AT&T Review

With download speeds up to 12 Mbps, AT&T consistently ranks as one of the fastest 4G networks around. While Verizon Wireless does score higher in most neutral tests, AT&T’s added several perks recently to make it a more attractive wireless option for cord cutters. You can get over 30 channels of live TV and movies when you sign up for one of its Unlimited cell phone plans, plus one of seven additional entertainment options if you go with the Unlimited & More Premium plan. But if you’re only paying for a single line and aren’t interested in all the bells and whistles, AT&T also has Mobile Share Flex plans that include incentives like Rollover Data and hotspot tethering.

The Claim

AT&T promises no overage fees when you “talk, text and surf.”

Is It True?

Yes. All of AT&T’s cell phone plans come with a zero overage guarantee, meaning you can stream your favorite shows, text and talk without worrying about additional fees. This is a huge perk if you’re on a family plan or have a tendency to exceed your monthly data allowance toward the end of the billing cycle.

Though AT&T doesn’t charge overage fees, it will throttle speeds to 128 Kbps if you use up all your data for the month. It’s still possible to do basic web browsing and check your email, but streaming entertainment and using apps will be much more of a challenge. That being said, slowed service might not be nearly as frustrating as having to pay extra for additional data if you’re someone who doesn’t generally do too much streaming to begin with.

Product Overview

Best for

Heavy internet users and cord cutters

Not for

Those looking for cheap family plans

AT&T Features


Price range for one line

$45 - $120 per month

Available plans
· 1 GB
· 5 GB
· 10 GB
· 20 GB
· Unlimited & More
· Unlimited & More Premium

Standout features

· No overage fees
· Unlimited talk, text and web browsing
· Rollover Data
· Hotspot tethering

Number of states served

50 states


Network reliability

94.1 percent (via Rootmetrics)

Early termination fee

· $325 (minus $10 for each full month of completed service commitment) for smartphones
· $150 (minus $4 for each full month of completed service commitment) for basic phone, tablet, mobile hotspot, AT&T wireless internet or other connected device

Streaming service included with Unlimited Plans

AT&T makes the transition from cable easier to bear by including Watch TV, its live and on-demand streaming service, with all Unlimited wireless plans. Plus, if you choose its Unlimited & More Premium plan you get access to an additional entertainment perk — like HBO or Amazon Music — at no extra cost.

$15 monthly credit toward DIRECTV NOW

AT&T’s included Watch TV streaming subscription is great, but it might not have all the channels you want. If that’s the case, AT&T still has you covered. Both Unlimited plans give you $15 off DIRECTV NOW. Its basic plan offers over 65 channels and includes a cloud-based DVR. Plus, like any streaming service, there’s no need for bulky consoles and you can cancel anytime — but with $15 off you might not want to.

No overage fees

One of AT&T’s biggest benefits is that you don’t have to worry about going over your monthly data allowance since none of its cell phone plans come with overage fees. This includes Mobile Share Flex plans, as well. Text, talk and surf the web to your heart’s content.

Unlimited texts to 120 countries

The cost of international texting can add up. AT&T includes unlimited international texting from the U.S. to over 120 countries on all plans. This is especially helpful if you have friends or family in foreign countries. You can check in on your kid while they’re studying abroad or your mom who lives in Mexico without having to worry about the bill at the end of the month.

Possible Drawbacks

Hidden data caps

It’s safe to say that any wireless carrier’s “unlimited” plan might not be as unlimited as you’d like. AT&T reserves the right to slow down your speeds after all of your monthly allotted data. If you’re looking at the Unlimited plans, this throttling happens when you exceed 22 GB of data per billing cycle. This is fairly common among mobile providers — Verizon Wireless slows down speeds during any network congestion for its cheapest unlimited plan — but it’s worth taking into consideration if you think you’ll be using this much data consistently.

Expensive

One of the biggest factors you’ll need to consider when deciding on AT&T is the cost. While it appears to be slightly cheaper than competitors like Verizon Wireless, there are some charges that effectively bring up the price. The advertised prices already include a $10 per month autopay and paperless billing discount ($20 for multiple lines), so don’t be surprised when your bill is initially more than you expected until the autopay and paperless discounts kick in. Additionally, AT&T charges a $20 per month fee for every additional line added. You won’t have to pay this if you only get one line, but if you’re looking for a family plan, be sure to factor this into your budget.

The Competition

AT&T
Verizon Wireless
T-Mobile
Sprint

No overage fees

Streaming/
entertainment service included

Watch TV
X
Netflix

Hulu (Tidal with Unlimited Plus plan)

Unlimited talk and text

Data cap

22 GB on Unlimited plans

· 22 GB on Beyond Unlimited plan
· 75 GB on Above Unlimited plan

50 GB on T-Mobile One plan

50 GB on Unlimited plans

Rootmetrics overall performance score

92.8

95.0

86.8

87.8

AT&T vs. Verizon Wireless

The closest competitor to AT&T, Verizon is generally accepted as the leader in 4G speed and reliability. The prices are pretty comparable to AT&T, but Verizon doesn’t offer any additional perks like DIRECTV NOW and HBO. If those aren’t important to you, though, you’re better off opting for Verizon’s slightly better coverage.

AT&T vs. T-Mobile

The data plans are generally a little slower and cheaper than AT&T, but T-Mobile is a great choice for people living in cities, as that’s where its coverage is strongest. It’s been known to struggle in rural areas, but that reputation has started to shift in recent years. As PC Mag reported in June 2017, “Our studies show that you don't need to worry about that anymore, unless you're in Wyoming or a few other rural areas.” We loved how T-Mobile added in a free Netflix subscription, too.

AT&T vs. Sprint

If you’re looking for the cheapest family plan around, it’s hard to beat Sprint’s current promotion: It’s introductory offer is $22 a month per line for up to five lines for its Unlimited Plus plan. Another huge bonus is a Hulu subscription for all Unlimited plans and a Tidal music subscription if you opt for Unlimited Plus. You will have to deal with Sprint’s inconsistent speeds (even in cities), but it’s worth considering as a budget option.

AT&T FAQs

Does AT&T have data plans for tablets and other devices?

Yes. If you have a tablet or other wireless device that has 4G capabilities, you can get an AT&T DataConnect plan, which includes up to 5GB of data per month for $50. It’s important to note that, unlike its larger mobile plans, AT&T charges overage fees on the DataConnect plan.

What is AT&T Watch TV?

Watch TV is AT&T’s new streaming app. It features over 30 live TV channels like HGTV, Cartoon Network and Food Network. Watch TV also includes thousands of on-demand shows and movies. Unlike traditional cable, you can cancel anytime since there’s no contract. It also comes free with any AT&T Unlimited plan.

The Bottom Line

AT&T is a close second to Verizon Wireless when it comes to 4G speeds and availability. While it’s not significantly cheaper, some of the added perks like the Watch TV streaming service and discounts on DIRECTV NOW might make it the top pick for consumers looking to cut ties with their cable companies.