Is it Worth Buying a New Phone Now to Avoid Tiered Data Plans?

It’s been a few weeks since we have heard about tired data plans coming to Verizon, but once again we are hearing  that Verizon will end unlimited data plans. This is often followed up with readers asking if they should upgrade to a new phone now, in order to lock in an unlimited data plan.

The answer will vary from user to user, but we wanted to share some guidance on the matter, especially because upgrading means locking into a phone for the next 2 years.

If You Already Have a Verizon Smartphone

Currently both 3G and 4G data plans on Verizon are $29.99 a month for unlimited data. When new plans arrive, Verizon typically grandfathers in the current subscribers, allowing them to keep their current plan and pricing until they make a plan change that removes the old plan. This means if you have an unlimited plan now, you should be able to keep it when you switch to a new phone.

Surprisingly, word on the street is that if you upgrade from a 3G smartphone to a 4G smartphone you will be able to keep your unlimited data plan. This is surprising to us, but would make sense given that the new data plans won’t make a distinction between 3G and 4G.

Answer: Unless you are already a very heavy data user, which puts you in the minority, I wouldn’t recommend buying a new phone only because of this rumor. However, if you have already picked out your next smartphone, it won’t hurt to upgrade before any possible changes.

If You Are Thinking of Getting A Verizon Smartphone

If you don’t already have a data plan, you may be tempted to jump on the smartphone ship today to lock in an unlimited plan, but you should step back a second before you buy a new phone based on the rumor of tiered data plans.

  1. This is just a rumor. We heard the same rumor back in March, which caused a number of users to buy a ThunderBolt in order to keep unlimited data, but the rumor never came true.
  2. If you don’t already have a smartphone, you may not want one of the current 4G LTE Android smartphones to be your first. They have issues with battery life and are still aimed squarely at early adopters.
  3. Many users don’t use a lot of data. Even as a power user I have only gone over 2GB once in 2011. Yes, it’s nice to have an unlimited pool of data, and 4G may increase this use for power users, but you should think about how and where you plan to use your smartphone before you purchase. Especially if the only reason you want to upgrade now is this rumor.

Answer: Not worth upgrading unless you already have a phone picked out.

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Light at the end of a Tiered Tunnel

In addition to tiered data plans, we expect to see Verizon introduce “Family Data Plan”s this summer which will take some of the sting out of having four family members with smartphones. Verizon hasn’t announced any plans yet, but we expect that these family data plans will also be tiered and will force users to abandon their unlimited plans to get onto a shared family data plan.

  

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