If you want a no-frills low-cost cell phone service, you may want to consider Simple Mobile, a prepaid wireless provider.
Simple Mobile is an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) that launched in 2009 and advertises plans as low as $25 a month. Owned by Tracfone’s parent company, América Móvil, Simple Mobile runs on T-Mobile’s network and doesn’t require a contract.
Because it’s considered a low-cost carrier, Simple Mobile appeals to customers that don’t want to spend a lot of money on a data plan and all the bells and whistles that can come with it. But is it worth it?
What Is Simple Mobile? Here’s What You Need to Know
I tested Simple Mobile out for more than a year and tried a few different plans.
In this article, I’ll review Simple Mobile so that you can make an informed decision if you’re considering the wireless provider.
Table of Contents:
- Plans and Pricing
- Network Coverage
- Activation Process
- Phone Selection
- Call and Text Performance
- Customer Service
- Pros and Cons
1. Plans and Pricing
Simple Mobile offers five data plans ranging from $25 to $60 a month. All of them are prepaid plans that give you service for 30 days until the next bill is due.
Simple Mobile’s cheapest plan gives you 3GB (gigabytes) of data for $25. Other data options include 5GB and 15GB.
There are two “Truly Unlimited” plans that offer unlimited talk, text and data. Both include video streams up to 480p.
One of these unlimited data plans comes with an additional 5GB hotspot at $50 a month, and the other unlimited plan offers an additional 15GB hotspot for $60. After you exhaust your hotspot, you can expect to be throttled quite a bit.
All plans include unlimited international calling to 69 destinations and international roaming in 16 Latin-American countries. They also include a one-time $10 international calling credit to 100+ destinations.
2. Network Coverage
As far as coverage is concerned, when I used Simple Mobile in the Atlanta, Georgia area, I had very few connectivity issues.
Simple Mobile’s website has a coverage map that shows 5G and 4G LTE data on T-Mobile’s networks.
3. Activation Process
Because Simple Mobile doesn’t have any retail stores, I had to buy a SIM card online and have it delivered to my home. It arrived in less than a week.
Please note that if you plan to use your own phone, it should be an unlocked GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) T-Mobile compatible device.
The instructions for switching over to Simple Mobile seemed simple enough. This is what I did:
- Inserted Simple Mobile SIM card into the phone
- Went to simplemobile.com/activation/byopcollectsim from my laptop
- Entered activation number found on the SIM card
- Configured data settings to port my number over to Simple Mobile
Unfortunately, the Simple Mobile activation process got a bit difficult, so I called customer service to help port my phone number.
I mistakenly thought that because Simple Mobile was on the T-Mobile network it would be a cinch to switch 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.
4. Phone Selection
If you want to bring your phone to Simple Mobile, they allow you to see if it will work on their network. (You can do a compatibility check here.)
When I used Simple Mobile, I had an iPhone 6 Plus, but many other phones work on the service as well.
Here’s a partial list of devices that are compatible with Simple Mobile, courtesy of its website as of this writing.
- Samsung Galaxy A10E and A11
- Apple iPhone XS and XR
- Moto E6
- LG Premier Pro Plus
5. Call and Text Performance
The call performance with Simple Mobile is on par with other phones I’ve had. I never experienced a dropped call in the time that I had Simple Mobile.
I did, however, enter a phone number and before I had time to pull the phone up to my ear, the call said: “failed.” So it’s not really a dropped call — the call was never connected to be dropped!
More frequently, I had problems texting. When I typed a text message and hit “send,” sometimes the text wouldn’t go through. If I noticed, I could catch it, but many times, I looked at my phone hours later only to see that the text message had failed to send. I had to resend it to make it work.
6. Customer Service
Money expert Clark Howard likes to categorize businesses as having either customer service or “customer no-service.” I wouldn’t go so far as to label Simple Mobile as the latter. But when I signed up for service, I didn’t anticipate I’d be communicating with the customer service department so frequently.
I originally signed up for the bargain-basement $25 plan to save money 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 tried to do that in the Simple Mobile app.
Through the app, I added 1.5GB of data for $10. Two days later, I was being throttled again.
Problems With the Simple Mobile App
In those early days, I learned my way around the Simple Mobile app, which I found to be 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.
After a few days, I noticed that inside the app, you can access a messaging feature that connects you to the Simple Mobile site. An agent responded immediately but wasn’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 two minutes to connect to a real person). I bumped my plan up to the “Truly Unlimited” plan for $50.
Days later, I upgraded once more to the $60 monthly “Truly Unlimited” plan, which meant that I was paying just $10 less than with my previous carrier.
It’s worth noting that every time I changed my plan they charged my card immediately. So all those times I upgraded, even a few hours or days later, Simple Mobile charged me the full monthly fee. Ouch!
I called customer service again 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 after that, I called Simple Mobile again and was refunded the $50 charge for changing my plan twice in the same day.
7. Pros and Cons: Simple Mobile
|No-contract data plans||Major throttling on plans that are not “Truly Unlimited”|
|Discount for choosing auto renewal||SMS messaging can be unreliable|
|Dependable T-Mobile network||Customer service not always helpful|
|Affordable single line plans||App can be glitchy at times|
|You can keep your phone and number in most cases||Prepaid-only payment system|
Simple Mobile’s various data plans can save you big money compared to some of the other major carriers.
The wireless provider may be a good option for you if:
- You want to keep your phone and phone number
- You like T-Mobile’s network and coverage area
- You’re willing to prepay every 30 days for cell phone service
From my experience with Simple Mobile, it appears that if you’re a heavy data user, you’re going to end up paying more than you originally planned to pay with the low-cost plan.
See more options in Team Clark’s guide to the best cell phone plans and deals!