Verizon Wireless outclasses other nationwide carriers in terms of call quality and LTE coverage, earning it lots of praise from experts and users. However, plans can be pricey and customer service isn't always as helpful as it could be.
Share and share alike. Verizon wireless subscribers don't have to buy a data package. Basic phone users can purchase a talk and text only phone plan (Est. $40 per month) for 700 talk minutes and unlimited text. The alternative is a Share Everything plan that includes unlimited talk and text plus a data pool that can be shared by up to 10 devices. Pricing varies depending on the size of the data allotment you select and the number and types of devices in your plan. For example, a plan with one smartphone and 2 GB of data costs $100 monthly, while a plan with two smartphones, a tablet and a 6 GB data package will cost $170. There is no unlimited data plan.
You can opt for a two-year contract and receive a subsidy on your phone, or go month-to-month and pay full retail. You also pay full price for a phone under the carrier's free Edge upgrade program, which lets you trade in your phone after six months and then annually thereafter. But while Edge does away with a long-term (two-year) service contract, it does require a two-year phone purchase agreement: You must pay off the cost of the phone in 24 monthly installments, with any remaining cost of the phone due immediately should you discontinue Verizon service. Verizon is the only national provider that does not offer lower service prices for those on early upgrade plans and other plans that do not include subsidized phones.
Fast and reliable. Both experts and customers report the best coverage and the fewest dropped calls with Verizon Wireless. PCMag.com readers rank Verizon best among national cellular service providers, and just behind regional carrier U.S. Cellular, due to its best-in-class coverage and good call quality. Verizon's reliability is also well above average. In the J.D. Power and Associates' survey of more than 27,000 cell phone users, Verizon Wireless ranks at the top for network quality in five out of six geographic regions, losing only to U.S. Cellular in the North Central region. The survey also highlights Verizon's consistency of excellent performance, as the carrier has won in the Northeast region for 17 reporting periods straight.
Iffy ratings. On the downside, Verizon Wireless's customer support gets mediocre scores. It rates above average for customer service at J.D. Power and Associates, landing in second place behind Sprint Nextel, but average or below in other big customer surveys. User feedback includes tales of long wait times to speak to a customer rep, "condescending" customer support and repeated hang-ups when trying to get help.
Top-notch selection. Verizon offers a handful of basic phones from Samsung, LG and Pantech and more than 30 smartphones, including the Apple iPhone 5s (Est. $200 with two-year contract, $650 without contract, $27 monthly with Verizon Edge) and a multitude of high-end Android devices. Tablets and other mobile devices are also available. Those who want the latest phones as soon as they come out can take advantage of Verizon's Edge phone-upgrade plan, although critics question the value of that and similar programs.
1. J.D. Power & Associates
For more than 27,000 respondents to this 2013 survey, Verizon Wireless ranks highest in the northeastern United States and four other regions, losing to U.S. Cellular only in the North Central U.S. Verizon has fewer customer reports of dropped calls, transmission failures and late text messages than the regional averages.
Review: 2013 U.S. Wireless Network Quality Performance Study – Vol. 1, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, March 7, 2013
2. J.D. Power & Associates
More than 7,000 wireless phone users responded to J.D. Power and Associates' Customer Care Survey. For the fourth straight year, Verizon Wireless comes out on top, earning the highest marks for service calls that began in the automatic response system and were then transferred to a live customer service representative.
Review: 2013 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Full-Service Performance Study – Vol. 1, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, Feb. 6, 2013
3. J.D. Power & Associates
In the 2013 Purchase Experience Study of full-service wireless carriers from J.D. Power and Associates, more than 8,500 respondents rated their customer purchase experience in phone calls with sales reps, visits to a retail store and online. Verizon's customers were satisfied to an average degree, putting it in the middle of the pack of cell phone service providers.
Review: 2013 Wireless Purchase Experience Full-Service Study – Vol. 2, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, Aug. 15, 2013
ConsumerReports.org polls more than 58,000 of its subscribers, asking them to rate their cell service for value, voice/text/data service and customer support. Each carrier, including Verizon Wireless, gets an overall score and a separate rating in each of 23 major cities.
Review: Overall Cell Phone Service Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, September 2013
In this reader survey of cell phone users, Verizon comes in second to U.S. Cellular, but with above-average ratings in all categories including call quality, network reliability and coverage. Verizon earns slightly higher marks than U.S. Cellular for data network speed, but scores the lowest with respect to its fees.
Review: Readers' Choice Awards 2013: Smartphones and Mobile Carriers, Ben Gottesman, March 13, 2013
TopTenReviews.com names Verizon as the best cell phone provider overall, with the highest ratings for plans and support but one of the lowest ratings for fees. Call quality is not rated. A detailed comparison chart lets you compare features offered by each carrier.
Review: Verizon Wireless, Editors of TopTenReviews.com, Not dated
7. Laptop Magazine
Cherlynn Low from Laptop Magazine highlights Verizon's Edge phone-upgrade plan as the best choice for those who are concerned with access to 4G LTE speeds. You can upgrade your phone after six months of subscribing to the plan, sooner than with AT&T and Sprint. However, the plan is more costly than similar programs offered by other carriers.
Review: Phone Upgrade Plans: Sprint vs. AT&T vs. Verizon vs. T-Mobile, Cherlynn Low, Sept. 20, 2013
About.com's Sam Costello looks at a number of factors in deciding which carrier is best for the iPhone. Verizon wins in the areas of two-year contract and phone cost, coverage and network quality, and 4G speed and coverage.
Review: Verizon vs AT&T vs T-Mobile vs Sprint: Which to Choose for iPhone, Sam Costello, Nov. 25, 2013
9. My Rate Plan
According to this press release, the Verizon Wireless Share Everything plan comes in third place in MyRatePlan.com's 2013 best wireless plan list. The site's wireless industry analysts highlight Verizon's ability to allow family members to pool their minutes and data.
Review: Best Wireless Plans of 2013, According to MyRatePlan.com, Editors of MyRatePlan.com, April 18, 2013
More than 875 people give Verizon Wireless an overall score of 75 out of 100, rating it higher than other service providers. Verizon's coverage earns rave reviews, as do its call options. Its plan options and customer service, however, leave much to be desired.
Review: Verizon Wireless Network Reviews, Contributors to Viewpoints.com, As of December 2013
More than 100 contributors to Epinions.com share their views of Verizon's customer service, and as a group, they are not fans. The carrier's score of 1.5 stars out of 5 reflects users' general dissatisfaction, although some complaints address other Verizon products rather than its wireless service.
Review: General Reviews of Verizon Customer Service, Contributors to Epinions.com, As of December 2013