Verizon Wireless Review
Everybody has heard of Verizon. It is unquestionably the largest cell phone provider in America, offering the most reliable coast-to-coast coverage and the highest consistent speeds and uptime in the industry. Barring a couple of the competition's carrier exclusives, you also have your pick of almost any phone on the market, and Verizon's customer service team is well recognized for its quality. Granted, you pay a lot for all of that stability and choice, so if you're on a budget your best cell phone plans may be a little lower on our lineup. If you're looking for the best of the best overall, Verizon is the only true contender. As such, it earns our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award.
Coverage & Quality
It's a tighter race than it's been in the past, but Verizon Wireless still boasts the best cell phone coverage in the nation. According to independent testing and analytics agency RootMetrics, Verizon offers the best connectivity, strongest reliability, and highest average speeds across both urban and rural areas. Put simply, you're more likely to have stable service with Verizon, even when your friends on other carriers can't even connect.
Pricing & Fees
There's no getting around it: Verizon is pricey. A simple comparison of mobile plans reveals that Big Red is more expensive than any other provider. The company's single-line plans start at $60, giving you unlimited talk and text and 1GB of data. That's upgradable to 2GB of data for $75, but Verizon works hard to obscure both prices.
You can get the plans for $45 and $60, respectively, if you sign up for Verizon Edge. Edge is the company's early-upgrade program, which reduces the cost of lines by $15 each but requires you to pay the full price of your phone over 24 months, with the ability to upgrade after 18 months of payments. In short, you can always expect to pay more over time with one of those plans, in exchange for paying less up front. We break down the details of Verizon Edge and other early upgrade plans here.
Verizon's family plans are just as hard on the wallet. Light-usage families can likely get away with 6GB of shared data and four lines for $240 a month, but most quartets need to spring for 10GB of data, which runs them $260. You can add or subtract lines for $40 a phone and move your data allocation up or down to match your family's usage. As with single lines, you can get much cheaper month-to-month prices if you ditch the contract and go with Verizon Edge, but you have to pay monthly for each of your phones on top of the line fee. In the long run, expect to pay slightly more for the ability to upgrade early than you would with a classic contract.
Unfortunately, Big Red doesn't shirk away from fees. Every new phone you add to a plan will tack an extra $35 activation fee onto your first month's bill, and should you decided to return that phone within the two-week grace period, there is another $35 restocking fee. If you go with a contract instead of the Verizon Edge early upgrade plan and try to get out of it early, you can owe up to $350 in early termination fees.
Like all of the best cell phone providers, Verizon offers unlimited talk and text with every one of its plans. As befits a national carrier, it has business plans, international plans and will subsidize the cost of expensive, $600 phones if you sign a two-year contract. Of course, Verizon knows it's the top dog, so it doesn't try to lure customers away from other providers with promises to pay your early termination fees; it doesn't need to. When you go with Verizon, you're willing to pay for reliability.
Verizon's selection of devices suits the biggest name in the business. They stock popular devices including iPhones, Androids, BlackBerrys and Windows Phones, so there's no shortage of diversity. While you might not be able to get an Amazon Fire Phone or Sharp AQUOS Crystal – devices exclusive to AT&T and Sprint, respectively – there are decent deals on all of the latest mobile phones from every manufacturer, including the Verizon-exclusive Droid line of phones from Motorola.
Tablets and hotspots are both available online, including the latest Nexus tablet from Google and iPad from Apple. These are, of course, the LTE-enabled versions of the tablets, designed for those who prefer to have their iPad connect directly to the internet than be tethered to their phones.
Help & Support
Look anywhere on the internet and you'll find people complaining about big companies. It's no different for Verizon, who has its fair share of disillusioned former customers with tales of bad experiences. While this is true of every carrier, we still back Verizon as having one of the best customer service teams in the business. Based on both our direct interactions with every provider and our extensive research of other customers' impressions, we happily recommend Big Red's customer service team. They tend to be unfailingly friendly and quick to tackle problems.
Verizon Wireless is the biggest, most widespread cell phone carrier in America. True, in may not be the provider for you; after all, if your budget is tight then price probably means far more to you than coverage. When you take into account its diversity of phones, great customer support team and the fact that you can access the finest network in America, it remains our number one pick.