Simple Mobile review: Things to know before you sign up

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Simple Mobile review
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Mobile phone plan prices have become increasingly competitive of late, with many carriers offering more choices than never before. One of the more popular discount carriers is Simple Mobile. The MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) launched in 2009 and advertises plans as low as $25 a month for unlimited data.

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

Here are some things to know about Simple Mobile

Simple Mobile doesn’t sell the latest phones, so they’re not exactly taking on the major carriers. They do, however, have a Deals page where later-model phones can be bought.

Where the company has really focused its attention recently is on appealing to international travelers. Many of Simple Mobile’s plans cater to international callers who want to pre-pay and are conscious of price.

When it comes to their “unlimited” options, it’s safe to say that Simple Mobile’s three cheapest plans are unlimited in name only. They all come with speeds up to 4G LTE, but the throttling down to 2G is can be painful for data users.

Speaking of 4G, DigitalTrends.com puts it best when it says that touting LTE technology is “a marketing technique” that allows carriers to “claim next-gen connectivity without having to reach the actual required number first; it would be like the U.S. claiming they had landed on the moon because they got pretty close and the spaceship that got them there was a lot better than the previous ship. It’s not entirely trickery though, despite inconsistent speeds depending on location and network, the difference between 3G and 4G is immediately noticeable.”

What plans does Simple Mobile offer?

Simple offers five data plans, all of them pre-paid for 30 days and “unlimited.” Here they are:

  • 3 GB: $26 gives you unlimited talk, text and international text (on sale for $25 until September 30, 2018).
  • 2 GB: $30 gives you unlimited international talk to more than 60 nations.
  • 6 GB: $40 gives you international roaming in Mexico, Dominican Republic and other Latin American countries.
  • Truly Unlimited: $50 gives you some international credits in foreign countries and no throttling.
  • Truly Unlimited: $60 gives you 4 gigabyte speed, 10 gigs for a hotspot and no throttling.

The carrier runs on T-Mobile’s network

Like MetroPCS, Simple runs on T-Mobile’s network. That means there should be little problem with coverage, given T-Mobile’s vast infrastructure.

It’s worth noting that T-Mobile’s recently struck a deal with Nokia to build a $3.5 billion 5G network.

In most cases, you can keep your old phone & number

You should be able to keep your old phone and its number in most cases. To switch to Simple, you will need an unlocked phone. That means you can’t be under contract with any of the major carriers.

It’s also important to know that Simple Mobile works with all of the new iPhones and Androids, so there’s no problem buying a new phone and worrying about whether the device will work.

You’re not locked into a contract

Unlike many of the major carriers, with Simple Mobile there are no contracts or anything that lock you into a long-term relationship. That probably is the biggest benefit — and the company knows it. Most of its advertising trumpets this fact rather than the data plan or network coverage. If you don’t like the service after the first 30 days (or at any point), you are free to switch to another carrier.

I tried Simple Mobile for 30 days & here’s how it went

I tried Simple Mobile myself, ditching my $70 a month T-Mobile Plus One data plan to try to save about $45 a month.

I ordered the SIM card online and within a few days, it was at my doorstep.

Before you port your phone, you’ll need 2 pieces of info

After putting the SIM card in my smartphone, I followed the steps to switch over to Simple Mobile. For one of the last steps, I had to give Simple Mobile the account number associated with my old service provider. Of course, I didn’t have that with me, so I actually had to drive to my local mobile phone store and ask them for those digits.

Once I arrived back home and called up Simple Mobile again, they told me 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.

Introduction to Simple Mobile

After waiting for about 30 minutes, I was finally up in running. Honestly, I couldn’t tell a difference in service between my old service provider and Simple Mobile.

Within two days, I had exhausted my data plan and was being severely throttled. At first, 2G didn’t sound so bad, but when my smartphone took 20 seconds to open basic webpages, I felt like the days of dial-up were back.

About Simple Mobile’s app

In the Simple Mobile app, there’s an option to add 1.5G of data for $10, so that’s what I hurriedly 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.

In those early days, I learned my way around the Simple Mobile app (which is serviceable, but glitchy) quite a bit. When I tried to edit my plan to change it, I kept getting an error message. Don’t worry, I’ve reported the problem and hopefully someone will get back to me.

Screen shot of Simple Mobile app

Inside the app, you can access a messaging feature with connects you to the Simple Mobile site. To their credit, an agent immediately responds (or did for me, at least).

About Simple Mobile’s customer service

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.

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

The Simple Mobile rep also 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.

So, is Simple Mobile right for you? If you want to pay for service month to month, don’t need to do much more than talk and text, and are content to handle all of your customer service online or via phone, 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 with a major carrier. It’s just that Simple.

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Craig Johnson is a conscious money-saver who still reads paperback books and listens to vinyl. He likes to write about how technology is making things easier and more affordable — but also sometimes more dangerous — for the modern consumer. You can reach Craig at [email protected]
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