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No-contract mobile plans compared: Verizon Edge, AT&T Next, T-Mobile Jump

Ian Paul | July 19, 2013
Competition intensifies among wireless carriers.

The extra cost for Jump lets you switch phones twice a year and also insures your phone against loss, theft, and damage. So even if you smash that beautiful S4 on the pavement, you can still switch it out for a new device. You do have to pay an insurance deductible.

AT&T Next: AT&T offers the same retail price for the Galaxy S4 as T-Mobile, but with a 20-month payment plan, you'll pay $32 every 30 days. Next does not require a down payment on the device.

Using AT&T, you get a better price with its Mobile Share plans compared to the carrier's individual plans. The cheapest plan AT&T offers includes unlimited talk and text plus 1GB of data for $85 per month.

First month total cost: $117

Total monthly cost: $117 ($32 for phone, $85 for service)

Total cost after six months: $702

Ability to make a switch: once every twelve months

Verizon Edge:  Verizon is a little more expensive for the Galaxy S4 with a list price of $650, which works out to about $27.08 per month. For convenience's sake, let's call it an even $27 and assume you'll pay the extra $1.92 when you switch phones.

Verizon has done away with its individual plan options, so we'll have to choose one of its Share Everything plans. The lowest reasonable plan we can get is $90 per month.

Like AT&T Next, Verizon isn't asking for a first-time down payment, but you do have to pay the first monthly phone payment at the time of purchase. Verizon did not specify whether activation fees were waived.

First month total cost: $117

Total monthly cost: $117 ($27 for phone, $90 for service)

Total cost after six months: $702 (if you want to switch phones at this point, add another $163, which is the balance of your 50 percent that has to be paid off before you can make the switch.)

Ability to make a switch: every six months if device is 50 percent paid off

Who wins?
Overall, Verizon and AT&T are slightly more expensive options compared to T-Mobile after six months of service. T-Mobile not only gives you a cheaper price, but the carrier offers a larger data allowance. That extra $10 per month you pay for Jump also protects you from clumsy hands, unintended dips in the swimming pool, and other accidents that may befall your device.

But whether T-Mobile is a realistic option for you depends on the carrier's network coverage in your area.

Also keep in mind that even though you save an extra $52 over the first six months with T-Mobile, you'll still have to make another device down payment when you switch, which will add another $150 to $200 to your annual cost. AT&T and Verizon don't require a down payment for their devices.

 

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