied itself behind its owned-and-operated brand Cricket. But AT&T has another prepaid brand with a lot of history, if not nearly as much loyalty from consumers: GoPhone.
GoPhone is a name that’s trapped in the past, and its services reflect that. As a true prepaid provider, it lets you purchase airtime ahead of service and then use it as you go. There are monthly, daily and pay-as-you-go options, with prices that vary depending on whether you’re using a smartphone or a classic feature phone. While the smartphone options run on AT&T's excellent 4G LTE network, they tend not to offer quite as much for your dollar as the competition.
GoPhone's smartphone plans are all monthly and all include unlimited talk and text and different allotments of data. You can get a 3GB high-speed data allotment for $45 or a 6GB allotment for $60; after that, your downloads are reduced to 2G speeds. There’s also a $30 plan that doesn’t include data at all, but given what $30 can buy at providers like Boost, we have a tough time seeing why anyone would choose it.
Along with monthly choices, you have the option to pay $2 a day for unlimited talk and text. The price of data depends on whether you own a feature phone or a smartphone: feature phone connectivity costs one cent per 5KB, while smartphones buy data in 100MB chunks for $1 each. Feature phones also have a pay-as-you-go option that costs 25 cents a minute, 20 cents per text and one cent per 5KB of data. Just take care to watch your data usage on feature phones with either plan: one cent per 5KB might seem low, but it adds up to $2 megabytes. That's $2,000 a gigabyte. No feature phone will ever use that much data, but it puts usage rates into perspective.
GoPhone offers a number of prepaid smartphones, including mid-tier options like the Apple iPhone SE and Galaxy S6, older phones such as the iPhone 5s, and of course a number of budget phones and flip phones. All of the major features you expect from a modern prepaid provider are here, including long-distance calling, voicemail service, call waiting and three-way calls. Just be sure to stay within AT&T's coverage map to make use of those features, since GoPhone doesn't offer any sort of roaming outside its network. If you leave the coverage area – which, to be fair, is quite extensive – you can’t hitch a temporary ride on other networks.
GoPhone is a merely average provider. It doesn't have the best prepaid cell phone plans in terms of price, but it takes advantage of AT&T's solid network and is flexible if you're in the market for a daily or pay-as-you-go plan. We recommend looking a little higher on our lineup, but a GoPhone will do in a pinch, especially if all you need is a new flip phone.