Tello Mobile is known for having some of the best wireless prices around with a ton of flexibility but probably isn't the first carrier that comes to mind when shopping for unlimited data. 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.
Tello Mobile Review Plans
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 per month for 500 MB of data and no minutes (or 100 minutes and no data), the most expensive plan caps out at just $39 per 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-tuning 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, China, and Romania, and if you want to make international calls to other countries, you'll pay a certain amount by the minute. The price does vary depending on where you're calling to, and for the most part, it's quite affordable.
- India — 1.7¢/minute
- United Kingdom — 0.7¢/minute
- France — 1¢/minute
- Japan — 2.2¢/minute
- Cuba — 65¢/minute
- Puerto Rico — 0.7¢/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, your 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.
Tello Mobile Review Coverage
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 Voice and Data.
Make sure to check your coverage even if you've had Sprint service before. Sprint and some of Sprint's prepaid carriers fill in coverage gaps with roaming agreements that Tello will not be able to access. Still, if you're covered, you should have solid service with decent LTE speeds.
Tello Mobile Review Data speed
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 multiple 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.
Tello Mobile Review Phone selection
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. Most of the best Android phones under $300 will work great with the network.
Alternatively, you can buy a device directly through Tello.
The selection isn't the best you'll find, but it's also not the worst. Some of the highlights include the Samsung Galaxy A10e for $169, and the Samsung Galaxy S9 for $399. These phones are refurbished or pre-owned so give them a once over before your 30-day return period but they are checked and guaranteed to work.
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 Mobile Review 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.
You should join if ...
You're looking for a basic phone plan
One of Tello's strengths is just how low you can go. $5 per month for just 100 minutes or 500MB of data is about as basic as you can get. Not everyone needs unlimited data and a ton of extra features on every phone line. If you need just the most basic of service on one of your lines, Tello is a great fit.
You have good Sprint coverage where you live
Sprint's network isn't the best by any stretch but for a lot of people, it's fine. If you're one of these people, Tello is a solid option. Just don't expect an off-network service.
You should not join if ...
You need a ton of data
Tello has an unlimited plan but data is slowed after 25GB of usage. 25GB is a lot, especially on a phone but if you need every bit of that and more, there are other carriers that will be a better fit. For example, Boost Mobile gives customers 35GB on its largest plan that also uses the Sprint network.
You need the best coverage
Tello's coverage is limited mostly to densely populated areas and can have a lot of dead zones in between. If you rely on your phone's connection and need to make long drives, Tello probably isn't the best fit for you. If you're used to Sprint's service, you should still check your coverage since Sprint has roaming deals with T-Mobile to fill in its network map a bit more.
You're looking for 5G
Tello uses the Sprint network and that means no 5G. Sprint started building a 5G network but it has since been taken down. The best you'll get is LTE. This is fast enough for most people but it's worth keeping in mind that Tello's coverage won't be getting a next-gen upgrade.
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 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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