Last updated on Dec 20, 2019

AT&T Wireless Review

Reliable cellular coverage with outstanding sign-up perks ​
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AT&T

  • 1st 5G network to surpass 1 Gigabit wireless speeds
  • 2nd largest 4G coverage in the country
  • 50+ channels of live TV included with Unlimited & More plans
  • Up to 9 GB of additional data on Mobile Share Plus plan
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How we Reviewed AT&T

1 week of research

50 states served

6 plans evaluated

AT&T Review

With download speeds up to 20 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 has 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 Plus plans that include incentives like Rollover Data and hotspot tethering.

The Claim

AT&T claims that you’ll get “unlimited entertainment on the nation’s best network.”

Is It True?

Yes and no. According to a September 2018 Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) OneScore Ranking, AT&T was recognized as having the best U.S. network. This is high praise considering just how substantial the evaluation was, with millions performance tests in all 50 states (plus Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Check out the national wireless-coverage map.

The term “unlimited entertainment” might ring true if it’s referring to all the entertaining possibilities you can find on the network. However, if we’re talking about the “unlimited 4G LTE Data” available in the Unlimited & More plans, that’s not quite the case. Though AT&T doesn’t charge overage fees, it will throttle speeds if you use up all your data for the month. In the case of the Unlimited & More Premium plan, you might start to see slower speeds after 22 GB. It’s still possible to do basic web browsing and check your email, but streaming entertainment and using apps might be more of a challenge.

Product Overview

Best for

Heavy internet users and cord cutters

Not for

Those looking for cheap family plans

AT&T Features

Price
$50 – $190 per month (depending on how many lines)
Available plans
· Mobile Share Plus 3 GB
· Mobile Share Plus 9GB
· Unlimited & More
· Unlimited & More Premium
Standout features
· No overage fees
· Unlimited talk, text and web browsing
· Rollover data
· Hotspot tethering
· Entertainment options
Number of states served
50 states
Network reliability
93.2 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

Data as of 12/20/2019

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 — HBO, Cinemax, SHOWTIME, STARZ, VRV, Pandora Premium or Spotify Premium — at no extra cost.

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 Plus 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 you use 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.

Customer Service

J.D. Power surveyed 12,467 customers from January 2019 through June 2019 to get an accurate gauging of customer care experiences across twelve different criteria (phone customer service reps, in-store contact, online chat, email, social media posts, carrier app question post, automated telephone systems, website search, user forum, social media search, video from carrier, and carrier app search). AT&T rated 2/5 on the 2019 Wireless Customer Care Full-Service Performance Study, scoring 788/1000 points, eighteen points below the average.

The Competition

AT&T
Verizon Wireless
T-Mobile
Sprint
Our Review
Our Review
Our Review
No overage fees
Streaming/
entertainment service included
Watch TV
Apple Music
Netflix
Hulu (Tidal with Unlimited Plus plan)
Unlimited talk and text
Data cap
22 GB on Unlimited plans
· 25 GB on Beyond Unlimited plan
· 75 GB on Get More Unlimited plan
50 GB on T-Mobile One plan
50 GB on Unlimited plans
Rootmetrics overall performance score
93.2
94.8
86.9
86.7
J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Full-Service Performance Study (part 2)
788/1,000
824/1,000
847/1,000
758/1,000
J.D. Power Power Circle Ratings
2/5
4/5
5/5
2/5

Data as of 12/20/2019

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, only select unlimited plans include an Apple Music subscription for the duration of your contract. If those entertainment perks 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 for all unlimited plans, except the Essentials plan.

AT&T vs. Sprint

A huge bonus with Sprint is the Hulu subscription for all Unlimited plans, and the Tidal music subscription if you opt for Unlimited Plus. If you do a lot of browsing on your mobile devices, the Unlimited Plus plan also comes with a 50 GB LTE Mobile Hotspot. You will have to deal with Sprint’s inconsistent speeds (even in cities), but it’s worth considering if you do a lot of browsing and streaming on the go.

AT&T FAQ

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 10GB 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 35 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.

What is the cheapest AT&T plan?

AT&T offers four plans, listed below from cheapest to most expensive:

  • AT&T Mobile Share Plus 3GB — $50 per line/per month
  • AT&T Mobile Share Plus 9 GB — $60 per line/per month
  • AT&T Unlimited & More — $70 per line/per month
  • AT&T Unlimited & More Premium — $80 per line/per month

These prices are only for a single line. AT&T allows you to customize each of these plans based on the number of lines you need. The more lines you add, the more expensive these plans can get.

While the current, cheapest package from AT&T is the AT&T Mobile Share Plus 3GB (single line), that may not be the best option for anyone searching for a family plan. In fact, when shopping for a package, it would make more sense to search for the packages that meet your needs and then compare the costs.

Does AT&T offer any discounts?

Yes. AT&T offers discounts to active military members, veterans, and first responders. Also eligible for discounts: Union members, qualified government employees, AARP members, select schools, employers, and associations (check your eligibility here) as well as special plans for senior citizens.

What is the Choose One entertainment perk?

The Choose One perk is only available on AT&T’s Unlimited & More Premium plan. The perk allows you to choose one of seven music, movie, or entertainment options at no additional cost. The options are some of the leading entertainment platforms in the country: HBO, Cinemax, SHOWTIME, STARZ, VRV, Pandora Premium or Spotify Premium.

Does AT&T require a credit check?

Yes… and no. AT&T offers prepaid options that do not require a credit check. However, for the other plans, entertainment products, and service options, AT&T mandates that a credit check is performed.

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.

About the Authors

The Reviews.com staff is dedicated to providing you with all the deep-dive details. Our writers, researchers, and editors came together from Charlotte, Seattle, San Juan, Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, San Diego, and Chicago to put this review together.