The Nexus 5 is an affordable flagship smartphone that outshines most $300 and $400 smartphones on the market, and it works on a wide variety of networks including pre-paid plans as low as $30 a month and no contract LTE connectivity.
There is no Verizon Nexus 5 support, but it will run on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and various pre-paid carriers that run on these networks. This means users can save significantly over using an official carrier, and thanks to the low off contract price the Nexus 5 is a bargain.
Competing smartphones like the iPhone 5s, Galaxy S4, Moto X and Galaxy Note 3 routinely sell for $199 to $299 on a two-year contract, the actual price of the handset ranges from $500 to $700 if you buy it without a contract like the Nexus 5.
For all of these options you can buy the Nexus 5 on Google Play, and so you can avoid buying it in a store where the price may jump.
Nexus 5 Carrier Comparison
When it comes to the Nexus 5, users can purchase it for $349 or $399 depending on the storage capacity needed. Here are the Nexus 5 carrier options that most users will want to compare. There may be other carriers available, but these are the carriers that the Gotta Be Mobile team uses on review devices and can vouch for their service.
Users who live in an area with good T-Mobile coverage and that is already a part of T-Mobile’s small 4G LTE network can use the Nexus 5 on a regular T-Mobile account.
T-Mobile’s Bring Your Own Device plans start at $50 a month with 500MB of high-speed data. Most users will need to upgrade to the $60 a month plan to lock in at least 2.5GB of high-speed data. The plans include unlimited slower speed data.
These T-Mobile plans offer access to an optional Mobile Hotspot that allows users to connect other devices to T-Mobile’s network. The price for this starts at $20 a month for 500MB.
There is no contract needed for this plan, but it is not the best option for T-Mobile users who are coming to the service.
T-Mobile $30 Unlimited Plan
The best deal for a Nexus 5 carrier is to get a T-Mobile SIM card from Walmart or T-Mobile.com through the $30 per month plan with unlimited web and text, but just 100 minutes of calls.
If you don’t talk a lot, and don’t need 4G LTE (or don’t live in a T-Mobile 4G LTE area) this plan is available for new lines activated on T-Mobile or purchased at Walmart. Purchase a T-Mobile SIM card for $10 on T-Mobile and when it arrives activate it as part of this plan.
You may need to call in and wait a day for T-Mobile to turn this service on as our experience is T-Mobile adds hoops to jump through and phone support may try to talk you into getting a different plan.
When you are done you’ll get 5GB of 4G data, anything after is slower. Some users report adding a hotspot for $50, and others may choose to use an Android utility that makes a hotspot look like normal data usage.
If you have an existing AT&T plan you can pop the SIM card out of your current phone and put it in the Nexus 5 to get going.
For users who need new service, AT&T lists a free AT&T SIM card for 4G LTE Android phones on their website. You will need to enter the IMEI number from your Nexus 5 to link it to your account. You can still swap this SIM card between devices, but this is part of AT&T’s setup.
Users will need to get a Mobile Share plan from AT&T which starts at $70 a month for 300MB of data. Users with only one device should consider a prepaid service that users AT&T towers. Mobile Share plans make more sense if you want to connect a tablet and other smartphones to the same plane.
Straight Talk is a popular option for smartphone owners looking to save cash, and the service now supports AT&T 4G LTE networks at just $45 a month.
If AT&T offers 4G or 4G LTE connectivity where you live, you can buy an AT&T SIM card and connect with what Straight Talk calls unlimited data for just $45 a month, significantly less than an AT&T Mobile Share Plan.
Read: Straight Talk Review
An AT&T 4G LTE Micro SIM card is just $7 and service is $45 a month. The service is unlimited, but only the first 2.5GB is offered at full speeds. If you use a lot of data this may not be the plan for you, but if you are on WiFi often this is a good deal.
There is no official hotspot support, so users will need to do without. Some users may find apps that allow them to hide their hotspot use as regular data, but Straight Talk is known for detecting high data users and locking them down.
Red Pocket Mobile
Red Pocket Mobile is another pre-paid carrier for the Nexus 5. Users can buy a SIM card for $9.99 and plans start as low as $30 a month for 100MB of data, but most users will want to go for the $60 a month 3GB plan.
Read: Red Pocket Mobile Review
Red Pocket Mobile also uses AT&T Towers, but does not currently support LTE speeds. This plan is more expensive than Straight Talk, but may be a better option for users who want to talk and call internationally.
Red Pocket Mobile also offers additional 1GB data additions for $19.99, which lasts for 30 days or until used up.
Sprint also supports the Nexus 5 on normal Sprint plans. After some initial issues getting the Nexus 5 up and running users can now activate the Nexus 5 on Sprint.
Sprint is an option, but with fledgling LTE coverage and a slow 3G network it is not the most attractive Nexus 5 carrier around.
Sprint offers a My All-In plan that is $110 a month with unlimited talk, text and data plus a 5GB hotspot. There is also an Unlimited, My Way plan which is $50 for the first phone and then a fee for data.