Visible (VZW) vs. Mint Mobile (T-Mobile)

Discussion in 'Smartphones and Tablets' started by Tech Junky, Sep 6, 2021.

  1. Tech Junky

    Tech Junky Notebook Deity

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    It's a compelling option for saving some cash on unlimited service @ $40/mo + cash back on new accounts.

    However it's somewhat inconsistent. All of the advertising says up to 200mbps however, it's usually about 5 mbps and worse. I tested out a Pixel that was on their preferred list of phones and it was just as slow as my OP 8 Pro.

    Sporadically it will go up to 20-25mbps for speeds but, not too often. Figuring the OP 8 Pro has more than enough channHoels compatible with just about every US carrier it should be doing better than your average cheap-ish phone when testing out carrier networks.

    A bad sign was when going to a VZW store and the EE's didn't have a clue what Visible is when it's a VZW MVNO that uses their network.

    I had been using Google Fi for years and it uses T-Mobile / US Cellular (Sprint / before merger) for connectivity. How)ever if you're not using a Pixel or a preferred handset it only ends up using TM. Which is fine as they have great coverage / decent speeds. The only draw back of GFI is the per GB pricing @ $10/GB.

    I installed a new Android HU in my car and added Amazon Music / live Google Maps (google earth) that had been disabled by the OEM NAV system) so, needed to switch things up for data. The OEM Nav system didn't use that much data so I added a 2nd sim to GFI as it only added maybe $3/mo at most when deviating outside of my cached area.

    Visible is clocking quite a bit of data though when driving around w/ Maps / Music open. Coverage seems alright as I don't completely disconnect long enough to notice on either app but it does leave something to be desired.

    So, I dug into some MVNO info for TM Unlimited plans and found a sweet spot for pricing @ $30/mo with Mint Mobile. This should work well w/o the confines of GFI (~$23/mo w/o data) and Visible @ $40/mo but with slow speeds.

    Just downloaded the MM app to the phone and ordered a test sim for $0 w/ shipping to prep for the end of cycle switch from Visible to Mint and save $10 in the process and unlock the true speed of the phone again on a proper network.

    I've worked on these carrier networks in the past over the years and there was a point when VZW was impressive for speeds but, it seems they've managed to not be competitive and ATT well, that's pretty useless as they just don't really compete they just sustain. Both ATT / VZW went the mmWAVE route and it bit them in the @$$ to the point they spent billions on more spectrum to get better signal penetration / coverage to compete with the underdog.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2021
  2. Tech Junky

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    Ok, so here's what I did.

    Downloaded the Mint app.
    Ordered a 7 day trial sim.
    They fedex'd it 2-day.
    Walked through the setup in the app to activate it since it's not a full prepaid sim you would pick up in a store that's able to be activated online through a browser.
    Setup the APN as described
    Finished the APP walk through and rebooted the phone.

    As I suspected the TM connection is really good as the speed test hit 500mbps+ on the download side before I cancelled it to see the data usage. The 250MB of free data you get with the trial sim was spent completely on a partial test. I'm curious to see how fast a full test will result in but, waiting out the current Visible billing period for a couple of more days which ends on the 22nd before activating a full plan and moving my number over.

    The other quandary is on the Unlimited plan you get 5GB of hotspot data @ 5G speeds and then it drops to 2G speeds (128kbps). The plans don't outline the hotspot data allowance other than the Unlimited plan @ 5GB though the FAQ say all plans have hotspot data.

    Yep. All plans include the Mobile Hotspot feature at no extra charge. The data you use just pulls from your monthly 5G • 4G LTE amount. All you need is a hotspot capable phone.
    Reminder: Mobile hotspot is limited to 5GB for Unlimited plans.

    https://www.mintmobile.com/faqs/do-all-plans-include-mobile-hotspot/

    Short answer: You choose.
    Long answer: All Mint Mobile plans allow you to choose how much 5G • 4G LTE data you need each month—4GB, 10GB, 15GB or Unlimited data. When you hit your data limit, we don’t cut you off, we just slow it down. If you need more data, then you can do a one-time data purchase of either 1GB or 3GB in your account (not available on an Unlimited plan). Or if you find you are hitting the limit each month, simply upgrade your plan to the next data level at any time.
    https://www.mintmobile.com/faqs/how-much-data-do-i-get-in-my-plan/

    Do all plans include mobile hotspot?
    Yes. All Mint Mobile plans include a free mobile hotspot allotment. So, as long as you have a hotspot capable device, you can access 5G or 4G LTE data without extra charge. If you subscribe to unlimited plan, your mobile hotspot data is set to 35GB.

    $30/Month Features

    This is the 12-month unlimited version of Mint Mobile. Its features include;

    • Costs $30 per month
    • The data speeds slow after you exhaust the 35GB allotment
    • Has a Mobile hotspot up to 5GB
    • Has a Wi-Fi calling and texting capability
    • Free calls to Mexico and Canada
    https://www.deviceproblem.com/mint-mobile-hotspot/

    Mobile hotspot & tethering
    Mint allows tethering and mobile hotspot on compatible phones. Speeds while tethering are not throttled. Data used while tethering will drain subscribers’ regular data allowances.

    On the 4GB, 10GB, and 15GB plans, Mint does not place an artificial cap on hotspot data (e.g., a subscriber on the 10GB plan could use all eig. On Mint’s “unlimited” (35GB plan), subscribers are capped at 5GB of hotspot use
    https://coveragecritic.com/mobile-phone-service/mint-mobile-review/

    If you go with one of the three data plans, you can use any or all of that data as a mobile hotspot. The unlimited plan comes with 5GB, which should be enough to get you by in a pinch but won't replace your home internet. Mobile hotspot activation worked first try with no issues.
    https://www.androidcentral.com/mint-mobile-review

    So, taking into the account of a 5GB cap on Unlimited vs 100% @ 5G on the lower plans it makes more sense to do the 15GB/mo plan @ $25/mo. Most tethered data won't need the full speed of 5G while connected in the car but, in the event of tethering the laptop it would be nicer to have full speed data beyond 5GB to quickly lookup / download something when needed vs finding a hotspot WIFI connection somewhere.

    The alternative would be going unlimited for $30/mo and after the 5GB threshold switch to streaming from the phone through the car unit over BT. The downside to this is the G-Maps wouldn't live update over BT.

    upload_2021-9-18_12-46-46.png
    https://www.mintmobile.com/plans/
     
  3. Tech Junky

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    Did the conversion / ported my number.

    Looks like the SIM is still showing the temp number from the trial even thought he port completed message came through. I rebooted / removed SIM / etc. and just have to wait it out before everything is 100% active.

    Did a completed Speed Test and it's quite impressive w/ 100mbs upload and ~6X that for download.

    Screenshot_20210920-110655.jpg
     
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  4. Tech Junky

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    So, I took the phone for a spin in the car and the Android Head Unit I installed back in March appreciated more bandwidth from the phone compared to Visible's 5mbps. Things updated quickly upon connecting to the phone compared to the major hesitation with Visible. Looks like the app updates / music for an hour or so used up ~300MB of data which isn't too bad. It's going to be a bit of a discovery mission to figure out how much data it actually uses over the next couple of months and whether sating on the 15GB plan @ 5G speed vs Unlimited (5GB tether cap) are comparable.

    The port from Visible to Mint hit a snag and wasn't very automated though with the approach I took. The FREE sim w/ 250MB of data might have been the issue or Visible (VZW). I opened a ticket with them through online chat when I received 2 e-mails from them saying they had completed the port request w/ both the temp # and my #. I dug around online and some mentioned using NZW instead of Visible to port the number with better success. I gave it a day and checked in on the ticket and mentioned I only had about 24 hours for them to move things over and to escalate the ticket. I pinged them again this morning w/ the concern / timing and mentioned the VZW option and about 4 hours later the number had been moved. I've worked for a couple of carriers in the past and know how these systems work so, I'm guessing it got hung up in the automated process by using Visible as the carrier instead of VZW even though they're the same company but, with totally different pricing being 50% cheaper on Visible w/o all the padded thrills that come with a true Red plan.

    Checking with the agents @ Mint though on the ticket....
    upload_2021-9-22_16-45-26.png

    So, the issue with the # port was the SIM type I went with to avoid either:
    A. go to local store and pick one up for $2 w/ 250MB trial
    B. order one from Mint for free w/ FedEx 2-day

    So, if you were to go with a full fledged SIM w/ a Plan attached to it or the 2 x SIM trial 1 being the 250MB and the other to be Plan activated after the trial period it would have went off w/o a hitch as the system would process the port automagically in minutes VS opening a ticket to manually convert the FREE card to a PAID card.

    It's a bit of conflicting info from the reps but, I was able to activate the cad, get a temp #, test the data, convert to a full plan, the number port didn't work though as it hit a snag in the automated scripts that move you from one carrier to another. It's a potential issue you MIGHT run into if you follow this method VS just making the switch with a retail bundled card you'd find either directly @ mintmobile.com or retailer like BB / Target. I do think from a technical perspective the chat rep doesn't have the full picture of what happened to cause the port to hang in the system but, it's just something to be aware of. There's so many pieces in the chain when you move a number around from prouder to provider that it doesn't take much to glitch it and require manual intervention. There's several automated steps in the process that happen to verify account information / authentication between companies that can go wrong. 2-days though to move the # isn't bad considering years ago it could take a week or more to move things around in the systems.

    All in all though being an insider with carriers this was fairly smooth moving away from Visible to Mint. It could have been much worse if Visible decided to hold my number captive or if Mint didn't resolve the port before the end of the billing period hit @ Midnight tonight. Though some posts alleviated the anxiety of cancelled accounts still having 50-60 days to move their # from Visible vs them just releasing it back into the pool of numbers immediately. HTH anyone considering the switch to Mint or any other carrier. When I moved from Google Fi to Visible it was seamless and took maybe a couple of hours to process completely w/ data / messaging up and running. Can't recall how long it took moving from T-Mobile to Google Voice though in the past. Anyway this isn't my first rodeo in moving #'s around between carriers.
     
  5. Tech Junky

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    If you're thinking about switching use my link and we both get $15 if you sign up.

    http://fbuy.me/sHXFk

    Starter 3 month pricing:
    [​IMG]

    Full plan pricing:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2021
  6. hertzian56

    hertzian56 Notebook Deity

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    isn't vzw just verizon? That is a good deal for 4gb IF it has good coverage. When I was with boost for cheap years ago, even in a huge city I got not good terrible coverage in places where it should not have been that bad. I use a mvno, straight talk, for years. For the same 35$ I went from 2gb to 5gb to now 10gb(thru october) and I have a verizon phone so it uses those towers which gives me really good coverage most of the time. Really for my phone use I don't need more than 3gb but I'm not a heavy app user just the basics.
     
  7. Tech Junky

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    @hertzian56

    Yes, VZW = Verizon / Visible is the MVNO version of Verizon - less "perks" bundled into the service to drop the price in 1/2 or lower.

    If you have VZW coverage that's good with a handset that gets good speeds then you would be fine w/ Visible or if you don't care about he data side of things the unlimited part of Visible might be appealing. My case probably isn't the case most people have using their service though I expected them to live up to the hype and the 200mbps speeds they touted were never realized.

    $15/mo though is a pretty good starting point for 4GB of data + unlimited calls / sms

    Google Fi (MVNO) - $20/mo gets you unlimited calls / sms and data billed @ $10/GB

    http://fbuy.me/sHXFk - if you go here and check your IMEI for service it might be an option if you have a recent handset that has some GSM bands built into it. If not, there's some trade options available as well as inexpensive handsets available.

    I've had a slew of different MVNO accounts over the years as well including ST for a period of time because paying retail prices for phone service is a bit dumb financially. Even the native Red/Blue/Magenta plans that are supposedly "unlimited" have caps in which you go past the point they limit speeds as well. Each of them are different limits but, the number that sticks out is usually 25GB or 50GB before you get knocked down to a lower speed tier. Since most carriers don't give detailed data use graphs anymore with this new unlimited marketplace it's hard to figure out unless you setup the data meter on your phone or go off grid to another provider that provides the metrics to make a decision i.e. Google Fi. With G-Fi I was able to monitor daily down to the MB usage. Mint isn't quite as detailed but, with the non-unlimited plans you have a gauge that updates with usage.

    upload_2021-9-25_0-31-2.png
    upload_2021-9-25_0-31-25.png

    upload_2021-9-25_0-24-45.png

    There are plenty of MVNO options for all 3 carriers though and they all have different pricing / options. For the most basic plans you can get the price down to about $7/mo w/o any data. The average cost for MVNO data is $10/GB or more. So, with that in mind and taking the pricing graph above you could easily hit $40/mo for the 4GB plan and on the native plans you usually clock in around $85/mo for unlimited options. The exception being Metro-TM @ $60/mo which saves $25/mo w/o all of the bells and whistles.

    Things get weird with the data pricing / caps though when you deviate too far from bundles.

    The superficial reason for switching to different plans for me in 2021 is different needs / wants for data. Mostly got in car use at this point. Depending on how use shakes out over the next few months will determine how I wan tto process whether on 15GB or up to UNL w/ 5GB hotspot cap (protected data for car use) .

    It's a bit different truly pre-paying for 3/6/12 months at a time to get the better discounts but, not having to pay the bill each month is appealing as well. Going with the 15GB/mo plan offers the biggest "discount" on data @ ($20/mo) when going for a 12 month renewal. While it's $60/yr cheaper than the UNL plan. G-Fi offers UNL as well but, it's in the neighborhood of $70 w/ hotspot data & $60/mo w/o. https://fi.google.com/about/plans/ but, it's $20/mo + $10/GB is good for when you're on WIFI most of the time and occasionally need mobile data. 5GB/mo puts you on the same pricing as the$70 plan but, IIRC the per GB charge stops after 6GB of use capping the bill @ $80/mo as a safe guard and the top limit is 15GB vs 22GB on the UNL plans.

    So, Mint being the same thing for a whole lot less @ $25/mo (15GB) made more sense. The appeal of G-Fi featuring 3 carrier networks has faded with the consolidation of TM / Sprint and unless you're in the midwest you won't be using USCC as they're regional.
     
  8. hertzian56

    hertzian56 Notebook Deity

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    Yeah I had a cousin who used google fi for a while, if you need a moderate amount of data, 2-5gb, it's not a good deal and in rural and small towns it doesn't seem to get good coverage. I have been in a mixture of large metro, rural and more isolated places so coverage is more important than absolute speeds. Just maps/text/call/browser speeds is fine, so real 4g speeds according to the official standard.

    One big problem with the lower priced plans is you have to pay for months at a time. I would only do that with a proven by me provider so if ST had that I would do it.

    Total Wireless is a Verizon only MVNO which I have used for a second line before and it got the same coverage as my main ST line. I think for 33$ with autorefill you get 10gb and hotspot. That 10gb might be a limited special like my ST is though. It's usually the 5/6gb.

    Verizon themselves have a monthly prepaid plan 35$ for 15gb data and so called 5g if you've got the phone for it. -5$ month w autorefill so $30. Video limited to DVD quality, no big deal imo. I just don't want the hassle of porting tbh and I am using an old address in one of the lowest cell tax states which saves a bundle each year, no reason to change it.

    I am trying to continue to use my S5 since it's got so many of the things that I want in a phone so BYOP is great. I have no need for speeds faster than what I have so the whole 5g stuff has no appeal to me at all. Don't need more than around 3gb either like I said it's just that ST has just been adding gb's over the years to the same plan to keep up with everyone else lol I expect another permanent bump in the next few months from just looking at the other services similar priced plans.
     
  9. Tech Junky

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    FI was a good option when they had some tower diversity to cover gaps but, it was limited to only a specific set of phones that could switch from one provider to another not every phone on the MVNO could do so. More push towards the Pixel lineup to get those enhanced options if needed. Back in the day though you couldn't even activate w/o an approved phone. It's opened up quite a bit in the past couple of years though to other phones supporting GSM. The novelty wore off long ago for me though with them. I do like the UI for monitoring the usage and there are some little perks if you travel north/south of the border but, nothing really special at this point.

    Proven in the places you use your phone is always better than a general map saying it should work there. TM has the same / slightly better coverage than the other two in most cases. The frequencies used are broader than they used to be with newer handsets. Using a GS5 though is quite a bit outdated when it comes to the frequencies you're able to pick up (coverage)

    https://www.phonemore.com/compare/phones/oneplus-8-pro-128gb-vs-samsung-galaxy-s5-sm-g900k/13522629
    upload_2021-9-25_12-24-44.png

    Even the most inexpensive phones released this year should yield an improvement in coverage when it comes to trying out different MVNO options. As you can see the GS5 has 4 bands in use compared to 20+ on my OP Pro 8. With the sunsetting of older technologies like 2G/3G and moving to VOLTE for voice it's evening the playing field for the big 3 to be more compatible with each other outside of the 5G differences. i.e. my GSM OPP8 worked on VZW for Voice / Data.

    The coverage issues in more rural areas is always going to be a contested issue until there's better penetration into the areas by carriers. The problem is there's not enough demand in those areas to cover the costs with running fiber / antennae to those areas. Figuring out which providers have the best coverage requires a bit of detective work or knocking on doors to find out what the natives use for service in those areas. Kind of makes you wan to regress back into the days of AMPS service where you could attach an external antenna to the phone to get more reach to the network.
     
  10. hertzian56

    hertzian56 Notebook Deity

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    My s5 has volte it's a setting to enable advanced calls, one of the reasons I dumped my s4. Yeah like I said though the signals I get are fine regardless of the lack of bands etc But of course where I get bad signals or no signals I could get better. Hasn't been an issue in my travels over the years though.

    sm-g900V

    I have an A01 which I got for like $30 so I could grab a sim/monthly plan card and try it out. It certainly is a lot zippier though with an 8 core vs 4 core, I may eventually switch to that. Also have a note 4 ereader/wifi and I used it as a second line for a month with Total, worked fine.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2021

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