Smartphones

Verizon has a new unlimited data plan–but is it too good to be true?

Here's what you need to know about Verizon Visible

Verizon has a new unlimited data plan - but is it too good to be true? Credit: Verizon Visible

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Update: Verizon reached out to clarify their current offers, so this article has been updated to reflect new information.


Between streaming music while I'm driving to work, watching old reruns of The Office on Netflix for the umpteenth time, and endlessly scrolling through Instagram, there are two things I care about when it comes to my phone: speed and data.

Specifically, I care about more speed and more data. And that's what Visible, a non-MVNO "phone service" that relies on—and is owned by—Verizon, is now offering in its first unlimited high-speed data plan. Not only does it cost just $40 a month but there are no annual contracts required and it's compatible with almost every major phone out there, including the iPhone, Google Pixel, and Samsung Galaxy. Plus, in November, Visible announced a new Party Pay plan, which allows groups of up to four people to join on the same plan for as low as $25 a month per person.

Sounds pretty good, right? Yes, but it sounds almost a little too good. We dove into the details—and ask our expert whether or not Visible is worth your money—below.

What does unlimited high-speed data really mean?

Visible
Credit: Visible

New phone service, who's this?

While Visible has offered unlimited data plans since it launched last year, it has always capped speeds at 5 Mbps (which, for reference, is about one-tenth the speed of Verizon's regular service which averages 59.4 Mbps).

Is there a catch?

Yes—because Visible may not be as fast as you think. "On Verizon's current unlimited plans, you get high-speed data until you use a certain amount of data per month. After that, your data can be de-prioritized and slowed down when the network is congested," our Exec Editor TJ Donegan explains. "With this cheaper plan, your data is pretty much always subject to being slowed down due to congestion. Speeds will depend on how aggressive Verizon is about prioritizing, but it's still allowing itself to do so when necessary."

Plus, if you're someone who loves watching YouTube (or in my case, Netflix) on your phone, there's more bad news. Visible revealed that videos will still "typically" be limited to 480p—aka standard definition—though this is common for many unlimited data plans.

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How does it work with a group?

Visible Party Pay
Credit: Verizon Visible

Verizon Visible's Party Pay plan allows friends to join the same phone plan.

You can sign up for a single line on Verizon Visible for $40 a month, which gives you unlimited data, messages, and minutes. But if you want to share with friends or family, you can sign up for the Party Pay plan and share all the perks (even unlimited data) among your group. Unlike other shared phone plans, Visible allows each member to have their own line, meaning individual members are responsible for paying their own bills each month—essentially, everyone gets their own individual line, but by joining the same party, you save a few bucks each month.

If you've got multiple people paying the phone bill each month, such as groups of friends or roommates, the Party Pay may be a good group option. But as we know all too well from years of participating in group projects, we recommend only signing up for plans with friends who you can personally vouch for—don't get stuck on a plan with someone who won't pay the bill on time and risk messing with the group rate.

What devices can you use Visible with?

Visible currently sells both iPhones and Androids, including the Samsung Galaxy S8 and iPhone 11.

Are there any other perks to using Visible?

Yes! The service is currently running a promotion with Mastercard. If you bring in your own device or purchase one from Visible for under $400, you'll get $100 back—and if you buy a device that costs over $400 with Visible, you'll get $200 back (this applies to the iPhone 11, too, if you agree to stay with Visible for at least two months).

Plus, if you already use the Visible service and refer a friend to sign up, you get $20 off your bill. And if you're an entirely new customer, you can get $20 off your first bill by using the code "tFdlp" at checkout.

So is it worth purchasing?

Texting
Credit: Damirkunic/Getty Images

Visible has its perks—but it's not for everyone.

For some people, yes, Donegan says. "I think this could be worth it for people on a single line that want a simpler, more affordable way to access Verizon's network without worrying about data caps."

He adds that, "This change definitely makes Visible a more attractive alternative, especially if you just pay for one line. Single-line plans are outrageously expensive otherwise, and without a speed cap this is a great deal—even if the truth is a little more complicated."

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