In this day and age, a good phone plan is almost a prerequisite for survival. Our phones are an integral part of life at home and work, and the service we get from them must be consistent and reliable.
Unfortunately, no singular phone plan beats out all the competition. Instead, dozens of plans are viable depending on what you are trying to accomplish.
While phone plans used to revolve around talk and text, the emergence of smartphones as our primary form of communication has opened up a ton of different necessities, including internet access, data capability, app compatibility, and storage space.
Everyone will have different needs regarding their phone plan, so here are some tips on choosing the right option for you.
Common Questions About Smartphones
If you want to understand how to choose a phone plan, you need to know how smartphones work. While a standard phone might have basic internet capabilities, its primary function is to connect to a carrier network so that you can call and text people.
What differentiates a smartphone is that it runs off of a complex mobile operating system and functions as a miniature computer.
In addition to being phones, smartphones let you take photos and videos, navigate with GPS, listen to music, and browse the internet.
Any new phone you can think of works this way, from a prepaid Samsung Galaxy S22 to the iPhone 12 you can pick up with a data plan in-store at Best Buy. Whether it’s a new iPhone or a used Android phone, new customers will usually be able to get unlimited data and hotspot functionality from the moment of activation.
As a result, the plans surrounding these complicated devices have evolved considerably in the last ten years. Everything from prices to how we upgrade phones has adapted to make smartphones the world’s primary form of mobile devices.
When Should I Upgrade My Phone?
Smartphones aren’t meant to last forever, and with the speed of innovation, it is best practice to change phones every few years. The question is, how often should you be upgrading your phone?
Some programs allow you to use your payments on your current phone to work towards upgrading credit. Many carriers and companies offer upgrade programs that let you engage in monthly payments with regular upgrades.
For example, Apple has an iPhone upgrade program where you pay $35.33 per month with yearly iPhone upgrades. Carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile offer similar programs, and your chosen program will determine how often you get upgrades.
An excellent way to tell if your smartphone is obsolete is by seeing whether or not the features on your phone are being phased out. For example, 3G is currently being phased out, meaning that phones that are not 5G compatible will only have access to 4G.
A good indicator that your smartphone needs an upgrade is if your phone stops getting upgrades. If your phone cannot handle any new updates, the device is becoming obsolete and will soon be incompatible with modern software.
Additionally, compatibility with accessories should factor into your decision. For instance, newer iPhones like the iPhone 14 Pro Max will offer more compatibility with items like the Apple Watch, AirPods, and iPads than an older iPhone 11. Similarly, the newer Motorola Moto G will be able to function with the Moto G Stylus, whereas older Motorola devices won’t.
Should I Buy From a Carrier or Directly From the Manufacturer (Unlocked)?
Different carriers sell overlapping phone models, but they will be locked to that company when you buy a phone from a particular carrier. When you purchase a phone directly from the manufacturer, you buy an unlocked phone.
Purchasing your phone through a carrier has many benefits, namely that they tend to have several discounts that you can take advantage of. Carriers tend to offer deals, limited-time offers, or promos that let you pay monthly bills much more appealing than what you would get from a manufacturer.
Another benefit is that you can quickly go to that carrier’s store for mobile support. It can be easier to find a carrier store than to find a store for a manufacturer, and the option for accessible support is a big help.
Which Phone Should I Buy?
There are a ton of phones out there that you can buy, and they all have pros and cons. Choosing a phone is just as hard as choosing a plan, so it is just as important to understand your preferences when selecting your mobile device. You shouldn’t choose a cell phone plan without ensuring you are content with a compatible phone.
Different phones have different deals depending on your chosen carrier, so it is good to check what your carriers offer. Some prioritize high-speed data, while others want extra features and battery life.
Your plan and phone work together to give you the best possible experience. For example, a fantastic 5G network carrier will only reach its full potential with a 5G-compatible phone.
What Are the Best Cell Phone Deals of 2023?
The best cell phone deals change, and keeping up with the different promotions and markdowns can be challenging. Here are some of the best cell phone deals of 2023.
Best iPhone Deals
Some of the best iPhone deals right now are coming through Verizon. You can get up to $1000 off any iPhone 14 model when you sign up for an unlimited 5G plan and trade in an eligible device.
If you are okay going back a generation, you could get the iPhone 13 for free through the Verizon without making any trade-in. Once again, this does require an unlimited plan through Verizon.
AT&T takes it a step further, offering the newest iPhone 14 free as part of its trade-in program.
Best Samsung Deals
Samsung has an extensive catalog of phones that you can get a discount on in 2023. Through AT&T, you can get up to $800 off any of the S23 series. All you need to do is purchase a qualifying installment plan and trade in an eligible phone.
If you want to pay through Samsung directly, you can get $225 off the Galaxy Z Fold4 or a $50 instant Samsung credit with the Z Flip4.
Through Verizon, you can upgrade to a Galaxy Z Flip4, Fold4, or S22 series phone through their trade-in plan. Under this deal, you can get up to $1,000 off any of these phones.
Best Pixel Deals
With Verizon, you can get your hands on a Google Pixel 7 for $5 per month with select unlimited plans if you open a new line of service. In addition, if you switch to Verizon from a competing carrier, you can get a $200 Verizon gift card that you can put toward your phone.
AT&T has a similar plan where you can get the Pixel for $10 per month with eligible unlimited plans.
What Are the Best Phone Plan Deals?
The most important thing to look for in a phone plan is compatibility with your phone. The most significant telecommunications companies are compatible with all the best phones, but it is still vital to ensure you are thorough in your check.
Verizon’s Unlimited Plus plan is pricey but jam-packed with optionally available add-ons and features. This plan specifically leans into its perks more than any other phone plan. With the Unlimited Plus plan, you can access Disney Plus, ESPN Plus, Hulu, TravelPass, Apple Music, 2TB of Verizon Cloud storage, and more. You only have to pay for what you want, though - if you're looking for a no-frills plan with just talk, text, and data, you can choose to leave add-ons out of the equation and just pay the baseline price of $80/month for single lines.
No other plan offers this many additions to a vast 5G network with unlimited talk, text, and data.
The T-Mobile Go5G plan knocks it out of the park, especially for family units. The family plan for the Go5G plan is relatively cheap compared to its contemporaries, but the addition of Netflix basic makes it a much more worthwhile investment.
The AT&T Unlimited Extra plan costs $40 per month with four lines, and it offers the basic features you would expect from an unlimited plan plus a subscription to Google Stadia. This is a little less popular than the perks with T-Mobile and Verizon, but AT&T is a tried and true company with the most extensive network.
While the other Unlimited plans from AT&T lag behind a little, the Unlimited Extra plan offers excellent premium data for the price.
This is an excellent all-around option for people who want the basics from a top-tier provider. It may not come with many extra features, but competing with AT&T’s basic service options is challenging.
Buying a phone and buying a phone plan are two things that need to be set up in tandem. Phone plans build on the technological advancements of our phones, and choosing phones and plans that complement each other will vastly improve the effectiveness of both.
Modern smartphones are built to be replaced and upgraded, and all of the biggest cell phone carriers sell phones that match their networks.
Buying from a carrier often includes excellent deals and customer service, while buying unlocked gives you autonomy in what you do with your phone.
There is no correct answer here, but pay attention to your preferences when picking a phone and plan. There are so many deals out there that there is no way you won’t find one that fits you.
Visit Navi for more information on the best phone deals.