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Ultra Mobile review: Plenty of prepaid data and free international calling

Start with one month or save by joining for up to a year at a time.

Ultra Mobile on an S20+
(Image: © Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

Our Verdict

Ultra Mobile uses the powerful T-Mobile network to deliver great coverage and improved speeds. Ultra also offers plenty of data for even the heaviest users with its unlimited plan, as well as discounts for multi-month renewals for those that can plan ahead.

For

  • T-Mobile network with 5G support
  • Great international features included every month
  • Save when you pay for multiple months
  • Great phone support

Against

  • Pricing can be confusing
  • Video streaming quality is low
  • Only select plans are available online

Ultra Mobile is a prepaid carrier on the T-Mobile network that aims to give customers what they want most from a phone plan: plenty of data. Ultra Mobile also focuses on customers that need international calling, with free calls to over 80 countries. If you're staying local, you can choose the right amount of data for you, including up to 60GB of high-speed data with the largest unlimited plan.

In the U.S., Ultra Mobile uses T-Mobile's network for service. This means that most people should have great coverage, and most phones should work on this network without issue. Ultra Mobile also fully supports 5G for free as long as you have a phone that supports it. If you're looking for great data coverage and a plan that lets you make the most of it, Ultra Mobile is a great prepaid choice.

Ultra Mobile review: Price and availability

Ultra Mobile SIM next to an S20+

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras)

Ultra Mobile is available online and in partner stores across the country. If you're shopping online, you can choose from the 250MB, 2GB, and 40GB unlimited options to get started. To access all of Ultra Mobile's plans, you'll need to sign up in a store. Plans can be changed later in account management if you want to switch to a different plan or sign up for multi-month savings.

The main way to save with Ultra Mobile is to purchase multiple months of service. Like Mint Mobile, your monthly rate will go down, but your will need to pay for the entire term upfront. You can change your renewal period online or from the Ultra Mobile app, so if you're not sure if you'll like the service, you can start with one month and renew for longer.

Ultra Mobile's plans
1 month3 months6 months12 months
250MB$15$13$11$10
2GB$19$16$15$14
3GB$24$22$21$20
6GB$29$28$27$25
15GB$39$36$35$30
Unlimited (40GB)$49$46$45$40
Unlimited+ (60GB)$59$56$55$50

All Ultra Mobile plans include unlimited talk to more than 80 supported countries. You can add funds to any plan to call, text, or roam internationally, and the large plans come with some funds included already. The unlimited plan, for example, comes with a $5 international credit each month. Unlimited+ bumps that up to $10.

Ultra Mobile review: What's good

Speed test on mid-band 5G with Ultra Mobile

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

I tested an unlimited SIM in an unlocked Samsung Galaxy S20+ with 5G. This plan comes with 40GB of high-speed data and 10GB of hotspot data. This plan also comes with $5 per month for international calling and texting. You get unlimited calls and texts in the U.S., as well as global texting and free calls to more than 80 countries.

Ultra Mobile uses T-Mobile for its network, and that's a good thing. T-Mobile has been making great strides in building its 5G network and adding coverage and capacity for LTE devices. In the U.S., T-Mobile now has the best 5G coverage, and it's not slowing down with its deployment on mid-band 2.5GHz spectrum now reaching the majority of subscribers. T-Mobile calls this spectrum Ultra Capacity, and it will hold up better under load, so you'll want a phone that supports band n41 to take full advantage.

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras)

I can get a solid n41 signal in my area, and speeds were great at over 300Mbps, with peaks over 500Mbps. Even better than the download speeds were the uploads, which were around 50Mbps fairly consistently. Even the slower band n71 5G network had solid upload speeds as I got further out of town. Fast upload speeds are great for smartphones since they can help you send videos and photos quickly, and it can also help with the quality of video calling.

Another benefit to using T-Mobile's network is phone compatibility. T-Mobile's GSM network will work with just about any unlocked phone. While it's best to use this network with a 5G phone, any of the best Android phones that work in the U.S. should work on T-Mobile. You could also use an older LTE-only phone, but for full coverage, it needs access to band 71.

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras)

Data speeds are completely dependent on your area and coverage, but here in northern Florida, LTE is fast and often exceeds 50Mbps. 5G speeds have been as low as 30Mbps with poor coverage, reaching up to 559Mbps at the fastest. If you don't know how good T-Mobile is in your area, you should start with a single month before committing. Most people will have more than enough speed to make the most of their phones.

The feature that makes Ultra Mobile stand out from the rest is its international calling. On all of its plans, you get free calling to more than 80 different countries. Beyond that, $5 is added to your account monthly to pay for other international calls or texts that cost per minute. You can add money to this in $5, $10, and $20 increments. You can also add money to use for international roaming. If you want to travel abroad, you can take your Ultra Mobile number with you without needing to find a new SIM card. This can be great for quick trips or as a backup for another data SIM.

If you're willing to pay for it upfront, Ultra Mobile has some seriously solid discounts.

Ultra Mobile gives you several options for renewal, starting with just a single month for full price. You can save money by buying up to 12 months at once. Ultra Mobile offers substantial discounts if you're willing to pay for it upfront. The price is just $40 per month for the unlimited plan when you renew the entire year. This is a lot like Mint Mobile's unlimited plan, which is one of our best cell phone plans and is also owned by Ultra Mobile.

Ultra Mobile review: What's not good

Ultra Mobile SIM and app

Source: Samuel Contreras / Android Central (Image credit: Samuel Contreras)

One of the biggest problems I have with Ultra Mobile is the pricing. It's not the most complicated pricing out there, but with a grid of prices representing all plan sizes and lengths, it can be overwhelming to look at. For most people, it makes sense to start with a larger plan and downgrade as you come to understand your usage.

While T-Mobile has been working tirelessly to expand its mid-band coverage, it still doesn't have the coverage of lower band LTE and 5G. In my apartment, my 5G coverage frequently dropped back to LTE as I moved through my home. This issue has been largely corrected as T-Mobile has densified its coverage. I'm also connected to one of the best Wi-Fi 6 routers when I'm at home anyways.

Finally, Ultra Mobile doesn't offer all of its plans online, which is quite annoying if you're trying to find the perfect plan. While Ultra Mobile has a lot of retail partners, the closest store to me is about an hour away, and I'm not even in a rural area. It would be nice if Ultra Mobile could just take everything online, as Mint Mobile has done.

Ultra Mobile Fast speed test for video quality

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras)

It is very common for unlimited plans to limit data speeds in certain applications like video streaming. Still, I wish it were more at a painful 480p (1.5Mbps) max on the unlimited plan. This low limit means that you cannot watch any YouTube content at 60FPS unless you download it first or connect to Wi-Fi. This can be a real shame if you're trying to watch gameplay content that is best enjoyed at a full frame rate.

If a carrier were to limit anything, video streaming makes the most sense, but when the unlimited plan still has a limit of 40GB, it feels less genuine. I would have liked to be able to toggle the video limit off and use my 40GB however I please.

Ultra Mobile review: Competition

Mint Mobile review

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

Mint Mobile is partly owned by Ultra Mobile and has a lot in common, from multi-month savings to using the T-Mobile network. All Mint Mobile plans must be bought in bulk, with the shortest term available being three months. Still, if you don't need Ultra's international features, Mint Mobile is a great backup with lower prices across the board. Mint Mobile's unlimited plan is $30 per month when you buy 12 months, compared to $40 per month at Ultra Mobile.

Visible is a Verizon-based prepaid carrier with only one unlimited plan. The catch is that there aren't as many compatible phones as Mint or Ultra Mobile, and you have no access to 3G or roaming. Still, the unlimited plan will be worth it for most people, especially since it starts at $30 per month. Visible also includes unlimited hotspot data at 5Mbps.

Ultra Mobile review: Should you buy it?

Ultra Mobile SIM and phone showing YouTube app

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras)

You should buy this if ...

  • You have great T-Mobile coverage
  • You use international calling
  • You need hotspot data
  • You're willing to buy up to a year of service at once

You shouldn't buy this if...

  • Your T-Mobile coverage is spotty
  • You want crisp HD video streams
  • You want multiple months but can only afford one at a time

If you have great T-Mobile coverage and a phone that supports the full network, Ultra Mobile is an affordable way to access it. Not only that, but you get international calling and can save if you buy up to a year upfront. Still, T-Mobile coverage isn't the best everywhere, and you may find that even your 5G experience can be underwhelming if coverage isn't great. Ultra Mobile can also be more expensive than some others if you don't sign up for the whole year.

Ultra isn't perfect and is far from the cheapest carrier out there. Still, with a huge amount of data at 40GB and 10GB of hotspot data, it's a great choice if you need international features. 5G connectivity is still a bit spotty, but it shows off how good it can truly be in the next few years when it works right. It would also be nice to see video streaming limits lifted or made optional for people with large phones.

Overall, Ultra Mobile is a great choice if you need to call or travel abroad and want to have plenty of data and coverage at home. You can save a little money with another carrier while getting similar coverage and data amounts, but with the majority of those, you'll be giving up all international features. For many people, Ultra Mobile is the perfect way to stay connected even when they're thousands of miles from where they were born.

Review changelog

Review Changelog, September 2022

This review was originally published in May 2021. It was updated in September 2022 with the following changes:

  • New plan and pricing information.
  • Updates for current 5G coverage.
  • Added information about which plans are available online.
  • Updated references Visible plan price.
  • Images have been resized to accommodate Android Central's new site design.

When Samuel is not writing about networking or 5G at Android Central, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.