Pros / Unlimited plans give you a discount on DirecTV.
Cons / Its plans are expensive.
Verdict / AT&T has a great network, but its plans are more expensive than comparable plans from other carriers.
AT&T is one of the Big Four cell phone providers – it owns and operates its own cell towers. It has the second most reliable network in the U.S., but expensive pricing makes it less appealing than competitors unless you plan on taking advantage of its discount on DirecTV.
RootMetrics rated AT&T second in overall network performance for the second half of 2017 – right behind Verizon Wireless. The carrier has middling overall performance rankings with OpenSignal, Ookla and Tom’s Guide. In general, it has a great network with good coverage, reliability and speeds, but it isn’t the best on a national scale. There are pockets, however, where AT&T is on top. RootMetrics reports that AT&T is either first or tied for first in 45 of its 125 tested urban markets, and Ookla reports that AT&T is the fastest carrier in 20 of the 100 most populous cities in the U.S.
AT&T offers both unlimited and Mobile Share Flex plans. The latter includes unlimited talk and text and a set amount of 4G data you can share between multiple lines or roll over to the next payment cycle if you don’t use it all. You can buy data buckets in 1, 5, 10 and 20 gigabyte increments. Each line added costs $20 monthly on top of the cost of the plan. These plans aren’t the most cost-efficient. The absolute cheapest plan for four lines at AT&T, at $115, costs the same as Verizon’s cheapest four-line plan but includes less data. The cheapest individual plan through AT&T is $55 for 1GB, while Verizon offers a 5GB individual plan for $5 more a month. You should also be careful when shopping AT&T’s plans, as they are not intuitive. You could end up paying more for a limited data plan than one of the unlimited plans.
AT&T has two unlimited plans. We recommend the more expensive of the two options, the Unlimited Plus Enhanced plan. This lets you stream in HD, use up to 22GB of 4G LTE per line and use 15GB for mobile hotspot tethering. It’s $90 per month for one line or $210 for four lines. As far as individual unlimited plans go, this is on the expensive side. The other unlimited plan – the Unlimited Choice Enhanced – streams at 480p and doesn’t include a mobile hotspot. It also deprioritizes your data, so Choice customers have slower speeds than other AT&T users when the network is congested.
The competition between the Big Four networks is pretty fierce, and though AT&T is a strong contender, other carriers offer better options, especially if you’re looking for an individual or budget plan.