If you’re looking for a great deal on a new phone plan, Tello Mobile is one to consider.
In this Tello review, I’ll take a close look at Tello’s plans and pricing, how to get started, and what to expect from Tello’s service.
I tested Tello Mobile for 30 days to try out the service myself. I’ve also compared more than 70 different available phone plans to see how Tello holds up.
This article was updated in June 2023 and I review it every 12 months. Detailed notes on all updates can be found here.
What To Know Before Signing Up for Tello Mobile
Tello Mobile is an affordable prepaid cell phone service provider that runs on T-Mobile’s network, also known as a T-Mobile MVNO. Pre-built plans from Tello Mobile begin as low as $10 per month for 1GB of high-speed data, which has won Tello the title of the cheapest monthly cell phone plan on Clark.com.
I tested out Tello’s 1GB plan for 30 days to explore its coverage, call and text performance, customer service and more.
Table of Contents:
- Plans and Pricing
- Activation Process
- Call and Text Performance
- Data Speeds
- Customer Service
Below, you’ll find information about Tello including what plans are available, how reliable the service is and whether or not you should consider it for your next phone plan.
Plans and Pricing
Tello Mobile offers four ready-made plans including the cheapest overall monthly phone plan available now (Tello Economy).
Here are Tello’s pre-built plans:
- Economy: 1GB of 4G LTE/5G data for $10/month
- Value: 2GB of 4G LTE/5G data for $14/month
- Smart: 5GB of 4G LTE/5G data for $19/month
- Data: 25GB of 4G LTE/5G data for $29/month
All of Tello Mobile’s ready-made plans include unlimited talk and text. They each also allow you to turn your smartphone into a hotspot with free tethering.
In addition to Tello Mobile’s pre-built plans, you can also build your own. When it comes to building a custom plan, monthly prices range from $5 to $29.
Tello subscribers can mix-and-match between no data, 500MB, 1GB, 2GB, 5GB, 6GB, 8GB or unlimited data and no minutes, 100, 300, 500 or unlimited minutes. All of Tello Mobile’s custom plans include free unlimited texting.
No matter how much high-speed cellular data you have with Tello, you’ll always have unlimited 2G data. In addition to 2G data and mobile hotspot tethering, all Tello Mobile plans can also be used for calls to over 60 countries.
You can also upgrade or downgrade your Tello plan anytime with no extra fees, according to Tello’s website. Plans renew automatically every 30 days, but you can cancel anytime without any charges.
Purchasing a Tello Mobile phone plan and activating the service is very easy to do. I recently signed up myself to try out the service for a full month. To get started, I visited Tello’s website and chose the Economy plan ($10/month for 1GB of high-speed data).
You’ll have to log in to continue. Creating an account is simple and includes entering your email address, a password and a decision on whether or not you want to “stay in touch to get Tello’s best deals” throughout your service.
Once I’d logged in, I was able to review my order.
Unless you already have an account with Tello, you’ll have to set up a new Tello line. You can bring your own number only after the package has been delivered and the service has been activated on your account. For this plan, the subtotal was $10.
Next, you’ll have to add a phone. You can purchase a new Tello phone or keep your old phone.
I chose to keep my old phone and clicked “Get Started.” I dialed *#06# to get my phone’s IMEI to check compatibility. Fortunately, my phone was compatible, so I clicked “Continue.”
You’ll need a Tello SIM in order to use the service, so if you don’t already have one, you’ll have to select “Buy SIM.” To do this, you’ll just need to enter the address where you’ll mostly use the service. Once you do, you’ll also get a brief analysis of what your service will look like at that address.
Here’s what I saw when I entered my address:
The SIM card added $2 to my total, bringing it to $12.
Tello Mobile now also offers eSIM for compatible phones with instant activation. To get an eSIM, go through the activation process like normal, and select the eSIM option during checkout when you place the order. Then, the activation QR code will be available to scan from your Tello account. Once you scan the code, you’ll be able to start using your new Tello service in minutes! You can learn more about eSIMs here.
I chose the traditional SIM card with free shipping (3-5 business days) but priority mail and second-day air shipping were also available for additional charges. Taxes added an additional $1.73, which brought my final total to $13.73.
I had the choice of paying with either a credit card, debit card or PayPal before finalizing my order. Here, I was also able to opt in to receiving an email reminder 48 hours before charging me every month. If you have a coupon code, you can enter that during checkout to reduce the price.
Once you’ve placed the order, just wait for your SIM card to arrive. You can check the order status anytime by logging into your Tello account.
Three days later, my Tello SIM card arrived.
It was delivered in a pink padded envelope, so it stood out among the rest of the mail. Inside was the SIM card itself as well as a short instruction sheet, but there was no SIM card removal tool included.
Once I opened the package, I visited tello.com/activate. I entered the nine-digit activation code that was located on the back of the card that contained my SIM. From there, I was prompted to log in to my account. I confirmed the delivery by reentering my activation code and clicking “Activate.”
To complete activation, I had to turn my phone off, insert the SIM and then turn it on again. Once I had done this, my phone immediately picked up service from Tello’s network, and I was able to place a test phone call.
Once your service is activated, you can view your Tello account usage history on the Tello app as well.
Call and Text Performance
Over the course of 30 days, I tried out Tello Mobile’s service by making and receiving phone calls as well as sending and receiving text messages.
While I didn’t travel a lot during the month that I was testing Tello, I had consistently good service with no dropped calls or undelivered text messages. Of course, this won’t be true for every area.
Tello Mobile runs on T-Mobile’s network. and the map below indicates coverage in many areas of the United States.
To see if Tello Mobile offers coverage in your area, check out its coverage map.
You can enter your address or ZIP code to see details including 5G, 4G LTE, 3G, 2G coverage and more. When I entered my address, I got a message saying “Good news, it looks like you’ll have coverage at this address.” Based on my experience, this was accurate.
Tello Mobile offers access to T-Mobile’s 4G LTE/5G network. Based on my experience and T-Mobile’s coverage map, you’ll likely have consistent access to data with Tello Mobile.
To make sure you’ll have coverage before switching to Tello Mobile, be sure to enter your address on its coverage checker online. You can also look at T-Mobile’s coverage map to get a better idea of service in your area since they run on the same towers.
When I tried out Tello Mobile myself, I checked the data speeds using speedtest.net:
The download speed was usually around 80 Mbps. The plan I tried came with 1GB of 4G LTE/5G data, but Tello offers up to 25GB of data per month with its Unlimited plan. After you’ve reached your high-speed data limit, you’ll be reduced to significantly slower 2G data speeds.
During the month that I was testing Tello Mobile, I also connected my laptop to my phone’s hotspot and tested the speeds using the same website:
Hotspot speeds were significantly slower and ranged between 15.13-31.44 Mbps.
According to Consumer Reports, 18 Mbps is the minimum speed necessary for streaming 4K movies and TV shows. Netflix recommends a download speed of 15 Mbps for streaming 4K. Amazon says you’ll need a download speed of at least 1 Mbps for SD video and 5 Mbps for HD video on Prime.
Based on these numbers, Tello Mobile’s high-speed data is fast enough to do most things online, including streaming HD video. However, I wouldn’t rely on a hotspot for the highest speeds.
Tello is an online-only company, which means there’s no store visit for customer support. Instead, you’ll have to contact Tello Customer Service online via chat or email or by phone.
Tello’s customer service is available 24/7, which means you can get support any time, day or night. To contact Tello, simply visit tello.com/contact.
From there, you can scroll down the page and find the options for contacting Tello’s support team. You can enter your name, email address, phone number and your question or request category. Then, you can choose whether you want to start an instant online chat or receive an email response.
If you’d rather speak to someone by phone, you can call Tello Mobile’s customer support at (866) 377-0294.
When I contacted Tello, I found that the online chat feature was the best and easiest option for me. I was quickly connected to a representative who was able to answer my questions every time.
Before I began testing phone plans, I highlighted the key factors that I would be exploring. This way, I would be able to accurately compare phone plans and get a full overview of what to expect from each service.
Here are the key factors I focused on while trying out each phone plan:
- Length of Time. I tested each phone plan for 30 days to observe the network’s reliability and gather feedback from friends and family regarding service.
- Signing Up. I signed up for each phone plan myself to document the process of getting started, testing phone compatibility or bringing your own device, how long it takes to receive the SIM card and the activation process.
- Reliability. I used my personal AT&T line as a base to see how often the tested phone plan had service and noted any dropped calls/undelivered text messages.
- Service. During the month, I made/received at least 15 calls and sent/received at least 15 text messages. I also tested the phone’s data speed and hotspot speed using speedtest.net.
- Customer Support. During my time testing out each phone service, I contacted customer support in all available ways to determine which method is best, how long it took to reach them and how helpful the experience was.
Ultimately, I had a great experience while testing for this Tello Mobile review. I had great service and coverage for the month that I tested it, and the data speeds were fast enough to stream HD video. I didn’t experience any dropped calls or undelivered text messages, and contacting customer service was easy.
If you’re thinking about switching to Tello, ask yourself these questions first:
- Is T-Mobile’s network strong in your area? You can check Tello’s coverage map and T-Mobile’s coverage map online to see if you’ll have service in your area.
- Can you get by with limited data? Tello offers custom plans ranging from no data to 25GB of high-speed data per month with its unlimited data plan. While all plans include unlimited 2G speeds, none of them include truly unlimited high-speed data.
- Is your current phone compatible with Tello? You can check your phone’s compatibility online.
If you can answer “yes” to each of these questions, then Tello will likely be a great choice for you. Fortunately, you won’t have to sign a contract when you sign up and you can cancel at any time.
For more options, be sure to read our guide on the best cell phone plans and deals available now. Once you’ve decided on a new phone plan and you’re ready to make the switch, check out this guide that we put together to take you step-by-step through the process.
Have you tried Tello Mobile? Share your experience in our Clark.com Community and check out the latest conversations around cell phone plans!
- June 5, 2023: Tello now offers eSIM
- June 5, 2023: Updated Tello’s contact information to the new system online