Verizon Wireless review: The best coverage, but you’ll pay more for it

Joe Supan

Oct 29, 2020 — 7 min read

Red and white Verizon logo on black background

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  • Verizon has the fastest, most reliable data coverage in the U.S.
  • Its 5G speeds are 10 times faster than AT&T and T-Mobile on average, but access is much more limited
  • Unlimited plans include subscriptions to Apple Music, Disney Plus, ESPN+ and Hulu

Verizon Wireless pricing

Verizon gives you more plans to choose from than the other carriers, but almost all of them are pricey in comparison. 

With more than 150 million customers in the U.S., Verizon is the nation’s largest wireless carrier. It offers more than 25 different wireless plans to choose from — nearly double most providers. Its four unlimited data plans are its most popular, and they start at $70/mo. for one line.

Like all cellphone plans, the price per line goes down the more lines you add to the mix. In Verizon’s case, you’ll save $5 to $15 on each line when you add a new one. There are also special discount plans for nurses, teachers, first responders, military personnel, people 55 years or older and customers who bundle service with a Verizon home internet plan. You’ll almost always end up paying more for Verizon, but you will get perks like hotspot data and free streaming services.

The average price for Verizon’s four unlimited plans is $63/mo., compared to $59 for AT&T and $51 for T-Mobile.

It’s certainly possible you’ll pay less with Verizon (especially through one of its discounts), but its prices are generally a bit higher.

Verizon promotions and new customer deals

Verizon offers Disney Plus and Apple Music with all of its unlimited plans, plus Hulu and ESPN+ on some plans.

Like all wireless companies, Verizon has a number of promotions and deals for new customers to entice you to switch. Spend a few minutes browsing its Deals page and you’ll come away with the impression you can get any phone you want for free. But when Verizon says “up to $700 off” the latest iPhone, what it really means is that you can get up to $550 trade-in value for your current phone plus a $150 Verizon gift card.

While no deals are as sweet as they seemed once you start combing the fine print, Verizon does actually offer a number of perks for new customers — all of them tied to the unlimited data plans.

One year of Disney Plus

New customers who sign up for one of Verizon’s unlimited wireless plans will get an entire year of Disney Plus on the house. After that, you’re automatically subscribed through your Verizon bill for $6.99/mo., so be sure to cancel before then if you don’t want to continue your subscription.

Six months of Apple Music

Verizon’s Play More and Get More unlimited plans both include Apple Music at no extra cost, while the Start and Do More unlimited plans get you free access for six months — a $9.99/mo. value on its own. If you want to cancel after your six months are up, you’ll have to do it through your Verizon Wireless account.

Hulu, Disney Plus and ESPN+ bundle

While all of Verizon’s unlimited data plans include Disney Plus, some also throw in Hulu and ESPN+ — a bundle that costs $13/mo. on its own. This bundle comes with both the $80/mo. Play More and $90/mo. Get More unlimited plans. You’ll have access to the streaming services at no extra cost for as long as you’re on the plan. 

Free Verizon streaming device

Verizon Stream TV is a 4K streaming device made by the wireless carrier. You can get one added to your order at no extra cost when you purchase a phone for $550 or higher and activate a new unlimited wireless line. Verizon Stream TV plugs into your TV’s HDMI port, and lets you watch streaming services like Netflix, Prime Video and Disney Plus. It also comes with Google Chromecast built-in, so you can stream videos and pictures straight from your phone to your TV. For comparison, similar 4K streaming devices like Amazon’s Fire TV Stick and Roku usually cost around $50.

Verizon network coverage and speed

With a larger coverage area and more reliable speeds, Verizon’s network is the clear #1 choice when it comes to performance.

By every metric available, Verizon covers more of the U.S. than any other wireless carrier, and it does it the best. Verizon’s 4G LTE network reaches around 97.4% of the country, compared to 97% for T-Mobile, 92.9% for AT&T, and 92.5% for Sprint, according to OpenSignal.

Verizon has also swept RootMetrics’ awards for reliability, speed, data performance and call performance every year since 2013. The one category in which Verizon’s not the clear winner? It’s shared first place with AT&T for text performance over the past few years. Verizon also got ranked highest in every region of J.D. Power’s wireless network study, reporting the fewest problems of any provider. 

There was one group who didn’t think quite so highly of Verizon: Consumer Reports members. The nonprofit rated Verizon’s data service and reception as merely “good.” It was still the second-best of the “big four” networks — T-Mobile received a “very good” score for its data service — but that was actually a pretty big drop from the other evaluators. 

Why is there such a difference between Consumer Reports’ results and everyone else’s? Consumer Reports is based entirely off their readers’ responses, while OpenSignal, RootMetrics and J.D. Power do their own testing and analysis. Both approaches are valuable, but it does leave room for some contradictions.

That said, the evidence overwhelmingly points to Verizon being the fastest and most reliable network around. If having access to the internet from anywhere in the country is important to you, Verizon is your best bet. 

How is Verizon’s 5G network?

Verizon was the first carrier to launch its 5G network in April 2019, but its availability is still fairly limited. You can currently access Verizon’s 5G network in 55 U.S. cities, but within those cities, coverage is still pretty hit or miss.

Verizon is the only carrier to rely on millimeter wave spectrum for most of its 5G network. It’s much faster, but you generally need to be within 1,000 feet of a tower to access it, and materials like cement and brick can block signals.

But so far, Verizon is the fastest by a mile. In OpenSignal’s testing, the average download speed on Verizon’s 5G network is 494.7 Mbps, compared to just 60.8 for AT&T and 49.2 for T-Mobile.

How does Verizon compare to other wireless carriers?

Verizon is generally the most expensive carrier, but you get what you pay for: Its wireless coverage ranks first in almost every nationwide test. 

Verizon’s unlimited data customers pay almost $15/mo. more every month per line than Sprint customers with similar plans. That can add up quickly, especially if you have a bigger family with several cellphone lines.  

But Verizon does provide extra value for that money. No matter where you are in the country, you’ll probably be in reach of its 4G LTE speeds, so you won’t ever have to worry about being without internet access. And with one of the most promising 5G plans of any carrier, it’s not a bad time to lock into Verizon. 

Depending on how you feel about Disney Plus, Verizon’s promotions might not be as enticing as other carriers’. You’ll pay close to the sticker price for most phones, and Verizon’s free devices for new customers are mostly limited to older models.  

Most people are reasonably happy with Verizon’s customer service. In 2020, Verizon received a 74/100 in the American Customer Satisfaction Index, a “fair” grade from Consumer Report’s 103,435 readers and an 817/1000 in J.D. Power’s survey of 12,974 customers who’ve called their wireless company in the past three months. Verizon doesn’t have the very best customer service — that distinction goes to T-Mobile — but it’s certainly passable for most people.

Verizon customer service

No one likes spending time trying to get hold of their phone company, but if you are ever in that unlucky situation, Verizon makes the experience relatively painless. You can reach someone through Verizon’s digital assistant or call its customer service line to speak with a representative on the phone, and Verizon is very responsive to customer service inquiries on its Facebook and Twitter pages. 

Should you switch to Verizon?

If you’re frustrated with dropped calls and spotty internet coverage, it’s absolutely worth spending a few extra dollars to make the jump to Verizon. And with a handful of attractive promotions and phone deals, you’ll probably get some sign-up bonuses that will make up for the price difference. 

But if you don’t find yourself using your phone’s data very much, or your coverage seems just fine in your area, you’re probably better off jumping to AT&T or T-Mobile. AT&T can get you a much cheaper phone upfront, while T-Mobile customers are the most satisfied with their service overall.

Verizon Wireless FAQs

How do Verizon upgrades work?

Verizon lets you upgrade to a new phone once you’ve paid off 50% of your current phone. Because Verizon’s device payment plans go 24 months, this means you can upgrade your phone after a year. However, the devices eligible under Verizon’s Annual Upgrade Program are fairly limited. Here’s what qualifies:

  • iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro
  • Samsung Galaxy S10 – 5G version only if purchased before 10/13/20
  • iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max if purchased before 10/15/20
  • iPhone® XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR if purchased before 9/12/19

Yes. Verizon will let you bring your current phone over as long as it’s compatible with its wireless network. (You can check Verizon’s “Bring Your Own Device” eligibility here.) In some cases, Verizon will even give you a $300 rebate for using your old phone and waive the activation fee.

Yes. You’ll need to pay a $40 activation fee when you buy a device from one of Verizon’s brick and mortar stores, but only $20 if you buy it online.

Unless you’re switching wireless carriers at the same time you’re moving out of the area, you should have no problem keeping your phone number when you switch to Verizon. FCC rules state that simple ports must be processed in one business day, so it’s usually a pretty quick turnaround. Just make sure not to cancel your service with your previous provider until the port is complete.

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Joe Supan

Written by:

Joe Supan

Senior Writer, Broadband Content

Joe oversees all things broadband for Allconnect. His work has been referenced by Yahoo!, Lifehacker and more. He has utilized thousands of data points to build a library of metrics to help users navigate these … Read more

Trey Paul

Edited by:

Trey Paul

Editor, Head of Content

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