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LG Nexus 4 Carrier Comparison

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The LG Nexus 4, Google’s latest Nexus-branded smartphone, is primed and ready to launch tomorrow in the United States tomorrow. Those looking to pick it up will have an assortment of options when it comes to using the Nexus 4 over a wireless network. Here, we detail the pre-paid and post-paid versions of the Nexus 4 that will be touching down this month.

Google won’t be offering a Nexus smartphone on a 4G LTE network this year but that doesn’t mean that customers interested in picking one up will be without high-speed data options. It also doesn’t mean that the LG Nexus 4 is a dud. In fact, the Nexus 4 sports some serious hardware with an inexpensive price tag.

The LG Nexus 4 will feature a 4.7-inch HD display, a quad-core processor, 8MP rear camera, front-facing camera, a design similar to the Galaxy Nexus, and of course, the latest version of Android, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

It’s a package that is extremely impressive with the prices Google and the Nexus 4′s official carrier, T-Mobile, will be offering. However, T-Mobile isn’t the only option for Nexus 4 owners and here, we take a look at the options that Nexus 4 owners have when buying the Nexus 4 tomorrow or any other day.

Locked Nexus 4 (T-Mobile)

The only carrier that will be offering the Nexus 4 on-contract in the United States will be T-Mobile which will be releasing the Nexus 4 on its network starting November 14th, a day after tomorrow’s official release. T-Mobile will be charging $199.99 on-contract for the Nexus 4 which will run on its HSPA+ 42 network, T-Mobile’s current high-speed network.

While not as fast as 4G LTE, it will provide fast enough data speeds for many users. A comparison between HSPA+ and 4G LTE can be seen in the video below depicting AT&T 4G LTE versus T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network.

Now, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of buying a T-Mobile on-contract with T-Mobile:

Pros

  • $199.99 on-contract price, cheaper than most high-end smartphones on T-Mobile.
  • Cheap high-end data plan: $109.99/month ($2639.76 over 2 years) Unlimited everything.
  • Hotspot Support

Cons

  • Locked into a contract.
  • No Wi-FI Calling.

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The Nexus 4 launches tomorrow.

Unlocked Nexus 4

Like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the previous Nexus smartphone, the Nexus 4 will also be sold unlocked starting tomorrow through Google’s online Google Play Store. While T-Mobile will only sell the 16GB model, the unlocked version comes in both 8GB and 16GB variants which will be sold for $299 and $349 respectively.

Even better, customers won’t have to sign a contract in order to use them. Instead, users will be to choose between two GSM carriers here in the United States and easily switch between the two provided they own the appropriate SIM card. AT&T and T-Mobile, in the United States, will be those two carriers that are accessible to unlocked Nexus 4 owners.

So, let’s break down the pros and cons of both AT&T and T-Mobile for the unlocked version of the Nexus 4.

AT&T

AT&T, like T-Mobile, offers an HSPA+ network that the Nexus 4 will run on. Unfortunately, the HSPA+ network employed by AT&T is slower than the one found on T-Mobile. Instead of HSPA+ 42, AT&T will offer HSPA+ 21 and HSPA+ 14.4 which will provide slower speeds than T-Mobile’s network. That being said, here are the pros and cons of AT&T.

Pros

  • Large HSPA+ 4G network.
  • Solid 3G network (Especially good for metropolitan areas).
  • Can use with an AT&T account.

Cons

  • HSPA+ speeds slower than T-Mobile.

T-Mobile

Like the on-contract T-Mobile Nexus 4, the unlocked Nexus 4 supports T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 network which is much faster than AT&T’s HSPA+ network.

Pros

  • Attractive price.
  • High-speed HSPA+ network.

Cons

  • No Wi-Fi Calling

Now that we have the networks out of the way, it’s time to take a look at the pre-paid options that customers have after picking up an unlocked Nexus 4 through the Google Play Store.

T-Mobile

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T-Mobile’s 4G Monthly plans are worth looking at.

Nexus 4 shoppers that wish to go the pre-paid route will have an assortment of options with an unlocked Nexus 4. And maybe the best option is the T-Mobile pre-paid plans know as T-Mobile Monthly 4G.

These are extremely inexpensive data plans that users can pick up with an unlocked Nexus 4. One of the most basic data plans under this model is a $30 plan that includes up to 5GB of full-speed 4G HSPA+ data. It only offers 100 minutes of talk time though.

There are an assortment of other data options as well, $60 for unlimited talk, text, and data and $70 for unlimited talk, text, and data. The sixty dollar plan will see data speeds throttled to slower than 4G speeds after 2GB of data while the seventy dollar plan will see throttling after 5GB of data. Read our T-Mobile Monthly 4G Review for more details.

Pros

  • Cheap.
  • In-Store Support.

Cons

  • Plans with unlimited talk are expensive.

Straight Talk

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Straight Talk coverage map.

Straight Talk is also an option for those looking to go the pre-paid route with the Nexus 4. Straight Talk will allow owners to use their Nexus 4 on either the HSPA+ network of AT&T or T-Mobile.

Straight Talk Wireless offers an unlimited plan with unlimited calling, texting and data for $45 a month without any contracts.

While Straight Talk is worth a look for those looking to operate the Nexus 4 on AT&T or T-Mobile, Straight Talk’s vague throttling policies and unclear data restrictions make it a problematic option. Read our Straight Talk Review for more details.

Pros

  • Great price for unlimited.
  • Good coverage.

Cons

  • Unlimited data usage isn’t clear.
  • Unclear throttling policy.
  • No Hotspot Support.

Red Pocket Mobile

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Red Pocket Mobile coverage map.

Red Pocket Mobile is another option that Nexus 4 buyers will want to look at. Unlike Straight Talk, Red Pocket Mobile offers service through AT&T only. However, Red Pocket Mobile is more clear on its data policies making its $54.99 price tag for data a much easier pill to swallow. Read out Red Pocket Mobile Review for more details.

Pros

  • Cheap data plan.
  • Clear data policies.
  • Good amount of coverage.

Cons

  • Only allows AT&T.

Simple Mobile

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Simple Mobile 4G coverage map.

Simple Mobile is another carrier option for those looking to run the Nexus 4 on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 network. Simple Mobile offers two different data plans that users can choose from. One, a $40 unlimited plan with 3G speeds or another, a $50 data plan with unlimited and 4G speeds. Obviously, it’s worth stepping up to the 4G for those that can.

Like Straight Talk though, its data throttling policies are unclear and that could translate into some headaches for those that want to use fast speeds all of the time.

Pros

  • Affordable.
  • HSPA+ 42 support.

Cons

  • Unclear data throttling policy.

Solavei

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Solavei coverage map.

One last pre-paid carrier to consider is Solavei which will allow for unlocked Nexus 4 owners to use T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 network in conjunction with the Android 4.2 powered device.

Unlike the other options though, Solavei only offers one plan which is a competitive $49 per month unlimited plan with data throttling taking place after consuming 4GB of data on the phone.

Solavei also allows its users to earn money from recruiting friends to the service.

Pros

  • Affordable.
  • Clear data throttling policy.
  • Incentive to recruit friends.

Cons

  • Only allows T-Mobile.

10 Comments

  1. psychic99

    11/12/2012 at 6:43 pm

    Nice article. Your straighttalk map is the tmobile one. Need to go to straighttalksim.com for the correct maps. They used to have the coverage w/ AT&T vs Tmobile SIMs but it looks like they took them down. My bad The “android” map is closely the Tmobile HSPA map, the non-android is voice (GSM). When I go into the sticks I get EDGE (GSM) and voice always works. The problem with prepaid is that they don’t generally distinguish between data and voice coverage and there IS a difference between the AT&T and Tmobile SIMs on Straighttalk (I chose Tmobile) because I heard horror stories of ATT throttling users on a whim, and I generally don’t like at&t. But coverage does matter. Another note, Straighttalk doesn’t strictly follow the tmobile/att coverage–american movil (parent co) has contracts with dozens of network vendors and their coverage for voice is better than say att or tmobile prepaid (corporate). In areas where the “android” is not in zone, I get EDGE so I have yet to find a place (UNY) where I can’t get data. Obviously EDGE is slow, but is was just as fast as I was getting on Virgin Mobile (Sprint) in my area so I won’t touch any Sprint MVNO until they get their house in order.

  2. juan

    11/13/2012 at 7:27 am

    tmobile also has a plan for people that buy a unlocked phone at full price such as a nexus 4 for 350. the plan is unlimited data with no throttling, text and 500 minuets for 60 bucks a month which i think is the best deal.

  3. DG

    11/14/2012 at 5:24 pm

    The best deal for families are the Value plans from TMo, which aren’t reviewed here. Also need to mention the prepaid carriers do no offer roaming, while TMo and ATT plans do.

  4. mike

    11/15/2012 at 8:12 am

    Is there ever an option to go w/out a 3G/4G data plan? i.e. WiFi only plus voice.

    • Extacy

      11/20/2012 at 6:27 pm

      att has a $25.00 plan having 150 mins and unlimited text.. that you might be interesting

      • Extacy

        11/20/2012 at 6:27 pm

        typo mistake *250 mins

  5. silviu

    11/28/2012 at 12:16 pm

    hi.i am from Europe and i want to buy a Nexus 4 from Play Store from US.Can anyone please tell me if the US model will be compatible with the Europe Networks or this model will work only in the US?Please i really need an answer.thanks in advance

    • Paul

      12/05/2012 at 6:47 pm

      Hello. I read on Googles network that the unlocked Nexus 4 will work on more than 200 different networks. I am pretty sure that it will work in Europe

  6. Paul

    12/05/2012 at 6:44 pm

    I was browsing through the nexus 4 unlocked features on googles website. And on t mobiles. On tge unlocked version it says only 3G compatible. But Tmobiles locked version offers 4G. If I buy an unlocked phone will I be able to get 4G or will i be stuck with 3G?

  7. Xjac

    12/10/2012 at 2:57 pm

    How do you tell if a LG Nexus 4 is locked or unlocked? A user I support received one on his business trip and he wants to enable it with AT&T. I know the official carrier for this model is T-Mobile but read that an unlocked phone can use AT&T? Model on back of phone reads LG-E960. Thanks.

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