Wireless providers are a dime-a-dozen these days, especially MVNOs that piggyback off of larger networks and deliver their same coverage for less money each month.
Tello promises to offer "unbeatable prices" with no contracts, fast LTE coverage, and more, but is it really worth joining? Here's our full AC review!
Bottom line: If you're in an area with great Sprint coverage, Tello is certainly worth a look. The plans are incredibly affordable, you won't have to mess with contracts of any kind, tethering is free, and there's a pretty great referral program to boot.
- Flexible, affordable plans
- Free hotspot use
- No contracts
- Bring your own phone
- Taxes not included with monthly rates
- Data speeds can fluctuate a lot
Disclosure — Tello provided me with a data plan and compatible phone (the Samsung Galaxy S8) for the purpose of the review. All the opinions in the review are my own.
Unlike a lot of carriers that think unlimited plans are the way of the future, Tello gives you a lot of customization over your plan.
When picking a Tello plan, it's broken up into choosing how much data and minutes of calling you want. As long as you have a plan with some amount of minutes, you get free unlimited texting including by default.
Plans start at $5/month for 500 MB of data and no minutes (or 100 minutes and no data), the most expensive plan caps out at just $39/month for unlimited data and minutes, or you can find any combination in the middle that works better for you. Alternatively, if you don't feel like fine-turning everything yourself, Tello has a few pre-made plans you can choose from as well.
Signing up for the service and finding a plan that worked for me was about as easy as I could have asked for. I just selected the data and minutes I wanted, logged in with my Google account, confirmed the order, and I was on my way. I chose to get a new number with my plan, but like any other MVNO, Tello also allows you to transfer an existing number, too.
If there's one thing Tello does well, it's saving you money.
Your minutes can be used for making calls to the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and China, and if you want to make international calls to other countries, you'll pay a certain amount by the minute. The price does varry depending on where you're calling to, and for the most part, it's quite affordable.
- India — 1¢/minute
- United Kingdom — 0.7¢/minute
- France — 0.8¢/minute
- Japan — 2.2¢/minute
- Cuba — 65¢/minute
Hotspot/tethering use is included with every plan by default, and when considering that some other MVNOs charge as much as $10/month extra to use that, it's a pretty great freebie. You can also reconfigure your plan at any time if your usage habits change, and every 30 days, you plan will renew automatically for you.
All of this is to say that Tello Mobile is incredibly affordable. I'd prefer that taxes be included with the monthly rate similar to how Metro by T-Mobile handles things, but that's a very minor complaint compared to everything else Tello brings to the table.
No matter how cheap your monthly plan costs, it's not worth anything if you don't have access to reliable coverage.
Tello relies on the Sprint network for its service, and while Sprint isn't typically as reliable as AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon, I never had any issues with coverage here in southwest Michigan. I consistently had 3-4 bars in my apartment, with that usually increasing to 4-5 while outside.
Calls I made sounded good to both me and the people I talked to, I never had any issues with texts not sending, and for the most part, everything just worked the way you want your wireless service to. If you do ever run into issues with phone calls, all Tello plans include Wi-Fi calling at no extra charge.
To figure out if Tello will work in your area, simply go to its website, enter your address, city, zip code, and state, and Tello will let you know how strong its network performs where you live. When doing this check, you can also filter it by 3G & Voice and 4G LTE.
If you know that Sprint works well in your area, Tello will work great too. If there's no Sprint coverage where you live, you'll want to look elsewhere. It's as simple as that.
If there's one big issue I found while using Tello, it's the way data is handled.
Similar to a lot of MVNOs, Tello advertises that it has a fast and capable 4G LTE network for data. This is true, but I only got real LTE speeds during select times of the day.
For example, while the top download speed I saw was 71.8Mbps at 8:23 AM one morning, it also dipped to as low as 2.59Mbps on another day at 8:52 PM.
My mean download speed ended up being just under 16Mbps after running 18 different tests across multile days during various times. That's certainly not slow, but coming off of my review of US Mobile where the mean download speed was 68Mbps, there's certainly still room for improvement.
In day-to-day use, visiting websites, hopping on Twitter, and endlessly scrolling through Reddit all worked well. The times in which the slower data speeds were the most annoying was when trying to move a lot of data at once, such as downloading or updating an app.
As we see with most MVNOs, Tello Mobile allows you to bring your own phone. Since Tello uses Sprint's network, you need to make sure it's a CDMA device and is unlocked.
Alternatively, you can buy a device direct through Tello.
I'd love to see a larger helping of more current devices later on down the road, but it's a great start nonetheless.
Tello Should you join?
There are a lot of MVNOs competing for your dollars these days. Just off the top of my head right now, some that come to mind include Cricket, Metro, Mint Mobile, Ting, etc., etc.
Is Tello worth joining over everything else that's out there? Like with a lot of things in life, that ultimately comes down to your personal needs.
Tello delivers great pricing, highly customizable plans, and if you refer friends/family to join, you can each save $10 on your monthly bill. That's all great stuff and definitely makes Tello worth a look (so long as you live in a location with reliable Sprint coverage).
Data speeds aren't the best I've ever encountered, but they're still plenty usable and should only be an issue for the most hardcore of users. Everything else about Tello works really, really well, and if you decide to give it a shot, I think you'll be quite happy.
A solid wireless service with great pricing.
If you're in an area with great Sprint coverage, Tello is certainly worth a look. The plans are incredibly affordable, you won't have to mess with contracts of any kind, tethering is free, and there's a pretty great referral program to boot.
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