AT&T Review 2022: Should You Switch?
In this AT&T review, I’ll cover everything you need to know about AT&T.
- What the plans are
- Available plan discounts
- How they compare to T-Mobile and Verizon
- Coverage and data speeds
- How to manage your account with the website and AT&T app, including switching plans or purchasing add-ons
- AT&T plan add-ons
- Answer the question: is AT&T worth signing up for?
Let’s get into it.
AT&T Plan Comparison
AT&T offers three postpaid plans to choose from:
Technically there is a fourth plan, the AT&T 4GB plan, but this plan is so bad I don’t recommend it at all.
There is no reason to get the 4GB AT&T plan, so let’s instead focus on AT&T’s unlimited plans.
AT&T Unlimited Starter
The baseline plan is Unlimited Starter.
It’s $65 per month for unlimited data, but unfortunately the data is always deprioritized.
This means that anytime the network is busy, such as at a crowded stadium, sports game, concert, airport, or even in a city during rush hour, your speeds will be slower than customers who choose to get the Unlimited Extra or Elite plans.
I don’t feel this is a big deal on the AT&T network. You’re not likely to notice the deprioritized speeds.
There is also no hotspot support with this plan, and video streaming is limited to 480p.
You do get unlimited high-speed data roaming in Canada and Mexico though, as well as unlimited texting from the U.S. to 120+ countries.
AT&T Unlimited Extra
The mid-tier plan is AT&T Unlimited Extra for $75 per month.
It includes 50GB of priority data before your speeds may be slowed during times of network congestion.
You also now get 15GB of high-speed hotspot data before unlimited hotspot data at 128Kbps.
The rest of the plan features are the same: 480p, unlimited high-speed data in Canada and Mexico, and international texting from the U.S. to 120+ countries.
AT&T Unlimited Elite
AT&T’s top-tier plan is their Unlimited Elite plan. This bumps the price up to $85 per month, and adds in some nice extra features.
You now get unlimited priority data, and hotspot data is over doubled to 40GB.
4K video streaming is also now enabled by default.
AT&T also adds in the extra perk of a free HBO Max subscription, which is a $15 value.
The rest of the plan features are the same.
There are also three extra perks included with all AT&T plans: AT&T ActiveArmor, which was previously called “Mobile Security,” international day passes, and Stadia Pro.
Unlimited Starter gets AT&T ActiveArmor security, which includes spam and fraud call blocking.
Unlimited Extra and Elite get bumped up to AT&T ActiveArmor Advanced Security. This adds in caller ID, identity monitoring, and Wi-Fi protection.
All plans are also eligible for the $10 per day international day pass that AT&T offers. What is nice is that the International Day Passes will now be free after you pay for your first 10 days.
However, I would still recommend looking into low-cost international eSIM data plans instead. US Mobile and Airalo offer affordable international data plans that work in a huge selection of countries.
All AT&T plans also get 6 months of Stadia Pro for free and access to AT&T’s 5G network.
AT&T Plan Discounts
Now let’s talk pricing and discounts.
AT&T offers a Signature Program where eligible members can save big on their AT&T service.
Business employees, AARP members, union members, and students all can save $10 per month per line off of the cost of the Elite plan. This makes it the same price as Unlimited Extra.
Military veterans, first responders, teachers, and nurses and physicians can also all save 25% off the cost of any AT&T plan.
This brings the cost of Starter, Extra, and Elite down to just $49, $57, and $64 respectively for single-line users.
AT&T of course also offers a multi-line discount on their plans as well.
For a family of four, the regular pricing per line is $35 for Starter, $40 for Extra, and $50 for Elite.
And with the 25% off signature program discount, those family prices drop to just $27, $30, and $38 per line respectively.
What AT&T Plan Should You Choose?
Overall, AT&T Unlimited Starter is best for people looking for a basic unlimited data plan that’s low cost.
Unlimited Extra is best for anyone who needs hotspot data.
Unlimited Elite is really only for people who need more than 15GB of hotspot data, or who want to get HBO Max included with their service.
Keep in mind you can also mix and match plans based on what each person needs.
I encourage you to consider putting most of your lines on Unlimited Starter and Extra.
Those plans are perfect for the needs of 94% of average consumers, and they will help you reduce your cell phone bill.
And if you really want, you can put one line on Elite to get HBO Max and some of the extra perks.
How AT&T’s Plans Compare to T-Mobile and Verizon
Let’s find out.
All carriers offer three tiers of plans to choose from: entry-level unlimited plans, mid-tier plans, and premium plans.
Entry-Level Unlimited Plan Comparison
The entry-level plans are surprisingly similar between the carriers. Four key differences here:
- T-Mobile includes hotspot data. The other plans do not.
- AT&T offers the best data roaming in Canada and Mexico
- Verizon includes the best perks
- And T-Mobile wins with the best price. It’s $60 for individuals and $30/line for a family of four.
Overall I think T-Mobile’s plan is best here because of the included hotspot data and lower price, and AT&T’s plan is just a little bit better than Verizon’s because of the Canada and Mexico data roaming.
But the truth is I don’t think any of the entry-level plans are worth it.
You’ll notice that all plans are deprioritized.
This means they will have the same data speeds and performance as many of the prepaid plans available on their networks.
So why not go with a great, lower-cost prepaid plan instead?
It’s the same $60/month for single-line users, but it adds in extra features like hotspot data and cloud storage, and it includes all taxes and fees.
Plus the price drops to just $33/line with four lines, which is a great value.
Mid-Tier Unlimited Plan Comparison
Next we have the mid-tier plans. There are 8 differences here.
- T-Mobile includes the most priority data with 100GB. AT&T and Verizon tie at 50GB
- AT&T and Verizon also tie with the most hotspot data at 15GB.
- Verizon offers the highest video streaming quality at 720p.
- AT&T continues to have the best data roaming in Canada and Mexico.
- T-Mobile now includes free international data at 128Kbps.
- T-Mobile now includes 1h of Go-Go In-flight Wi-Fi
- Verizon has the best perks
- T-Mobile has the best price. Magenta is not only the cheapest at $70 per month, but it also includes all taxes and fees.
Because of this, T-Mobile also wins with the best family pricing.
AT&T appears to tie with T-Mobile at $40/line, but from my own experience AT&T adds in about $5.77 per line in taxes and fees.
That’s $23.08 extra per month, which means T-Mobile saves you an estimated $277 per year.
With the most priority data, international features, and the lowest price, I again feel T-Mobile is the best value plan here.
And I think AT&T and Verizon tie for second.
Yes, Verizon’s plan is slightly more expensive, but you’re also getting 720p video streaming and added value with the Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ bundle included.
AT&T’s plan doesn’t have those features, but it does offer unlimited high-speed data in Canada and Mexico and a slightly lower price tag.
Premium Unlimited Plan Comparison
Now let’s take a look at the premium plans. There are 9 differences here.
- AT&T ties with T-Mobile by offering the most priority data
- AT&T ties with T-Mobile again by offering the most hotspot data
- And AT&T ties with T-Mobile a third time by offering 4K video streaming
- AT&T continues to win with the best Canada and Mexico data roaming
- T-Mobile wins with the best international data
- T-Mobile also wins with unlimited GoGo in-flight Wi-Fi cand texting
- The perks are different and come down to personal preference
- Verizon wins with the cheapest cost for adding a tablet or wearable to the plan
- T-Mobile continues to win with the best price. It’s $85 per month with all taxes and fees included.
And again, with the family discount, T-Mobile is still the lowest-cost option, saving you $240-$480 per year.
And in my opinion, this continues to make T-Mobile the best value plan here.
5GB of high-speed data in Canada and Mexico is plenty for most people, the international add-ons are a huge perk, and the cheaper price makes Magenta MAX a compelling option.
I would put AT&T in the #2 spot.
It ties with T-Mobile on key features, and it wins with its unlimited high-speed data in Canada and Mexico.
HBO Max is also a great perk.
And that leaves Verizon squarely in last with the least features and the most expensive price.
So overall I think AT&T #2 when it comes to value.
It’s not quite as good of a value as T-Mobile, but it easily ties or beats Verizon when it comes to plan features and price.
But there is one pretty key area where AT&T beats T-Mobile: network coverage and performance.
And for many people, this could easily put AT&T in the #1 spot.
AT&T Coverage and Data Speeds
So now let’s talk about network coverage and performance on AT&T.
In terms of coverage, AT&T again ranks #2.
It has more coverage than T-Mobile, but it doesn’t quite have the same footprint as Verizon.
And funny enough these coverage maps are actually from T-Mobile’s website.
So nice job, T-Mobile, you are literally showing that everyone else has better coverage than you.
Reports from independent research firms also show the same results.
RootMetrics ranks AT&T as #2 in terms of coverage, just behind Verizon and ahead of T-Mobile.
And Tutela agrees. They ranked AT&T #2 as well, with a 4G/5G coverage score of 636 out of 1,000 and a total coverage score of 656 out of 1,000.
The only company that doesn’t have AT&T in second place is OpenSignal.
In terms of 4G availability, OpenSignal ranks Verizon and T-Mobile as tied for first with a 4G connection 97.7% of the time.
AT&T is closely behind with 4G being available 96.3% of the time.
But, what’s interesting is OpenSignal actually bumps AT&T up to the #2 spot when it comes to 4G coverage experience. This measures the mobile coverage experience in locations that matter most to everyday users.
So it sounds to me from OpenSignal’s measurements, even though AT&T’s 4G isn’t as widely available, it does a better job of covering more important locations, such as where you work, live, and visit frequently.
Data Speeds and Performance
But what about data speeds and performance on AT&T?
RootMetrics places AT&T #2 in overall performance, and it ranks them #1 in speed and #1 in data reliability.
This is closely behind Verizon, and well ahead of T-Mobile, which placed last across all categories.
Tutela had somewhat similar findings.
In “Excellent Consistent Quality,” which is when the network connection is good enough for demanding use-cases like group HD video calling, mobile gaming, or high-quality video streaming, AT&T actually placed last, just behind Verizon and T-Mobile who tied for first.
However, for “Core Consistent Quality,” which is where the connection is good enough for everyday use cases, like web browsing, voice calling, or streaming standard definition video, AT&T finished first place. They won 36 of the 48 lower states.
This basically means that when AT&T coverage was available, it was more likely to meet your everyday needs than T-Mobile or Verizon.
Tutela also ranked AT&T as #2 in download speeds, #3 in upload speeds, tied for #1 in latency, and #2 in coverage.
Based on these rankings, I would put AT&T in about the #2 spot overall.
And when we look at OpenSignal, it’s a slightly different story.
They give AT&T the win in the “games experience” category and the “download speed experience” category.
Verizon or T-Mobile won all other categories.
Still, AT&T finished ahead of T-Mobile from all research firms in both the coverage and data speed categories.
And I think RootMetrics summarizes things nicely when they say, “AT&T shows major improvements in the 1st half of 2021, with faster speeds, better reliability, and a huge jump in its awards total.”
Simply put, AT&T has a great network.
Combined with feature-rich plans and reasonable prices, I think many people will be happy with AT&T.
And for a lot of you, this could solidify AT&T as having the #1 plans available, especially if you qualify for their Signature Discount.
AT&T Experience - It’s Terrible
AT&T offers great plans, great coverage, and fast data speeds.
It sounds like AT&T is set up to offer an awesome experience, right?
Well… unfortunately this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Despite having an amazing product, AT&T has a TERRIBLE experience.
From sign-up to activation to account management, the experience just goes from bad to worse.
AT&T Sign Up Process
Let’s start with how you actually sign up for the service.
For me, I thought I would try to sign up online.
AT&T was offering a special only-only deal for $250 in bill credits that I wanted to take advantage of (wouldn’t you?).
And this is where the problems started.
AT&T’s website felt broken and janky.
These are the issues I experienced:
- AT&T would open a new tab each time I went to add a new line. That is a bad website practice. If I accidentally clicked on the wrong tab, I would be brought back two steps in my order process and have to repeat adding a line. No fun.
- The continue button would gray out when I went to click on it. This was annoying because I couldn’t continue with my order. Why did the button gray out, you ask? Because of the next issue…
- The total price would take forever to update. Seriously? When was the last time you tried checking out with a shopping cart that couldn’t even accurately calculate your total price? Not concerning at all.
- The website was also slow. Like really, really slow.
After battling with the AT&T website for 30 minutes, I finally placed my order.
And you know what AT&T did?
THEY FREAKING CANCELLED MY ORDER.
Not a great experience for a potential customer looking to give you $175/month, right?
So to I ended up placing my order over the phone.
The phone rep was super nice.
She recommended I active two lines with her to get my account set up, and then I could place a second order online to take advantage of the $250 online-only promo credit.
And this actually worked really well.
I got 2 AT&T SIM cards over the phone, and then I ordered 2 more online with the $250 credit.
Next step: getting these suckers activated.
AT&T Activation Process: From Bad to Worse
When you get SIM cards in the mail, typically they come with activation instructions, right?
A little booklet to tell you what website to go to, when to insert your SIM card, and how to get your service active.
Cricket includes this, so does Pure Talk, and heck, even AT&T Prepaid includes activation instructions.
I got nothing.
Just the SIM cards and the order slip were included.
I was like, what do I even do to get these activated???
Thankfully I had been browsing around my AT&T account, and I remembered seeing somewhere that it said to call 611 to get my service active.
So I did.
And thankfully, it worked.
And now you’re prepared with what to do if this situation happens to you.
But really, AT&T?
You couldn’t include a little slip of paper saying, “dial 611 to activate your service” or something like that?
Actually, I shouldn’t speak so soon.
That’s because the AT&T SIM cards that I ordered online actually did include activation instructions.
The activation card guided me to att.com/getstarted.
And this page had the activation instructions on it for transferring my two phone numbers and getting my service active.
Except… the instructions were terrible.
The first heading on the page instructions you to “Detach and insert the SIM card.”
Then, in the section immediately below it, it lists Step 3 as “insert your new SIM into your device.”
HOW CAN SOMETHING THAT IS STEP 3 COME AS A HEADING BEFORE THE ENTIRE PROCESS??
Furthermore, when I followed the instructions on the next page, BOTH of my number transfers failed with “unsuccessful activations.”
Thankfully, at no surprise to us at this point, the AT&T website was wrong here AGAIN.
My number transfer actually DID work.
At least, one of them did.
I was able to place phone calls and use cellular data like normal.
And I was able to get the second SIM card activated by simply trying to go through the process again.
So, AT&T, maybe consider re-working your activation flow?
My best guess as to why the number transfers “failed” is because the phones were off and had no connection to the network.
Either way, I can definitely understand why people activate AT&T over the phone or in-store.
It’s much nicer having reps take care of everything for you.
Manage Your AT&T Account
AT&T Account Management on Website
First, create a myAT&T account and then sign in.
On the main account overview page, you’ll see your upcoming bill along with a bunch of promotions.
AT&T really wants you to upgrade your devices or buy a shiny new iPad Pro.
When you scroll down, you’ll see a button to manage your devices.
Click on that, and you’ll be brought to an actually useful page where you can see an overview of all of your lines.
Clicking on the “manage” button below any line will bring you to a dedicated page with more information about that specific plan.
You get a bunch of info here.
You can see the device name and number, see the plan name, included features, and price, and manage your data usage.
You can also manage your plan add-ons (I don’t recommend any of them, they are expensive and you don’t need them, but you can see a full list of add-ons here), and you get additional options and settings for each line.
You can suspend the device, manage number sync (which is where you can use your same phone number on a connected smartwatch), you can request to have your phone unlocked, you can reset your voicemail password, and you can change your phone number.
To change plans, simply click on the “change plan” button and select the plan you’d like to switch to.
AT&T will switch your plan immediately.
You’ll receive credit for the remaining balance on the plan you had, and you’ll be charged a prorated amount for the plan you switched to.
You’ll also be charged for one month in advance for the plan you switched to.
Because of this, I don’t recommend you switch plans too frequently.
AT&T also lets you manage your account with the myAT&T app.
The app sucks.
It’s slow to load, just like the website.
In fact, it feels like you’re using the website just with an app border around it.
To manage your lines, tap “manage my plan” on the main account tab, and then select the line you want to manage.
The other tabs in the myAT&T app are:
- Shop tab - has a bunch of offers and promotions to try and get you to upgrade to a new phone
- Support tab - gives you options for getting help and support for your devices and account
- More tab - manage specific settings for the app and see all of AT&T’s other available apps
Overall I really wish the AT&T website and apps were faster, and that they put my line information right on the account dashboard page.
AT&T Customer Service and Support
Like with all carriers, AT&T customer service and support can be hit-or-miss.
And that’s exactly how it was for me.
I interacted with AT&T customer service and support a total of four times.
The first time was when I called in to AT&T customer service over the phone to get my online order straightened out, and I had a great experience.
The representative I spoke with was super friendly and helpful, and she was even the one who recommended I get my account activated with her before then placing an online order to get the $250 promo credit.
Plus, she was kind enough to waive the $30 activation fees per line.
Website Chat Support
The second interaction I had with AT&T support was on their website chat system.
I reached out because I wanted to get Stream Saver turned off on my account, and if you saw my review video you’ll know my account was broken and I didn’t have the option to do it myself.
During the online chat, I was transferred to three different reps to help with this simple task.
Then, after chatting for an hour, the rep finally said he was able to make the change.
Except on my end, the change was never applied.
Stream Saver was still turned on, and my Elite plan was still capping video at 480p, or 1.5Mbps.
What a waste of time.
The third interaction I’ve had with AT&T customer support is on Twitter via their @ATTHelp handle.
And I’ve actually used Twitter to ask questions and get help with my account numerous times in the past, too.
Twitter is definitely better than AT&T’s website chat feature.
Your conversations are saved forever, which is great, and if you leave Twitter you won’t be disconnected from the representative.
Instead, the way Twitter support works is the AT&T rep will simply get back to you as soon as they can.
This is perfect for having an asynchronous conversation and getting help with an issue that isn’t urgent or too time-sensitive.
But the support you get on Twitter can also be hit or miss.
I’ve had representatives not know about basic tablet plans that AT&T offers for their postpaid subscribers.
And I’ve had knowledgeable reps that provide great information.
AT&T In-Store Support
The fourth way I’ve interacted with AT&T support is in-store.
And honestly, all of my in-store experiences have been great.
The representatives have been friendly and helpful.
And if you do happen to get a representative who is just starting out and still learning the ropes of AT&T, often there is a store manager nearby that can provide additional help and assistance.
The only disappointing thing I learned about stores is that they cannot cancel lines for you.
Instead, you need to call AT&T at 611 from your AT&T phone.
Is AT&T Worth It?
Is AT&T worth it for single-line users?
If you are a single-line user looking for a great plan on the AT&T network, then I don’t think any of AT&T’s postpaid plans are worth it.
Instead, I suggest you consider AT&T Prepaid.
AT&T Prepaid offers an annual plan that comes out to $25/month for 8GB, which is awesome, and the AT&T Prepaid Unlimited Plus plan is basically the same plan as Unlimited Extra but for $25 less per month.
It even includes 22GB of priority data and 10GB of hotspot data.
Going with AT&T Prepaid would end up saving you $300+ per year after all taxes and fees, and I easily think it’s worth it over postpaid for single-line users.
Other MVNOs also offer great cheap AT&T plans that may be worth checking out.
Is AT&T worth it for families?
Families may consider going with Cricket Wireless.
Cricket’s $60 Unlimited More plan comes out to just $33 per line for a family of four, and that INCLUDES all taxes and fees.
Plus, Cricket’s plan is basically the same plan as AT&T Unlimited Starter, but with added features and benefits.
Cricket includes 15GB of hotspot data, compared to no hotspot data on Starter, and you are also getting 150GB of cloud storage on Cricket.
If you’re looking for a more premium experience on the AT&T network, or you’d simply like the option to finance your devices, then it can make sense to upgrade to an AT&T postpaid plan.
As I mentioned earlier, I suggest you use the mix-and-match feature to put each line on your account on the plan it needs.
Keeping most lines on Unlimited Starter or Unlimited Extra will help reduce your cell phone bill.
Also make sure to apply for AT&T’s Signature Discount program to get a discount on your service.
Is AT&T worth it for T-Mobile or Verizon customers?
Honestly, if you’re happy with your current plan on T-Mobile or Verizon, I wouldn’t switch.
These plans are from popular prepaid carriers and MVNOs, and they’ll let you keep the same coverage on either the T-Mobile or Verizon networks while providing you with a lower cost on your plan.
If you are feeling dissatisfied with your coverage or data speeds on T-Mobile or Verizon, or if you’d simply like to take advantage a free iPhone 12 or Galaxy S21 trade-in offer from AT&T, then yes it can make sense to switch.
I also think it would make sense to switch to AT&T if you are eligible for the Signature Program discount and switching plans would help lower your cell phone bill.
Overall, AT&T offers a fantastic network with robust coverage and fast speeds.
Their experience is hampered by their poorly designed website and application, but hopefully you won’t be using those too much anyway.
If you’re looking for a great premium unlimited plan, I think AT&T is where it’s at.