Signing up for a new phone carrier is usually met with a lot of headaches. It often entails being put on hold countless times, trying to figure out which of the multiple "unlimited" plans is right for you, and then discovering a heap of taxes and fees tacked onto your final monthly cost.
When Visible debuted back in May 2018, it offered an enticing proposition — $40/month for unlimited everything on Verizon's network with the onboarding process taking place entirely through the Visible app.
Visible's had some time to grow and mature since it launched, and while there are still some things I'd like to see changed, it's quickly become one of the most enticing pre-paid service options for folks that rely on Verizon's expansive coverage.
A clear winner
Bottom line: There are plenty of pre-paid networks out there, but Verizon's unmatched service powers very few of them. If that's what you're after, Visible makes an offer that's tough to beat — unlimited talk, text, and data for $40/month. So long as you have one of the supported Android phones, it's an incredible offer.
- Access to Verizon's excellent network
- Free hotspot usage
- Taxes + fees included
- No annual contract
- You can do everything in the Visible app
- Unthrottled LTE speeds are only available for a limited time
- Data performance varies a lot
- Only select Android phones work with the service
For simplicity's sake, Visible has just one plan to choose. It costs $40/month and gives you unlimited talk, text, and data. Data speeds were previously limited to a max of 5Mbps, but right now, they're uncapped (more on that later).
In addition to your main service, Visible's plan also includes free Wi-Fi calling and mobile hotspot access. Hotspot speeds are capped at 5Mbps, and you can only be tethered to one device at a time, but seeing as how a lot of carriers charge extra for this, the fact that Visible includes it in the first place is nice to see.
While the addition of free hotspot usage is a great perk, I do lament the fact that Visible currently doesn't offer anything in the way of international roaming. That may not be an issue for some, but if you do a lot of worldly traveling, the lack of roaming options will likely be a big turnoff.
There aren't any contracts to worry about, the $40/month price includes taxes and fees, and you can sign up for Visible entirely through the company's website or app.
Every carrier should be as easy to sign up for as Visible is.
That last point is something Visible stresses a lot and why it calls itself a "digital carrier." Rather than building physical stores or selling its SIM cards at your local Best Buy, it handles everything digitally. Signing up for phone service on a carrier's website isn't anything new. Still, I will give Visible credit for the ability to do all this through its app (which is wonderfully designed) and the emphasis of making the onboarding process as simple as possible.
The Galaxy S9 I received to test out the service was already set up and ready to go, but I created another Visible account to experience the process first-hand. The app guides you through entering your name, email, password, etc. with ease. You can sign up for just the service or buy a compatible phone and service at the same time.
This is often one of the most headache-inducing parts of dealing with carriers, so I really appreciate how pleasant Visible makes things in these regards.
If you look at companies like Mint Mobile, Cricket Wireless, Metro, and others, you'll notice that they all of one thing in common — they're powered by either AT&T or T-Mobile.
Visible stands out for the fact that it uses Verizon for its network, and say what you will about Verizon as a company, there's no denying that it has some of the best coverage in the United States compared to its competitors. As someone that grew up in an incredibly rural town, I can vouch for Verizon's reliability in less-populated areas where other carriers often struggled to maintain a strong connection.
On the Samsung Galaxy S9, I consistently got three out of four bars in my apartment building in southwest Michigan. Calls and texts both worked perfectly, whether I was sending or receiving them.
There's not much else to say here, and honestly, that's the best thing I could say. I never found myself hunting for a better connection or standing near my window for increased speeds. Visible works like you'd expect, keeping you connected without having to baby it in any way.
When Visible first launched, one of the drawbacks to the carrier was that its data speeds were capped at 5Mbps. That's fast enough for the average user, but it's also far from true LTE speeds.
Since then, however, things have changed. As of June 26, 2019, Visible has removed its speed cap "for a limited time" and is giving new and existing customers alike unthrottled access to Verizon's LTE network. Before I dive into the details of that promotion, let's first take a look at how unthrottled LTE on Visible performs.
In my experience, I had somewhat mixed results. My peak download speed hit 21.3Mbps close to 7 PM on a weekday evening, with my lowest result clocking in at a meager 1.19Mbps just a few minutes later that same night. After running 18 tests, my mean download speed was about 13.5Mbs.
That's not bad at all and considerably faster than the previously capped 5Mbps limit, but I was hoping to see more. Surprisingly, upload speeds were quite good — often hitting close to 20Mbps, with my peak being 35.4Mbps.
Now, let's dive into the deal with this "limited time offer" on uncapped data performance.
Here's the official wording from Visible itself:
We're removing the 5 Mbps data speed cap for our current and new members at no added cost. Why a limited time? We want to test and learn the difference in speed experience together. But more importantly, this is part of additional features we're working on and launching for you in the coming months.
What's important to note here is that anyone who's already a Visible customer or signs up during this promotion will retain access to uncapped LTE data so long as they remain a Visible customer — even when Visible eventually goes back to its 5Mbps cap for new members.
$40/month for uncapped data is an incredible value.
That means there's never been a better time to sign up for Visible, and if you get it now while the promotion is going on, you can ensure you get the best experience possible for your $40 every month.
While that's a fantastic offer, it does leave me a little anxious about what the future holds for Visible. If uncapped speeds come back permanently, will Visible increase the cost of its current plan? Will it keep the $40/month option maxed at 5Mbps in addition to a more expensive one with no speed limit? This offer has remained in place for over a year at this point, so while it doesn't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon, it's bound to change one way or another down the road.
If you're an Android user, this is easily the weakest aspect about Visible.
Visible sells and works with every iPhone from the 11 series all the way down to the 6 and first-gen SE. That's great news for Apple fans, but for us Android users, things aren't nearly as carefree.
At the time of publishing this review, Visible only works with the following Android phones:
- Samsung Galaxy S20/S20+/S20 Ultra
- Samsung Galaxy S10e
- Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+
- Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+
- Samsung Galaxy A51
- Samsung Galaxy A50
- Google Pixel 4/4 XL
- Google Pixel 3/3 XL
- Google Pixel 3a/3a XL
- OnePlus 7T
- OnePlus 7 Pro
- Motorola Moto G7 Power
- Motorola Moto Z4
- LG G8
- LG V40
- LG Stylo 5
Things are bound to get better as time goes on, but if you don't own any of the above phones, you either need to buy one or skip over Visible and look for something else. Not only is that a pain in the butt for people that are interested in joining, but it also means Visible's likely losing out on a lot of potential customers that would otherwise sign up.
Visible is easily one of the best deals in wireless, but that said, it's far from the only company striving to give you reliable coverage and great features at a low monthly rate. One alternative to Visible that you may want to consider is US Mobile. US Mobile also has a $40/month unlimited plan that gives you unlimited everything with data speeds capped at around 5Mbps. If you step up to $50/month, your speeds are increased all the way to 200+ Mbps, and hotspot access is included. US Mobile also allows you to choose either Verizon or T-Mobile as your carrier of choice, and it supports a lot more phones than Visible currently does.
Another interesting option is Mint Mobile. Mint relies on T-Mobile for its service, and instead of selling you a plan with a monthly rate, Mint plans come in bulk — either 3, 6, or 12 months of service upfront. That means you pay a higher price right out of the gate, but if you look at the effective month-to-month cost, you're saving a lot of money. For example, $300 gets you unlimited talk, text, and 12GB of data per month for an entire year. On a month-to-month basis, that's only $25/month.
Last but not least, we also recommend checking out Tello. Tello's unlimited everything plan slightly undercuts Visible's at $39/month, giving you access to unlimited talk, text, and data on the Sprint network. If you don't need all of that service, you can also build a custom plan for yourself. After choosing how many minutes and data you want for the month (unlimited texting is included for free), Tello gives you your monthly rate. For example, you could get 2GB of data and unlimited minutes for $14/month or 6GB of data and 300 minutes for $22/month.
Should you join?
Who it's for
- If you want unlimited everything for a reasonable price
- If you rely on Verizon's network
- If you need mobile hotspot access
- If you want an all-in price with no extra taxes or fees
Who it isn't for
- If you have a phone that isn't compatible with Visible
- If you want a customizable plan
Ultimately, your decision to join Visible comes down to one simple question — Do you need access to Verizon's network at an affordable price? Visible's straightforward $40/month cost for unlimited everything is extremely appealing, especially right now with the removed speed cap on data.
Visible wins in just about every category (though competitors like Mint Mobile start with cheaper options), but the biggest drawback is that lacking support for Android devices. It's bound to be a roadblock for a lot of people, and that's a shame. Outside of that, the rest of the Visible experience is pretty flawless.
In my eyes, at least, Visible is the best deal in the carrier space right now if you want Verizon's network without paying Verizon's prices. It's just a shame that the service is limited to nothing more than a handful of Android phones at the moment.
A clear winner
Unlimited access to Verizon's network at a great price.
There are plenty of pre-paid networks out there, but Verizon's unmatched service powers very few of them. If that's what you're after, Visible makes an offer that's tough to beat — unlimited talk, text, and data for $40/month. So long as you have one of the supported Android phones, it's an incredible offer.
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