Simple Mobile review: Is this low-cost carrier worth the savings?

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Simple Mobile review: Is this low-cost carrier worth the savings?
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I’ve been using Simple Mobile for close to a year now and I’d say that if you’re a casual data user, their lower cost plans just might work for you. If, however, you rely heavily on data on your phone, the throttling of Simple Mobile’s cheaper plans make it largely unmanageable.

The MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) launched in 2009 and advertises plans as low as $25 a month for unlimited data. Owned by Tracfone’s parent company, América Móvil, Simple Mobile runs on T-Mobile’s network and is considered a low-cost carrier.

Simple Mobile: Table of contents

If you’re thinking about switching plans and willing to try a prepaid carrier, here’s what you should know about Simple Mobile before you sign up:

Plans and pricing

Simple Mobile offers five data plans, all of them prepaid for 30 days. Two of them are billed as “Truly unlimited.” Here they are:

Single lines

Plan name Price Data speed
3GB $25 ($20 with Auto Re-up First 3GB data up to 4G LTE speed, then 2G + mobile hotspot
2GB $30 ($28 with Auto Re-up) First 2GB data up to 4G LTE speed, then 2G + mobile hotspot
12GB $40 ($37.50 with Auto Re-up) First 12GB data up to 4G LTE speed, then 2G + mobile hotspot
Truly Unlimited $50 ($45 with Auto Re-up) Up to 4G LTE speed, video streaming at 480p + 10GB mobile hotspot
Truly Unlimited $60 ($57 with Auto Re-up) Fastest 4G LTE speeds, video streaming at DVD quality

While Simple Mobile’s Truly Unlimited plans offer unlimited talk, text and unlimited high-speed data. However, if you’re using your phone as a hotspot, you’ll be throttled after you reach the 10GB threshold.

The hotspot feature is currently available on both the $50 and $60 Truly Unlimited plans.

Which network does Simple Mobile run on?

Like MetroPCS, Simple runs on T-Mobile’s network. You may be wondering, “How is this any different from all the other T-Mobile options?”

As a former T-Mobile customer, I’ve experienced very few differences in service — but there are differences, nonetheless.

Given T-Mobile’s vast infrastructure, I’ve had very little problem with coverage or dropped calls on Simple Mobile. There is one doozy I’ve noticed, however, when it comes to SMS: Often, my text messages will not go through on first press. If I hit resend, though, it seems to work fine. More on that later.

Activation process

Because Simple Mobile doesn’t have any retail stores, I had to buy a SIM card via mail. Once I purchased it, it arrived at my home (via UPS or USPS) in less than a week. There are some simple instructions for inserting the SIM card, but things got a bit more hairy when I had to call customer service to port my phone number.

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I mistakenly thought that because Simple Mobile was on the T-Mobile network it would be a cinch to port the number over, but it turns out I had to jump through a few hoops. First, I had to stay on the phone for around 30 minutes before I reached a dead end because I didn’t have my old T-Mobile account number handy.

Once I drove to the local T-Mobile store and retrieved the number (yes, I had to drive to T-Mobile) I came back home, called Simple Mobile and stayed on the phone for an additional 15 minutes.

Finally, I was told that I had to input my PIN. Of course, I didn’t have that either, so they told me to again ask my old service provider. After several frustrating minutes, I remembered my PIN and finally was able to port my number. I was successfully activated with Simple Mobile.

Which phones are compatible with Simple Mobile?

If you want to bring your phone to Simple Mobile, it must be GSM compatible, not CDMA. (Do a compatibility check here.)

Simple Mobile has a number of the latest phones for sale. Here are some of the more popular ones:

Simple Mobile phones

Phone Price 
iPhone 8 64GB $299
iPhone X 64GB $599
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 $949.99
iPhone 8 Plus 64GB $399
Samsung Galaxy J7 Crown $149.99
Moto G6 $179.99
Updated: January 2019

Call & text performance

The call performance with Simple Mobile is on par with other phones I’ve had. I’ve never experienced a dropped call in the time that I’ve had Simple Mobile. I have, however, entered a phone number and before I’ve had time to pull the phone up to my ear, the call says “failed.” So it’s not really a dropped call — the call was never connected to be dropped!

The problem that I have experienced more frequently, as I alluded to earlier, is that when I type a text message and hit send, sometimes they don’t go through. If I’m cognizant enough to notice, I can catch it, but many times, I look at my phone hours later to see that the text message failed to send. I have to resend it to make it work.

Data speeds

To test data speed on Simple Mobile, I downloaded the Speedtest by Ookla app.  The average download speed was 38.7 Mbps (megabits per second) and the average upload speed was 0.34 Mbps.

For reference, anything above a 2 Mbps download speed is considered good for quality video streaming. For high-definition quality videos, anything above 5 Mbps for downloads is more than adequate for casual use.

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Customer service 

Customer service is the backbone of any successful company. When I got Simple Mobile, I didn’t know I’d be communicating with them so frequently.

I originally signed up for the bargain-basement $25 plan to save some serious coin on my cell phone bill. The thing is, I ran out of data in literally ONE DAY.

I wanted to re-up, but not call customer service, so I sought to do that in the Simple Mobile app.

The app has an option to add 1.5G of data for $10, so that’s what I did. Two days later, I was being throttled again.

That’s when I realized that in this data-hungry mobile world where we use our phones for way more than just calling people, 2G simple won’t cut it. Not only can it take minutes rather than seconds for pages to load, but watching video on 2G is entirely out of the question.

Problems with the Simple Mobile app

In those early days, I learned my way around the Simple Mobile app, which is serviceable, but glitchy. When I tried to edit my plan to change it, I kept getting an error message (below). I reported the problem on an online feedback form and waited for someone to get back to me.

Screen shot of Simple Mobile app

After a few days, I noticed that inside the app, you can access a messaging feature that connects you to the Simple Mobile site. To their credit, an agent immediately responds (or did for me, at least). But they weren’t able to help me.

I finally gave up and called Simple Mobile’s customer service number at 1-877-878-7908 (it took only 2 minutes to connect to a real person). I bumped my plan up to the “Truly Unlimited” plan for $50 ($45 if you’re an autopay customer) and have been using it ever since.

Word of caution: The $50 plan took away my hotspot, so I had to either go down to the lower plans (and be throttled) or get the $60 “Truly Unlimited” plan. So, I chose the latter. Now, I’m paying just $10 less than I did with my previous carrier.

Every time you change a plan, they charge your card immediately. So, all those times I changed my plan, even a day or hours later? Simple Mobile charged me for it. Ouch!

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I called them and the Simple Mobile rep wouldn’t give me credit for forking over $50 and told me that since I was getting a new plan, I would “forfeit” any payment for the old plan. Three weeks later, I called Simple Mobile again, and was refunded the $50 charge for changing my plan twice in the same day.

Simple Mobile: Pros and cons

If you’re thinking about switching plans and willing to try a prepaid carrier, here’s what you should know about Simple Mobile before you sign up:

Simple Mobile Review: Here are the pros and cons 

Pros Cons
Non-contract, prepaid plans Despite advertising, one “Truly Unlimited” data plan not truly unlimited
Savings for choosing auto renewal SMS messaging can be unreliable
Dependable T-Mobile network Customer service not always helpful
Affordable single line and family plans App can be glitchy at times
You can keep your old phone & number in most cases

In the final analysis, is Simple Mobile right for you?

If you want prepaid service, don’t need to do much more than talk and text, and are patient enough to work to find real  customer service, it just might work for you. But if you’re a heavy data user, you’re going to end up paying about the same as you would with a major carrier. It’s just that Simple.

Looking for a new cell phone plan? Check out our cell phone guide for best deals!

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