AT&T's nationwide coverage and wide selection of prepaid monthly and pay-as-you-go plans are attractive. But so-so network quality, relatively high cost and meager phone selection leave experts and users disappointed.
Wide selection of plans. AT&T offers both pay-as-you-go and monthly plans. Pay-as-you-go users can choose between a $2 plan that allows unlimited talk and text, but charges you $2 on any day you use your phone. Otherwise, calls are 10 cents per minute, while texts are 20 cents each, though frequent texters can lower the cost by selecting a text package (Est. $4.99 per month and up). Basic-feature phone monthly plans start at $25 for 250 minutes of talk and unlimited texts and run to $50 per month for unlimited calls, unlimited texts and unlimited data/mobile web. Smartphone users can choose between a $60 monthly plan that includes unlimited calls and texts, plus 2 GB of data, or a $40 plan that caps data at 200 MB. Extra data is pricey, especially for the $40 plan ($5 per 100 MB). Also available is a $50 plan that includes unlimited talk and text, but Wi-Fi access only for data. Finally, a $25 smartphone plan includes 250 minutes and unlimited text, with data packages an add-on at $5 per 50 MB.
Nationwide coverage, but only average quality. AT&T GoPhone uses the AT&T network, which ensures nationwide coverage. However, its performance receives average reviews and leaves something to be desired. Editors at TopTenReviews.com like GoPhone's live-chat feature and say that the free mobile-to-mobile calling within the AT&T network could save you money. However, user contributors to PrepaidReviews.com complain about poor reception throughout the network.
For prepaid users, customer service still lags. AT&T's traditional plans have seen some improvement in customer service surveys, but that's yet to be reflected in surveys that concentrate on the carrier's prepaid offerings. In user reviews, complaints that the quality of AT&T GoPhone customer service is poor are commonplace.
Modest selection. AT&T GoPhone offers only a limited selection of smartphones and basic phones, and some are refurbished or certified like new. There are no iPhones, but some LTE-capable Android phones, like the Samsung Galaxy Note II (Est. $650), and Windows 8 phones, like the Nokia Lumia 520 (Est. $100), are available.
ConsumerReports.org ranks AT&T's prepaid wireless service against competitors from Consumer Cellular, T-Mobile, TracFone, Verizon and Virgin Mobile. Ratings are based on feedback from more than 58,000 cell phone users.
Review: Cell Phones and Services, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, September 2013
This article details the PCMag.com 2013 Readers' Choice Awards for overall satisfaction with cell phones and cell phone service. In the prepaid category, AT&T is in fourth place out of five providers, just ahead of T-Mobile. AT&T's marks overall are about average, with its highest marks for coverage and its lowest marks for fees.
Review: Readers' Choice Awards 2013: Smartphones and Mobile Carriers, Ben Gottesman, March 13, 2013
AT&T's GoPhone prepaid service is rated ninth in TopTenReviews.com's current roundup of cell phone services, with fairly strong marks for its features and phone selection. Editors like its daily, monthly and pay-as-you-go plans but state that its phone selection is "unimaginative." AT&T GoPhone doesn't offer roaming.
Review: 2014 Best Prepaid Cell Phone Reviews and Comparisons, Editors of TopTenReviews.com, Not Dated
Editors at PrepaidReviews.com give the AT&T GoPhone a 4-star (out of 5) rating based on coverage and plan options. They also like the great selection of handsets. Over 900 users, on the other hand, give the AT&T GoPhone a low 2-star rating, with poor reception and inadequate customer service among the most common complaints.
Review: AT&T Go Phone Prepaid Cellphone Plans, Editors of and Contributors to PrepaidReviews.com, As of December 2013