Prepaid phone carriers come in all types, whether you want to customize your plan or find something for your whole family. Prepaid carriers now offer plans with the same data as the big three while saving you money. If you have great Verizon coverage, Visible should be one of the first carriers you check out.
Visible is a prepaid phone carrier from Verizon that has left analog connectivity in the past and offers just one plan. Visible originally had hard speed limits, but it now offers the full speed of the Verizon network as long as the tower isn't congested. Visible has also added some new features to lower the cost of the service and make it easier to sign up and use.
Visible uses Verizon's LTE and nationwide 5G network for coverage with no 3G or roaming options. Considering the size of Verizon's network, this shouldn't be a problem for most people. However, Visible is a compelling option for a heavy data user to save a lot on phone service.
Bottom line: Visible delivers on its promise of unlimited data with great coverage on Verizon's LTE and 5G network. Unlimited talk and text are also included in the price, starting at $40 per month with room to save up to $15 per month when you sign up with a four-person party.
- Unlimited LTE and 5G data
- Unlimited hotspot at 5Mbps
- Simple plan with included fees and no contract
- Visible Party Pay brings the cost down to $25 per month
- Inconsistent data performance throughout the day
- High ping times
- Limited phone support with a slow 5G rollout
Visible Will your phone work?
Visible is an all-digital carrier which means that everything you do on your Visible connection happens over data. This includes calling, which requires that all Visible phones support VoIP, or voice over internet protocol. While most phones support this feature, Visible has to confirm that each model will work with its service before signing off and adding it to the supported list of phones. If you want to bring your unlocked phone to Visible, you need to make sure it's supported.
Luckily, you can check your phone's IMEI before you create your account. If your phone isn't supported, you'll be directed to Visible's online store, where you have the option of buying a new one. You can also buy one of the best phones for Visible and bring it with you. If your phone is supported, you just need to wait for your SIM in the mail or set up your eSIM.
I tested Visible using an unlocked Samsung Galaxy S20+ and had no issues connecting and using service once I got my SIM activated. Calls and texts were running without any input from me, and all settings were handled automatically.
Forget about data caps
Visible What works well
Visible's plan hits the nail on the head. I know for a fact that I don't need unlimited data, calling, or texting, but I love to have it. When I've just spent hundreds on a new phone, I want to use it until the battery is flat and forget all about data. Visible's plan facilitates this selfish endeavor by offering unlimited talk, text, calling, and hotspot usage for $40 per month before Party Pay. It even includes calling to Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon offer a similar unlimited plan, but each is more expensive and has fewer features. T-Mobile comes close with its Essentials plan, but that has a slower hotspot and comes in at $20 more per month plus taxes and fees.
That's before Visible Party Pay as well. Party Pay allows you to join a party of other Visible users to bring your monthly cost down as low as $25 per month with at least four people in your party. If you find a party online to join, you can bring your payments down right away.
Visible's mobile hotspot is one of a kind in that it has no data cap but comes with a 5Mbps speed limit. While you won't be streaming 1080p on your connected Wi-Fi device, standard definition video should work without a hitch, and standard browsing and social media should load reasonably quickly. If you're regretting opting for the Wi-Fi version of a tablet, Visible can make sure you stay connected on the go. No searching for public Wi-Fi is necessary.
This hotspot can also work with smartwatches, though Visible also has a standalone Apple Watch plan for just $5 per month. An Apple Watch Series 4 or newer is required.
Visible relies on Verizon's network for service, and for most people in the country, that's good news. Verizon has some of the best coverage around, and most people should have excellent coverage and plenty of speed. I rarely had anything but great signal quality on my phone, even when I drove between cities in my area.
Speed tests showed over 30Mbps download most of the time with peaks over 100Mbps. Best of all, upload speeds were regularly above 10Mbps, often reaching closer to 30Mbps. So if you're sending pictures or videos to a friend, you shouldn't have to wait long, even in HD. Video streaming generally worked well for me as long as I dropped the quality to 720p for 60fps videos. Higher quality 1080p and 1440p videos would buffer often, but on a phone screen, it's far from a hardship.
5G connectivity is included for Verizon's nationwide 5G network as long as you have a compatible device. 5G on Visible is available with the iPhone 12 series, Galaxy S20 and S21 series, Galaxy A42 5G, Pixel 4a 5G, Pixel 5, ZTE Blade X1 5G, and Motorola one 5G UW. While this covers the most popular 5G phones you can get, there are still some major omissions. Your mileage may vary when you bring your own device but don't be surprised if you're stuck on LTE if your phone isn't on the official list.
Visible What falls short
While most of my speed tests showed great results, there were times when my speeds would plummet to under 2Mbps. Upload speeds stayed high, which is nice, but it was very noticeable when a web page or video would fail to load or load unusually slowly. Usually, it would correct itself within a few minutes, but I definitely felt that my connection was a lower priority. Still, that's to be expected, and Visible clearly states your speed may be temporarily slower than other traffic.
What I didn't expect was the frankly massive ping times. Ping is the latency of your connection, measured in milliseconds, and represents the delay between your phone requesting a connection and receiving it. Some people are more sensitive to this than others, but it has a big impact on how snappy your connection feels. Home fiber connections, for example, usually average under 5ms, while cable and DSL connections can be closer to 40ms depending on several elements.
I never saw less than 100ms on Visible and frequently saw over 150ms. My AT&T and Mint Mobile SIMs are regularly under 50ms for comparison. I thought perhaps 5G might improve things a bit, but after finding a good place to connect to Verizon's nationwide 5G network, I found the results to be very similar to LTE. It's still a very usable connection but definitely worth considering if you want to play multiplayer games online or are used to lower latency browsing.
One last thing to consider is phone support. You can see the list of compatible phones on Visible's help page, and while it includes most of the heavy hitters, you still need to check it before buying an unlocked phone. This is one extra step that many prepaid customers aren't used to taking when signing up for service.
Visible The competition
Mint Mobile stands out as one of Visible's biggest competitors with an array of plans starting at just $15 per month for 4GB of data when you buy 12 months. It must be said that the upfront cost of Mint Mobile is a lot higher, with the greatest value coming from buying an entire year of service. If you are switching carriers looking for more freedom, Mint Mobile will feel a bit more restrictive in this sense. Mint Mobile also doesn't offer a truly unlimited plan with its unlimited option throttling at 35GB of usage and only coming with 5GB of hotspot data.
Metro by T-Mobile is another prepaid option with unlimited plans that will work for most people while including family plan savings. Save per line with each additional line up to five while still getting access to plenty of LTE and 5G data on the T-Mobile network. Hotspot data is available in 5GB and 15GB depending on which unlimited plan you choose at $50 and $60 per month for a single line.
If you want to stick with Verizon's network, US Mobile is a solid alternative with custom plans and unlimited family plans available. For a single line, you'll pay more than Visible, but with a family plan, the cost comes down quite a bit. Speeds on US Mobile are uncapped up to 75GB of usage, and 20GB of hotspot data can be added for $10 per month. If you have three or more lines, you also get a free streaming service included with your plan.
Visible Should you sign up?
You should buy this if ...
You need to use a lot of data
If you've got Twitch or YouTube running for hours a day, data usage can stack up. With Visible, you can forget about how much you use and leave it running. You can also let all of your apps update automatically. You can even watch videos in full resolution if you set them to download in the background. Whether you spend a lot of time away from Wi-Fi or simply don't want to waste your home internet data on background video streams, Visible eliminated data usage worries.
You don't want contracts or extra fees
Visible's plan starts at $40 per month, including fees and taxes. There is no contract or commitment necessary. If you just want to stay for a month and stream to your heart's content, you can. While many other carriers lure you in with a low price before tacking on a bunch of small fees, Visible keeps it simple and includes these fees with the plan's cost.
You have a compatible phone or are ready for a new one
One of the biggest hurdles to sign up for Visible is making sure you have a compatible phone. While iPhone users are lucky with just about every iPhone working, Android support is much more limited. Still, some of the best Android phones you can get, like the Galaxy S20 series, are compatible as well as Google's Pixel 3 and newer. If you've got a compatible device, the only thing you need is a SIM card, and you can try out Visible with no contract locking you in.
You should not buy this if ...
You need a premium data experience
There's no way around the fact that on Visible, your data is a lesser priority than a postpaid Verizon phone. For the most part, the difference is minimal, and the data experience will keep up with any normal usage, but there are times that you won't be able to stream in HD and will have to wait longer for downloads. If you need your data connection at peak performance at all times, Visible may not be the right answer for you. Then again, if your area has plenty of Verizon capacity to go around, you may not notice any slowdown at all.
You need roaming of any kind
Roaming is not supported by Visible, and neither is 3G. If you stay in a place with Verizon LTE service or newer at all times, this will not be an issue, but if you live in the country or frequently drive through it, Visible might not hold up. Just be sure to check coverage in all the places you plan to go before signing up with any phone service.
Overall, Visible makes sense for people that want to forget about data caps and don't mind getting throttled when things get crowded. The simple pricing makes it a great fit for someone that needs to get connected on a budget with only one line. Remember that you need to use a supported phone, and trips through the countryside may see some dropped connections.
Visible makes a lot of sense to many people, and it's clear by how many copycats have sprung up that people like the concept. Most of the weaknesses with Visible's service will be resolved in time as more phones come with full support for Visible's digital network and 5G eases the burden on the data network. But, when it comes down to it, Visible allows you to make the most of your new phone by allowing your data usage to become an afterthought.
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