We covered a few of the amazing deals on alternative wireless providers in our first Best Of 2013 posting, but now it is time to start off with the #5 Unlimited Plan. The unlimited category must feature unlimited talk and text, plus a minimum of 1GB of data to qualify. As we rounded out our final results, Simple Mobile took the number 5 position.
Simple Mobile runs off the T-Mobile Prepaid Network. This means no 3G/4G roaming in most areas, but the coverage is adequate enough in most metropolitan areas. Coverage on Simple has been boosted by T-Mobile’s expansion to the 1900mhz bands in many markets. This 1900mhz expansion has also quadrupled the number of available 3G handsets for Simple as well. Overall, coverage gets a 7.5 out of 10.
Pricing is something that Simple Mobile has right. $40 gets you Unlimited Talk, Text and Data with the first 250MB at 4G speeds over T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network. For an additional $10, you enhance the plan to unlimited 4G data. Now, this is one of those he said, she said things, but many users report getting chopped off after 2GB of data each month. We will just say this, if you follow the terms of service, it is impossible to exceed this limit. It clearly says no streaming, uploading or using your device to hook another to the internet. That said, you won’t go over the unspoken cap unless you watch Netflix, listen to Pandora and upload
Handset selection for Simple Mobile has increased dramatically in some markets as T-Mobile continues to run out their updated 3G/4G – 1900mhz upgrade to their network. If you happen to select an HSPA+ 42 handset, you will probably get speeds that rival those LTE connections that haven’t shown up on many prepaid maps just yet. Overall, phones like the Optimus L9 ($199.99 without contract) and the Wal-Mart Family Plan’s version of the Samsung Galaxy S II ($299.99 without contract) are front and center in handset selection for Simple Mobile. With any T-Mobile or unlocked GSM handset able to be used, and now receive that 3G/4G signal, Simple has really stepped up their game from last year’s survey.
When we begin to talk about the downfall of Simple Mobile, we must mention that the customer service is probably not the strongest aspect of their business. It is important to remember though, that the majority of MVNO carriers do not feature the strongest customer service. The harder part to remember is that you never need that service until there is a problem. If you are porting numbers in, using a phone that isn’t on their authorized list or even just trying to get support for international calling, you are usually better off trying their online options before calling. While we like talking to live humans every once in a while, for billing, support and network questions, we prefer the faster options to the please hold options.
Overall, Simple Mobile impressed us to the tune of the 5th best deal in wireless this year. Had they offered the 2GB plan at a slightly more affordable $45 price tag they would have moved up the list a few more spots. As it sits, with that $200 non-contract handset from T-Mobile and 24 months of service, starts at $1160. Adding on the unlimited high speed data brings the cost to $1400 over that same 2 years. Now if you are one that is happy holding on to that phone until it stops working, your actual yearly cost on service alone is a lowly $480 on the 250MB plan once you have a device. For unlimited 4G data, the cost climbs to $600.
The data speeds alone are well worth the $50 a month price tag, but a limited amount of that 1900mhz spectrum being active for all those world phones, and more importantly unlocked AT&T phones, keep Simple Mobile from climbing much higher in our 2013 Best Value In Wireless.