The most wonderful of the time of the year, as it happens, is this morning. Not only is it Friday, but it’s also launch day for the Samsung Galaxy S8. Right now, you can go wander into a store and come out with a phone with zero bezel, a curved display, and an iris reader. Even better, the battery won’t explode.
But a phone isn’t much good without a mobile data plan, so to celebrate this momentous day, we’ve put together a comparison of the best plans you can get on each network for a Galaxy S8.
Best unlimited plans
All four major wireless carriers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint) have plans that are generously called “Unlimited.” What you really get isn’t unlimited data; instead, you get unrestricted data up to a cap (over 20GB for all the plans), and then over that cap, you’ll still get a connection but you may be throttled. There are also restrictions on using your cellphone as a wireless hotspot and streaming HD video, depending on the plan.
Verizon and T-Mobile currently have the two best plans worth talking about. You can see our full breakdown of the different plans here, but based on a couple metrics and your particular needs, Verizon or T-Mobile are the carriers to go with. Verizon has the best coverage across the entire US, and its low-band network works better indoors or in rural areas.
However, T-Mobile has a more dense network with the same average speeds as Verizon. And, ever since February, when Verizon started offering unlimited data plans, Verizon’s network has started to become more congested. According to data from Speedtest.net, average connection speed for Verizon users has dropped slightly since the introduction of unlimited plans.
Verizon’s plan is better for heavy data users, both because of the quality of the network, and the fact that you get 10GB of hotspot data and free HD videos included in the price. T-Mobile’s basic unlimited One plan doesn’t allow tethering at 4G speeds or streaming HD video, but you can get both of those for a $5 per month add-on.
The price for a single line is slightly in T-Mobile’s favor. One unlimited line is $70 per month including taxes and fees, while Verizon’s price is around $90 including taxes and fees.
Best prepaid plan
In addition to the four major networks you’re familiar with, there are also a host of mobile virtual network operators (MVNO), which use one of the big carrier’s networks to serve their own customers. They tend to be aimed at people on cheaper cellphone plans, and can provide good value for money if you don’t need unlimited data.
MintSIM is one of the best: it offers huge discounts by selling service for 3 months, 6 months or a year upfront. The idea is that you pay $199 for 12 months of unlimited talk, text, and 2GB of data a month. That works out to just $16.58 a month, which is a crazy saving on a regular data plan. It uses T-Mobile’s network, so you should get the same coverage you do with Big Magenta.
Republic Wireless is another beloved MVNO. Its best plan is $20 per month for talk, text and 1GB of data on Sprint or T-Mobile.