Best cell phone providers 2023

Having the best cell phone carrier can save you a lot of money and hassle. Find the provider that fits your budget and serves all your data needs.

The best cell phone provider will give you the right amount of data and coverage for the best price. We’re here to help you decide between major US carriers including Verizon and T-Mobile and smaller networks like Visible. The best gaming phones are getting smarter and faster, and you need a network that can keep up with your data needs for streaming, working, and playing games on the go.

To break down your options, consider your monthly spending and how you want to pay. Some network providers ask you to lock into a monthly plan for a set period, while others offer pay-as-you-go or prepaid contracts, which can work out cheaper overall. US Mobile and Consumer Cellular also offer a free trial, so you can test the coverage before you commit.

Whether you’re looking to upgrade your cell phone plan to get one of the best 5G phones or save money by going on a cheaper plan, we’ll help you to find the best US cell phone provider for your needs.

Why you can trust our advice ✔ At Pocket Tactics, our experts spend days testing games, phones, tech, and services. We always share honest opinions to help you buy the best. Find out how we test.

The best cell phone providers today:

  1. Verizon – best provider overall
  2. Mint Mobile – best affordable provider
  3. T-Mobile– fastest data speeds
  4. AT&T wireless– good US coverage overall
  5. US Mobile – best for 5G coverage
  6. Cricket Wireless – affordable prepaid rates
  7. Visible – best cheap cell phone plans
  8. Consumer Cellular – high customer satisfaction

Verizon

Best cell phone provider overall in the US

Pros

  • Reliable and fast 5G coverage
  • Easy to customize plans

Cons

  • Not the cheapest
  • Fastest 5G not available everywhere

We’ve picked Verizon as the best cell phone provider in the US because it has a wide variety of simple plans and the most reliable 5G coverage. If you bring your phone, plans start at $25/per month for the Unlimited Welcome line or $30 for an extra 30GB of premium hotspot data – perfect for playing the best mobile games or streaming on the go. Verizon offers all the latest devices if you do want a new phone, and its plans are easy to customize to your needs so you don’t pay over the odds. You can also choose phone bundles, which include subscriptions to services like Disney Plus and Walmart+.

While we do have to point out that Verizon’s customer reviews average a pretty disheartening 1.2 out of 5 stars on Trust Pilot, all the cell phone carriers on this list have pretty low scores, with no provider above the 2 star mark. This suggests customers only leave reviews when they’ve had a bad experience, so it might be worth taking with a pinch of salt.

Verizon isn’t the cheapest cell phone provider here, but its 5G coverage is impressive; the company rolled out C-Band 5G early last year, to offer faster mid-band 5G to millions of consumers across the country. RootMetrics recently reported that Verizon had the best 5G reliability of any carrier, so if data is important to you, we think it’s worth paying a little more.

Mint Mobile

Affordable plans if you pay upfront

Pros

  • Affordable unlimited data plans
  • Uses reliable T-Mobile network

Cons

  • Few bonus packages
  • Low prices are for a yearly contract

Mint Mobile became famous for having Ryan Reynolds as a major shareholder, but now that the Canadian actor has sold his stake to T-Mobile, is it still worth considering as a cell phone provider? In short, yes. Mint uses T-Mobile’s network for coverage, and it swaps between 5G and 4G LTE coverage (whichever is stronger in your area) for reliable and fast speeds. Mint Mobile also offers some of the most affordable prepaid phone plans, with extra discounts on family plans.

The lowest prices apply when you take out at least a 12-month contract, but Mint usually offers promotions to new customers that give you months of free service. All Mint Mobile plans have unlimited calls and texts, 5G and 4G LTE coverage (whichever is stronger in your areas), free calls to Canada and Mexico, and free mobile hotspots up to 10GB. The price you pay each month depends on how much data you need: on a 12-month plan, $15 a month gets you 5GB of data, while 40GB of 5G data is $30.

If you want a cheap cell phone provider and don’t mind paying upfront for your plan, Mint Mobile is a great option, offering all the latest Android devices and Apple iPhones

AT&T Wireless

A good range of plans if you don’t mind browsing

Pros

  • 5G coverage is extensive
  • Physical stores

Cons

  • Physical stores
  • Plan pricing isn’t as clear as others

AT&T Wireless is one of the three major cell phone carriers in the US, owning and looking after its own cell towers rather than piggybacking on them as smaller networks do. Cell phone reception is still top-notch, but we haven’t rated AT&T higher in this guide because T-Mobile has better customer reviews, and Verizon provides better coverage generally.

There are plenty of AT&T Wireless plans to choose from, including those with discounts for students or multiple lines. If you bring your own phone AT&T Wireless will give you $250 in bill credits, but if you do want a new device, the payment plans are reasonable. Once you’ve paid off your phone, it will be unlocked for use on any cell phone carrier in the future.

Unlike Visible Wireless below, AT&T is one of the providers to have physical stores, which means you can visit should you have a query, or want to talk to someone about your contract.

Cricket Wireless

Best small prepaid wireless service provider

Pros

  • Service trial using free app
  • HBO Max on some plans

Cons

  • No contracts

In the same way that Visible is owned by Verizon, Cricket Wireless is owned by AT&T. According to Wikipedia, it supplies ten million subscribers in the United States, which makes it one of the smaller carriers on our list. With a range of prepaid plans, you know exactly what you’re spending, and you get access to Cricket’s nationwide 5G network as standard on each plan.

Cricket’s cheapest plan is $30 per month (for 5GB data) and the most expensive is Unlimited Premium with 15 GB Mobile Hotspot data at $60 monthly. If you want to buy several family lines, you can get 4 for $25 each month. Cricket also offers bonuses for the more expensive plans, including the ability to stream HBO Max with ads.

If you’ve got an iPhone, it’s possible to trial Cricket Wireless with the tryCricket app, which has an average rating of 4.7 stars out of 5. We’d suggest taking advantage of this free trial and checking Cricket’s network coverage to ensure you’ll be covered in your area.

Consumer Cellular

Best cell phone provider for seniors

Pros

  • Good higher data plans
  • Discount for seniors

Cons

  • Expensive for low data plans

The Consumer Cellular website isn’t as sleek as some providers, but there are some good value deals if you know where to look. As far as pricing goes, what you get at the lowest end isn’t as generous as other providers in this list. For example, $25 a month includes unlimited talk and text but only 5GB of data (it’s unlimited on Verizon’s basic plan).

However, Consumer Cellular should appeal to you if you want a monthly plan without a contract, and it’s been going for over 25 years as a US-based company (with US-based customer service centers).

Consumer Cellular gives AARP members a 5 percent discount, which has seen it become popular among seniors. As an MVNO, the carrier relies on T-Mobile and AT&T networks for coverage, so you should get as good a coverage as those wherever you are in the country. Like many providers, you can check your postcode on the website to make sure.

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