2017 RANKING & REVIEWS
TOP RANKING CELL PHONE COMPANIES
What Are the Best Cell Phone Companies to Use in 2017?
The choices for good cell phone companies have come a long way in the last ten years. There used to be just a few mobile companies that you could count on for decent service, and now the options have expanded exponentially.
As mobile devices have become a necessity for nearly everyone in a household, top cell phone companies have expanded their infrastructure to ensure faster and better coverage.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) put a structure into place where wireless phone companies were encouraged to rent out and share their cell towers and connection infrastructure with other cellular companies.
Award Emblem: Top 6 Best Cell Phone Companies
It took a while for everyone to get onboard, but in 2017 there are more choices for the best cell phone company to use with decent speed and more coverage than ever before due to the tower sharing.
How Has Cell Phone Use Changed in the Last Few Years?
According to the Pew Research Center, nearly two-thirds of Americans are smartphone owners. Ten percent of Americans own a smartphone and do not have any other form of high-speed internet access, which makes finding the top phone companies to review for mobile service vitally important for them.
In our top six cell phone companies list, we will compare cell phone companies that are well-known and those cellular companies that are the lowest price with no contracts.
Everyone has different needs when it comes to their cell phone companies. So we’ll review both top mobile phone companies that are great for family plans with multiple phones as well as those that have a decent price for a single phone plan.
AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best Cell Phone Companies
List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the cellphone company names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that company):
Top 6 Cell Phone Companies | Brief Comparison & Ranking
Best Wireless Phone Companies
Cheapest Single Phone Plan w/data
Cheapest Plan with 4 Phones w/data
|Straight Talk Wireless|
Best Cell Phone Companies FAQ | What to Look for When You Compare Cell Phone Companies
It can be confusing when looking through top cell phone companies for the right plan. Some mobile companies have contracts and others don’t. Many cellular companies also offer pre-paid plans.
Image Source: Pixabay
How do you know you’re getting the right plan from one of the top phone companies and not being steered toward one more expensive than you need?
Here are a few key items you’ll want to look for when you compare cell phone companies:
You’ll want to know whether the plan has unlimited minutes for calls or is limited. Also, is nationwide calling included?
Most top mobile phone companies offer unlimited talk and text on all their plans, but not everyone.
You want to be sure you get enough data but don’t pay for more than you need. Some carriers on our cell phone companies list offer rollover options to keep unused data.
Here are some handy tools to figure out how much data you may need:
Contract or Pre-Paid
When looking for the best cell phone company for their needs, some people prefer a contract plan with all the bells and whistles, and others like the freedom of a pre-paid plan. It’s a good idea to compare.
Understand How They Handle Going Over Minutes or Data Limits
Many of the larger cell phone companies offer ways to avoid high over limit charges or handle it by reducing your data speed. Asking what happens if you go over your limits is one of the most important questions for wireless phone companies.
Best Cell Phone Companies FAQ | What’s the Difference Between G’s and GB’s?
A common question when people are comparing a cell phone companies list is what is the difference between Gs, as in 2G or 3G, and GBs, as in 5GB or 10GB. It can be confusing trying to decipher the top cell phone companies and the Gs.
The G used alone refers to the wireless Generation, and its advances in mobile internet connections. According to TurboFuture, a comparison of the last three generations in speed to download a 1.4MB webpage is:
- 2G network – 90 seconds (average speed is 125 kbps)
- 3G network – 14 seconds (average speed is 800 kbps)
- 4G network – 7 seconds (average speed is 1.5 mbps)
Image Source: Pixabay
GB stands for gigabyte, which is a measurement of space that a data file takes up. For example, if you watch lots of movies on Netflix through your phone, each large file you’re streaming is using that data space.
This is where the data calculators from cell phone companies, mentioned above, come into play to help you estimate your needs.
Things that use your GBs of data on your phone include:
- Web browsing
- Receiving and sending email
- Streaming movies or videos
- Checking social media accounts
- Listening to streaming music
- Apps that download information
You can reduce the amount of data you use through the plans from mobile companies by connecting your phone to a Wi-Fi internet connection when possible.
AdvisoryHQ’s Selection Methodology
What methodology does AdvisoryHQ use in selecting and finalizing the credit cards, financial products, firms, services, and products that are ranked on its various top-rated lists?
Please click here “AdvisoryHQ’s Ranking Methodologies” for a detailed review of AdvisoryHQ’s selection methodologies for ranking top-rated credit cards, financial accounts, firms, products, and services.
Detailed Review – Top Ranking Best Cell Phone Companies
Below, please find a detailed review of each company on our list of top ranking cell phone companies. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these wireless phone companies to score so highly in our selection ranking.
The company has an impressive history, growing from the foundation of telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell. And as cell phone companies go, they are also one of the most diversified, offering high-speed internet, next-generation TV, and other services.
When You Compare Cell Phone Companies, What Makes AT&T Stand Out on Our List of Best Cell Phone Companies?
You have multiple plan choices, including plans for gaming, tablets, and wearable devices, when you choose AT&T from the list of cell phone companies. They were also the first to offer the iPhone many years ago due to an exclusive deal with Apple.
No Overage Fees
AT&T is one of the cell phone companies that offers zero overage charges if you exceed your data limit. That’s an excellent feature, especially if you have children and teens who may not be watching their data usage.
Instead of hitting you with a big charge, they reduce your data speed when you hit your plan data limit.
AT&T, being one of the top phone companies for family plans, has several options; plus, the more phones you add, the more you save.
AT&T Mobile Share Advantage℠ (Unlimited talk and text, shared data)
- 1GB – $50/month
- 3GB – $60/month
- 6GB – $80/month
- 10GB – $100/month
- Additional phones – $20/month each
- Tablets, gaming & wearables – $10/month each
- Laptops, netbooks & hotspots – $20/month each
AT&T GoPhone® Prepaid Phone Plans (Save $5 with autopay)
- Wi-Fi Data Plan – $30/month
- Unlimited Data, 4GB – $45/month
- Unlimited Data, 8GB – $60/month
Cricket Wireless Review
Next on our list of cell phone companies to consider in 2017 is Cricket Wireless. They are one of the strictly prepaid wireless phone companies. They were founded in 1999 and became a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T in 2013.
Because of the acquisition by AT&T, Cricket Wireless became one of the cell phone companies that have network coverage in 98% of the United States.
When You Compare Mobile Companies, What Makes Cricket Cellular Stand Out on Our List of Best Cell Phone Companies?
Cricket Wireless is one of the top cell phone companies that has made pre-paid phone plans cool. There used to be a stigma attached to pre-paid cellular companies with no credit check needed, but due to their excellent coverage now, you really can’t tell the difference in service.
Easy, Straightforward Pricing
Because Cricket Wireless is one of the wireless phone companies that only does pre-paid plans, you don’t have to search through tons of options or read the fine print to figure out their prices.
They make it really easy to understand their plan pricing and the discounts you get when you add additional lines.
Pre-Paid Plans Highlights
Going pre-paid with mobile companies like Cricket doesn’t mean you have to give up any of the unlimited talk and text. You can also either buy one of their phones or bring in any unlocked phone.
Cell Phone Plans (Unlimited talk and text, data access)
- 1GB – $30/month
- 3GB, Basic – $40/month (save $5 with autopay)
- 8GB, Smart – $50/month (save $5 with autopay)
- 12GB, Pro – $60/month (save $5 with autopay)
- Unlimited Data – $70/month (save $5 with autopay)
- Save between $10 to $100 month adding 1-5 additional lines
- Add mobile hotspot – $10/month
- Add 1GB of high-speed – $10/month
Straight Talk Wireless Review
If you’ve ever walked past the electronics section at your local Walmart, then you’ve most likely seen the bright green plan cards for Straight Talk Wireless. This is another of the wireless phone companies that has become popular for their no-contract, pre-paid plans.
This company is another of the list of cell phone companies that is owned by another entity. Straight Talk is a service provided by TracFone Wireless, Inc., America’s largest no-contract cell phone provider.
Image Source: Staight Talk
When You Compare Cell Phone Companies, What Makes Straight Talk Wireless Stand Out on Our List of Top Mobile Phone Companies?
Being available at Walmart stores makes Straight Talk one of the cell phone companies that has the most convenient way to sign up. You can get a phone plan in the middle of your shopping trip.
Straight Talk is one of the best cell phone companies with an impressive network coverage. They use the same towers as other major cellular companies in order to provide an impressive 99.6% U.S. coverage.
They are also on all four major mobile companies’ networks, giving you more options when you choose new phone or bring yours in.
Straight Talk is the best cell phone company for those who like their plans as uncomplicated as possible.
Straight Talk Plans:
- 1,500 minutes, unlimited text, 100MB data – $30/month
- Unlimited talk, text, data (first 5GB high speed) – $45/month
- Unlimited talk, text, data (first 10GB high speed) – $55/month
- Unlimited International talk, text, data (first 5GB high speed) – $60/month
The next company on our top cell phone companies list is T-Mobile®. They are instantly recognizable from the masterful marketing of the dark pink hue associated with their best cell phone company brand.
T-Mobile® is headquartered in Bellevue, Washington and is one of the top phone companies in the U.S. by number of subscribers. They come in right behind AT&T, at number three in the U.S. on the top list of cell phone companies, with 71.5 million subscribers.
When You Compare Top Cell Phone Companies, What Makes T-Mobile® Stand Out on Our List of Best Cell Phone Companies?
One big bragging right that T-Mobile® has as a best cell phone company is in the customer service department. They’ve had the highest ranked customer service performance among full service wireless phone companies, as awarded by J.D. Power, for three years in a row.
When you’re looking through a list of cell phone companies, anyone with great deals is going to stand out. And T-Mobile® lists a “deals” page right on their main menu bar.
Some of the specials offered by this best cell phone company are:
- 2 unlimited lines for $100
- Money back on smartphones
- Switch to T-Mobile® and get a $600 pre-paid card
- Earn a free tablet
This is one of the mobile companies that has a confusing plans page when you try to research pricing. It isn’t quite as easy to navigate as some of the formats on websites of other top cell phone companies.
T-Mobile® One Plans (Unlimited talk, text, and data)
- 1 line – $70/month
- 2 lines – $50/month each
- 3 lines – $47/month each
- 4 lines – $40/month each
- Table line – $20/month each
- Wearables line – $5/month each
- Laptops, netbooks & hotspots – $20/month each
- Wireless Home Phone – $20/month each
- Unlimited web & text, 100 minutes talk – $30/month
- 3GB, unlimited – $40/month
- 5GB, unlimited – $50/month
- 10GB, unlimited – $60/month
U.S. Cellular Review
U.S. Cellular is the 5th largest of the full-service cell phone companies in the United States. They are headquartered in Chicago, IL, and currently, 99 percent of their customers have access to 4G LTE speeds.
This is another of the top mobile phone companies with customer service excellence awards. U.S.Cellular was named a J.D. Power and Associates Customer Champion in 2014 for the third time in four years.
When You Look at Cell Phone Companies, What Makes U.S. Cellular Stand Out on Our List of Best Wireless Phone Companies?
When you’re on the U.S. Cellular website, one thing that immediately stands out is that they’re one of the cell phone companies that focuses on the family. They have a Home Solutions page with family-friendly security items.
Phones for a Penny and Other Offers
U.S. Cellular has some great offers if you look for them. This best cell phone company offers certain smartphones for just a penny. What a deal!
A few of their other offers include money when you switch wireless phone companies to them, and a Refer-A-Friend special that gives you each $50.
U.S. Cellular is one of the top phone companies that offers business plans as well as invidual, shared, and pre-paid plans.
Individual Plans (Unlimited talk and text, data access)
- 6GB – $55/month
- Home Phone, unlimited voice only – $19.99/month
Shared Data Plans (Unlimited talk and text, shared data)
Business Plans have the same pricing
- 2GB – $35/month
- 5GB – $50/month
- 12GB – $60/month
- 24GB – $80/month
- 36GB – $100/month
- Additional phones – $20/month each
- Additonal tablets – $10/month each
- Mobile hotspot – $10/month each
Pre-Paid Plans (Unlimited talk and text, data access)
- 500MB – $35/month
- 3GB – $45/month
- 6GB – $60/month
- 12GB – $75/month
Verizon Wireless Review
The last on our list of cell phone companies to consider for the best plans in 2017 is Verizon Wireless. The company has an interesting origin story that started in 2000. It was created through one of the largest mergers in history between Bell Atlantic Corp. and GTE Corp.
They are another of the wireless phone companies that is on the top five cell phone companies list with the most subscribers. Verizon Wireless is number one, with 143.9 million subscribers.
When You Compare Top Phone Companies, What Makes Verizon Wireless Stand Out on Our List of Best Cell Phone Companies?
Image Source: Verizon
There’s no doubt that Verizon Wireless is one of the cell phone companies with the largest choice of cell phone brands. Their options include 11 different major brand options. They even let you bring your own device and get a free SIM card.
Cool Phone Accessories
You know that Verizon, given its size, is one of the best cell phone companies to choose if you want something from the largest range of cool phone accessories.
Verizon has one completely unlimited plan that includes unlimited data. That’s unusual for most cellular companies and makes their Unlimited very attractive.
Verizon Unlimited (Unlimited talk, text, and data)
- 1 line – $80/month
- 2 lines – $70/month each
- 3 lines – $54/month each
- 4 lines – $45/month each
Verizon Non-Unlimited Data Plans (Unlimited talk & text, data access)
- 2GB – $35/month
- 4GB – $50/month
- 8GB – $70/month
Verizon Pre-Paid Plans
- 2GB – $40/month
- 5GB – $50/month
- 10GB – $70/month
Conclusion – Top 6 Best Cell Phone Companies
In 2017, good service and adequate coverage have become less of a deciding factor between the top wireless phone companies. This is because with so many mobile companies now sharing the same towers, nearly all top cell phone companies have excellent reach and service.
The days of “Can you hear me now?” look to be long gone. So that makes other factors more important when you’re choosing between cell phone companies.
Pricing is always at the top when people review a cell phone companies list for their phone service. Most of the wireless phone companies on our top six list have competitive rates for both family lines and single phones.
Whether you’re just looking for yourself or have a whole family that needs wireless service, one of these cell phone companies on our Top 6 Ranking for 2017 should give you some excellent options to meet your data needs and more.
AdvisoryHQ (AHQ) Disclaimer:
Reasonable efforts have been made by AdvisoryHQ to present accurate information, however all info is presented without warranty. Review AdvisoryHQ’s Terms for details. Also review each firm’s site for the most updated data, rates and info.
Note: Firms and products, including the one(s) reviewed above, may be AdvisoryHQ's affiliates. Click to view AdvisoryHQ's advertiser disclosures.