AT&T Wireless review: What you need to know
Is AT&T Wireless the best cell phone provider for you? Read on to find out everything you need to know with our in-depth AT&T Wireless review.
AT&T, aka AT&T Wireless or AT&T Mobility, is one of the Big Four cell phone networks, meaning it owns and operates its own cell towers. As a result it has managed to spread coverage nationwide to offer some of the broadest range of cover as some of the fastest speeds.
AT&T has up to 5G speeds and in some areas offers the fastest connections around. With over 162 million users in the US, this is one of the largest network providers there is.
Plans are wide and varied with pay monthly options as well as prepaid to make more savings. For those that want unlimited everything, there is plenty of choice there too with lots of other extras.
There are savings to be made by having multiple lines on the same plan. There are also great deals specifically for veterans.
AT&T Wireless review: Unlimited plans
- Prices from $35 per month
- Top end is $50 per month
Despite offering some of the fastest speeds and best coverage in the US, AT&T manages to offer some pretty competitive pricing when it comes to unlimited pay monthly plans.
At the most basic end is the lowest priced plan which starts at $35 per month plus taxes and fees. While you do get unlimited talk, text and data, at this level AT&T says it may slow data speeds when the network is busy. You also get unlimited everything to Mexico and Canada, SD streaming, automatic fraud blocking and spam risk alerts plus unlimited texting from the US to over 120 countries.
Jump up to $40 per month and you won't have data slowed until after 50GB of use. As well as everything above you also get 5G and 15GB mobile hotspot.
Or go for the top $50 plan and you will have full speed data for the first 100GB. In both cases slower data is only in place when the network is particularly busy. On top of everything above you get 30GB of mobile hotspot use, HD streaming and HBO thrown in for free.
AT&T Wireless review: Prepaid plans
- From $30 per month
- Tops out at $75 per month
More cell phone provider reviews
If a contract for pay monthly deals doesn't appeal then a prepaid plan could be a good option. These mean you don't have a credit check and there is no annual contract at all. These start at $30 for the month if you use AutoPay, or $35 without.
That $30/35 starting plan gets you unlimited talk and text plus 1GB of data, which rolls over if you don't use it all. You can also stream HD video, mobile hotspot, unlimited text to over 100 countries and a multi-line discount option. You will have to pay per use on talk, text and data to/in Mexico and Canada.
Jump up to $50 or $40 with AutoPay and you get all that plus 8GB of data and free Mexico and Canada talk, text and data.
Make the stretch to $65 per month or $45 with AutoPay and you get unlimited data but need to ad-on the mobile hotspot.
Or go top-end at $75 per month, or $55 with AutoPay to get all that plus 10GB of mobile hotspot data included.
AT&T Wireless review: Coverage and speed performance
- True 5G with 1 Gigabit speeds
- One of the best for coverage
AT&T consistently does well on coverage and speed tests, no matter which independant scorer you look at. It's main competition from the other big three usually struggles to keep up.
For 4G coverage AT&T covers most of the US nationwide with very few holes.
For speed AT&T was given a score of 32.91 by Speedtest.net which rated T-Mobile second at 30.94, Verizon third at 29.45 and Sprint last at 28.15. However, when it comes to the real world speed ratios achieved Verizon is top with 87.3 percent of acceptable speed ratio, T-Mobile second with 86.9 percent, AT&T third at 85.9 percent with Sprint in fourth with 81.2 percent.
AT&T Wireless review: What users say
- Three out of five on ConsumerAffairs
- A- on BBB
According to user reviews aggregator ConsumerAffairs, AT&T gets an average rating of three stars out of five based on 3,703 reviews. This is good when you consider that more people come on there to complain generally, unless it's a stand out good experience that drives them to write a review. Positives points include excellent roaming in other countries, great customer service and efficient billing. Negatives include poorer signal on prepaid and deals ending leaving customers without cheaper payment they'd joined for.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) gives AT&T a rating of A- which is very good. However there are plenty of complaints on there with an average customer reviews rating of just one star out of five based on 1,971 reviews. That said, 16,481 complaints have been closed in the last year.
AT&T Wireless review: Verdict
AT&T Wireless offers some of the best coverage in US with the fastest raw speeds out there. The reality of ratios can mean those speeds aren't always as fast as the competition but that can depend on your plan and location. Customer service, according to users, is good while the plans are varied with affordable options available and nice perks like free HBO for top end unlimited plans.
There should be something for everyone here, with discounts for veterans and family plans. If you get a good signal in your area this could be a decent option for you cell phone carrier.
If you're undecided on the handset you want, check out our best smartphone guide, while we also rank the best prepaid cell phone plans. Take a look at our cell phone coverage map of the US to find out who has the best network in America.