Spectrum Mobile Review

Cell service for $14 a month? Yes, please.

Spectrum
Price
$14–$45/mo

Data
1GB–Unlimited data

  • Simple, flexible, and inexpensive service

Data effective 07/02/19. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Best Spectrum Mobile plans

You aren’t spoiled for choice with Spectrum Mobile, but the two plans you can choose from are flexible and straightforward. You can either go for an unlimited data plan or pay per gigabyte (gig or GB) of data you use (rounded up). Three is the magic number here. Each GB of data on the By the Gig plan costs $14, so if you use more than 3 GB each month, it’s cheaper to go with the Unlimited data plan.

The best thing about these plans is that you can switch back and forth, depending on how much data you need each month. If you start on the By the Gig plan but use more data than expected, you can upgrade to an unlimited plan midcycle.

Check out our top picks.

Best value

Spectrum Mobile By the Gig

From
$1400/mo

Pay only for the data you use, and you can upgrade to an unlimited plan at any time.

Best for data hogs

Spectrum Mobile Unlimited

From
$4500/mo

Get high-speed 4G LTE up to 20 GB per month and 5 GB high-speed hotspot data.

Data effective 07/02/19. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

How good is Spectrum Mobile service?

In short, Spectrum Mobile has good service and good prices. Though it doesn’t outright say so, Spectrum partners with Verizon Wireless. This is heavily implied by claims on Spectrum’s site that it uses “the nation’s largest, most reliable LTE network” and the fact that its coverage map is swathed in Verizon red.

That’s a good thing. Verizon does have the best 4G LTE network in the US, which means Spectrum Mobile customers benefit from Verizon’s speeds, reliability, and nationwide coverage.

But Spectrum Mobile is cheaper than getting Verizon service outright. At the time of writing, a Verizon Wireless unlimited plan starts at $75 for one person, while Spectrum offers unlimited data for $45 per month, which includes taxes and fees (Verizon’s prices don’t). So in this case, you’d save at least $360 per year going with Spectrum compared to Verizon.

So is it a Spectrum or Verizon network?

Spectrum Mobile is a mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO. Basically, Spectrum buys wireless service from Verizon at a discount and resells it to customers under different branding. So you get Verizon Wireless phone service, but you get bills and customer support from Spectrum. Other notable MVNOs include Google Fi and Straight Talk.

In addition to Verizon’s cellular network, Spectrum Mobile uses its own network of more than 500,000 Wi-Fi hotspots for service. Frequently connecting to Wi-Fi can keep your data use down, but since you have to be a Spectrum internet customer to get the mobile service anyway, you’d already have access to these hotspots. Getting Spectrum Mobile is just another way to capitalize on them.

If you get rid of your Spectrum internet service, you can keep using Spectrum Mobile, but it becomes much less of a bargain. Your rates go up $20 a month per line, and while you can still use the Wi-Fi hotspots, your Wi-Fi speeds top out at 5 Mbps. You also can’t add more lines. In our opinion, Spectrum Mobile isn’t worth it unless you stick with mobile and internet.

Pros

  • Verizon Wireless network
  • Flexible, no-contract plans
  • Inexpensive price

Cons

  • Requires Spectrum residential internet service to sign up
  • Streams 480p video
  • Compatible with few devices

Spectrum Mobile plans

Spectrum Mobile has two plans: Unlimited or By the Gig. You’re not locked into either one, so you can switch as needed. Though the plans are pretty straightforward, there is still a bit of fine print to wade through to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into.

First, the good news. Taxes and regulatory fees are included in the plan prices, which means fewer surprises when you get your bill. Both plans come with unlimited talk and text, including calls to Canada and Mexico and texts from the US to any country. You can also use your data as mobile hotspot data for no additional charge.

The news that’s not as good is that you’ll see a $10 activation fee per device when you sign up. You also have to be a Spectrum residential internet subscriber to get Spectrum Mobile. That means you can sign up for it only if you live in a Spectrum service area, though you can use the mobile service throughout the US. Lastly, video streaming is limited to 480p with no option to upgrade.

PlanPrice*DataVideo resolution
By the GigStarts at $14/mo.1 GB included; $14 per additional GB of data used, rounded up480p
Unlimited$45/mo.Unlimited (can be throttled after 20 GB)480p

*Data effective 07/02/19. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

By the Gig

The By the Gig plan starts at $14 per month, which gives you unlimited talk and text and 1 GB of data on your smartphone (tablets get the data but no talk or texts). You pay for the first GB at the beginning of your billing cycle, and if you use more than that—even by a few megabytes—you’ll be charged for another GB on your next bill. Still, that’s a steal if you’re looking for inexpensive cell service.

If you put more than one line of the By the Gig plan on your account, all the lines share data. So if there are four people on your plan who all go 0.1 GB over your initial 1 GB limit, your account will be charged for only one additional GB of shared data instead of a GB for each line.

Unlimited

Spectrum Mobile’s Unlimited plan costs $45 per month for each line. Like most other “unlimited” data plans, Spectrum Mobile’s Unlimited plan does actually have a limit. It throttles your data speeds after you use 20 GB in a billing cycle. So while you can technically use data after that, it could be frustratingly slow.

Similarly, while you can use “unlimited” hotspot data on this plan, only 5 GB will be 4G LTE, and those 5 GB count toward your 20 GB high-speed data allowance. You can keep using your device as a mobile hotspot, but the speed gets slowed down to 600 Kbps after you hit 5 GB.

Spectrum Mobile tech

From Wi-Fi hotspots to the latest flagship smartphones, Spectrum Mobile has all the tech you expect from your wireless provider.

Smartphones

Good news if you want a new flagship smartphone—you can buy the latest iPhones, Google Pixels, and Samsung Galaxy phones through Spectrum, either outright or on a payment plan. You can also protect your shiny new phone with a protection plan that covers accidental damage as well as loss or theft.

On the flip side of that, Spectrum Mobile pretty much offers only flagship smartphones. So if you want to snag something cheaper or even carry your own phone over to the service, you don’t have many options. At the time of writing, the carrier supports BYOD (bring your own device) for just 19 smartphone models. All of them are either iPhones (iPhone 6 or newer) or Samsung Galaxy phones (S8 or newer).

The service is still pretty young. It launched in late June 2018, and the phone selection has already gotten better since then. We’re guessing the options will continue to get better over time.

Networks

There are four major wireless networks in the US: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint (those last two are still trying to merge at the time of writing, so we’ll see what happens there). Beyond those four and their prepaid brands, almost all the other wireless carriers in the country are MVNOs. These companies pay to use one or more of the networks and redistribute the service to customers, usually as a prepaid deal.

MVNOs tend to offer great deals. Most plans cost less than getting service directly from the big cellular companies, and you can usually get phone service without a credit check.

The iffy thing about MVNOs is that cellular networks usually put their direct customers before MVNO customers. In this case, direct Verizon Wireless customers might get better or faster service than Spectrum Mobile customers when too many people are using the same cell towers at the same time.

Mobile apps

Spectrum has a bunch of apps. There are two you’ll want for the best Spectrum Mobile experience: Spectrum Mobile Account and My Spectrum. Both are available for iOS and Android.

My Spectrum lets you create your Wi-Fi hotspot profile and set up data usage notifications, so everyone on your plan knows when you’re about to go over your preset limit. The Spectrum Mobile Account app lets the account holder change plans, pay bills, and monitor data use for every device on the account. Neither of them seem to have a hotspot finder, which would be nice.

Hotspots

Wi-Fi hotspots are a big part of Spectrum Mobile’s appeal. You can set up your phone to automatically connect to any of Spectrum’s 250,000+ hotspots and use less data. That means you spend less money. But as we mentioned before, all Spectrum internet customers can also access these Wi-Fi hotspots. So you could theoretically get the same data-saving benefits with any cellphone plan.

The main difference seems to be the automatic connection, which also explains why the service’s phone selection is so lackluster (the feature works only on certain smartphones).

Spectrum Mobile also lets you use your phone as a mobile hotspot. On By the Gig plans, regular data rates apply but there isn’t an extra charge to use data as hotspot data. Unlimited plans can use up to 5 GB of their 20 GB 4G LTE allowance as mobile hotspot data. After that, hotspot speeds are throttled to 600 Kbps.

Our verdict

Spectrum Mobile is a good deal, and we think it’s worth a try if you have Spectrum internet. The biggest problem with the service is its lackluster phone selection, but if you have a compatible phone (or don’t mind buying a new one), go ahead and save yourself some money with Spectrum Mobile.

View Plans for Spectrum

Spectrum Mobile FAQ

What is Spectrum Mobile?

Spectrum Mobile is a low-cost cellphone service available to Spectrum internet customers.

What network does Spectrum Mobile use?

Spectrum Mobile uses Verizon Wireless’s nationwide network and Spectrum’s own Wi-Fi hotspots to offer great coverage and a reliable signal.

What phones can you use on Spectrum Mobile?

You can use iPhones (6 and newer), Samsung Galaxy phones (S8 and newer), and a few other smartphone models on Spectrum Mobile. You can bring your own compatible phone or purchase one through the service. If you want to bring your own device, make sure to check your phone’s compatibility.

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