Want to get the absolute best cellular plan for your Nexus 4? As all American cellular users know, carriers charge budget-breaking prices for smartphone plans. The only way to save money is through cellular wholesalers who lease broadcast spectrum from the major networks and sell to the little guy at a substantial discount. Yeah, I know it sounds like a scam. It’s not.
Just buy the prepaid SIM card from an Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) and cut your cell bill in half.
Here’s what you need to know: The Nexus 4 only works on two major American networks: AT&T and T-Mobile. Therefore you need to buy a SIM from an MVNO (or from T-Mobile’s prepaid division), that leases spectrum from that particular network – I’ve marked each MVNO by network. If your area is outside of coverage, then you won’t be able to use a Nexus 4, without setting up a SIP phone, such as Talkatone and Viber.
Because the Nexus 4 is a GSM only phone, this list only includes Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) on the AT&T and T-Mobile networks and T-Mobile’s official prepaid service.
It’s also important to point out that AT&T generally provides better coverage and data speeds than T-Mobile. On the other hand, T-Mobile plans cost less and offer larger data caps, ranging from 2GB to unlimited.
The most important considerations of any prepaid plan are six-part: (1) the monthly costs, (2) the SIM card costs, (3) how much data you are allocated before your download speeds are reduced (throttled), (4) amount of talk time and (5) text messages and (6) other miscellaneous restrictions or issues.
I analyze all plans contained within this article by these six factors.
As the name suggests, Straight Talk provides one of the most straightforward prepaid plans. It also permits customers to pay up to a full year in advance, which lowers the monthly payments to $41.50 per month on its $45 per month plan.
T-Mobile prepaid plans provide the best value out of all the prepaid plans. Also, it’s possible to convert the lavish 5 gigabyte data cap into voice minutes, at the expense of call quality, by using apps such as Talkatone.
Ultra’s more expensive unlimited plans do not compete on favorable terms with either T-Mobile or Straight Talk. However, it recently introduced an inexpensive lower-rung plan that provides relatively good value for those who use their phone infrequently.
Ptel offers acceptable unlimited plans, but its best value comes from its “pay-as-you-go” plans. It takes first place in lowest cost per month, at $10 every two months to maintain service – this payment accrues in your account. Using the phone subtracts money from your account in the following rates: 10 cents per megabyte of data; 5 cents per minute of pro-rated talk; 2 cents per text message.
Net10 recently began offering prepaid service to any GSM phone. For the AT&T network, if you pay up front, it offers the best value and largest data cap.
Good2GO offers a reasonably well priced plan on the AT&T network. It doesn’t have any drawbacks and is one of the most vanilla MVNOs available.
AirVoice provides a good middle ground between Net10 and Good2GO. It offers well-priced plans in both the 1 gigabyte and 500 megabyte data brackets. Its international SMS and calls also provide a good deal.
After getting a new SIM card, you may need to cut it down to insert it into the Nexus 4. The Nexus 4 only accepts a microSIM card (3FF). Many prepaid carriers offer miniSIM (2FF), unfortunately, which doesn’t fit in the Nexus 4. Cutting it down requires only one of the following methods, in order of efficacy:
Out of the four methods, the most accurate will be using the SIM card cutter. Using some of the other methods may result in a damaged SIM card, or improper fit. Either may cause additional issues, such as a diminished call quality, battery drain or worse. Exercise caution when cutting your card.
Pros of MVNOs
Cons of MVNOs
To read more about the benefits of MVNOs over the big four carriers, click here.
Getting a great monthly rate, with a good cellular provider will save you hundreds of dollars a year on your unlocked Nexus 4. Simply find out what major network works best for you and choose an MVNOs that leases spectrum from them.
In my experience, after carefully analyzing my data consumption and needs, the savings can add up to significant figures. I migrated to a ~$5/month pay-go plan with Ptel and saved about $240 per year in cellular costs!
If you’re seeking to protect both your wallet and phone, check out my article on the best Nexus 4 cases money can buy. Given its glass back and legendary slipperiness, protecting your phone should rank somewhere above saving money on a cellular plan.
Any other Nexus 4 owners satisfied with an MVNO or T-Mobile prepaid plan? Let us know in the comments.