Find and compare the best cell phone plans in Oakland, CA at Wirefly. Which cell phone carrier has the best coverage in your area? Click the carrier logos below to launch their coverage maps. Then, use our tool below to compare the price and features of each carrier’s plans. Smaller carriers and MVNOs typically run on the networks of one of the big four carriers you see below.
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Although Oakland, CA residents had relatively few choices at one time, various carriers now offer a tremendous variety of cell phone plans. It has become relatively easy to find affordable services with desirable features. Nonetheless, it's important for people to think about what they actually need and the amounts they can afford to pay. Some plans might look appealing at first, but a little research may reveal equivalent options that cost considerably less.
Cell phone subscribers often end up using the same providers for many months or years. It's worth making an effort to carefully compare a wide range of plans before selecting a company. This can take a long time when people manually check the rates of different services. Wirefly makes this process faster and easier. It automatically compares various plans and helps users identify the most desirable options.
Coverage is still king: a few things to keep in mind
Coverage has gotten dramatically better for all carriers in the last few years, especially for Sprint and T-Mobile. While the country's two smallest carriers often had their coverage compared to Swiss cheese in the early 2000s, their LTE networks today are fully modernized, dense, and ready to perform well even during times of peak demand. With that said, it's a good idea to take a look at independent test results that show the strengths of each network. These tests, performed by RootMetrics, will help clarify which carrier is best for clear calls, fast data, or consistent texting.
Best for Calls: For the third time in two years, RootMetrics testing found that all four major carriers are almost the same in Oakland, CA when it comes to 'call performance.' This indicates that all four carriers have crystal clear calls, and that all four carriers rarely drop a call that has been initiated. That's great news if your main area of usage each month is wireless minutes.
Best for Texting: During the second half of 2016, RootMetrics testing found that AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile were tied for first place in overall texting performance. All three carriers had a near-100-percent success rate in sending and delivering texts. Sprint's texting performance was just a bit shy of making this metric a four-way tie.
Best for Data-Heavy Usage: This category is a bit more nuanced than the others. Overall, Verizon's LTE network delivered both the fastest speeds and the most reliable connections to customers in Oakland, CA. T-Mobile's average data speed increased dramatically in 2016, however, and AT&T showed improvement in average speeds as well.
Breadth of Coverage: All four carriers have an extremely broad network in Oakland, CA, with coverage almost everywhere. Sprint, which is still expanding its LTE network, has slightly less high-speed coverage. Even so, it has the high-density city and suburban areas covered very well.
Different cell phone plans
Typical cell phone users in Oakland, CA look for a plan that will allow them the basics- to send and receive text messages, make calls and use their data when needed. A wireless service depends on factors such as minutes offered, text message limits, and data limits.
Depending on how much you plan to use your cell phone, choose a plan that you are certain will meet your needs. We allow you to search different carriers and their plan types with our service and you will see the savings you could get by choosing that particular plan. You'll choose from three categories for wireless plans.
These plans are: individual plans, family plans, and no contract plans.
Individual plans, or single line plans, only include one line per plan. The line includes talk, text and data usage and will not include any other device or phone. When you don't have children or a spouse, a single line may be the best cell phone plan for your needs.
A family plan is the best choice when you have multiple phone users in your family, as it mixes up plan offers and devices. If you are in need of two or more lines, this plan is probably the best choice, even though it will cost a bit more. Everyone who has a phone in these plans will share minutes, data and text messages, so it is important to choose a plan that will cover the needs of absolutely everyone in your family.
A prepaid, or pay-as-you-go, month-to-month cell phone plan is also known as a no contract plan. These are generally flexible by way of pricing and payments. Pay-as-you-go phones offer way more options nowadays than when they first came out for sale. Most Oakland, CA department stores offer prepaid phones that you can purchase and start using right away. Simply pay for the features you want. However, you may be required to pay additional fees and the price of the actual phone may be higher, unless you pick a very cheap model. Many pay-as-you-go companies now offer the latest smartphones as well, and you will never be bound to a contract with this type.
When you choose a carrier that offers contract plans, you are typically being asked to sign up for a minimum of one year, but more than likely you'll be bound by contract for two years. This is a good choice if you want the newest smartphone but can't afford to pay for it upfront, as you can pay in monthly installments as part of your actual phone bill. When you wish to cancel, you either have to wait until the contract is up or pay an early termination fee, which could be hundreds of dollars, depending on the amount of months that you have left.
The best wireless plan
Consider all the different features that are important when you are looking for the right plan. There are three factors to keep in mind when choosing the best one for you or your family in Oakland, CA: minutes, text messages, and data.
Cheaper cell phone plans often allow you to set a limit on the number of minutes you can talk and the number of text messages you can send. This is good for someone who doesn't use their phone a lot. But if you do, you'll want to look for a plan with unlimited talk and text. Luckily, most cell phone carriers offer this as a basic option, so you won't be paying much more for it when you choose it. With a contract plan, you'll use a wireless card to load minutes onto your phone for talking and texting. When you need more minutes, you simply purchase more. No contract phones cannot charge you for overages, as you simply cannot cause them.
If you plan to use a good deal of data in Oakland, CA, be sure to look for a plan that offers you higher gigabyte plans. Cheaper plans come with two to five gigabytes for the month, which may be all you need if you can always connect to Wi-Fi. Higher plans offer anywhere from ten to 20 gigabytes per month and are great for consumers who may be using their device in places without Wi-Fi to connect to. You'll also want to check if the company will charge you for overages, as many will charge for every gigabyte you go over per month, which can really make your bill skyrocket if you aren't careful.
Texts, minutes, and data: which option is best for you?
Now that you know which type of plan you'll be shopping for, it's time to make another important consideration: What do you need each month in terms of voice minutes, texts and data? While this used to be a pretty complex decision to make, especially for family plan members who were splitting each of these three things, that's no longer the case due to shifts in the industry. Current wireless industry plans have almost all dropped limits on voice minutes and texts. Postpaid family plans and individual plans at Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon, all include unlimited talking and texting. Only a select number of no-commitment prepaid plans still enforce limits on these use cases.
The good news is that you can focus only on the amount of data that you need on a monthly basis. Two carriers make this decision easy, while two others will require a bit of careful consideration before selecting a plan. Here's what to know when selecting a cell phone plan in Oakland, CA:
The Un-Carrier, as it's known, recently made a bold push toward unlimited data for all. The company replaced its Simple Choice plan lineup with T-Mobile ONE, an all-unlimited, single plan that it offers to individuals and families alike. The company's Simple Choice plans, which feature 2GB, 6GB, or 10GB of data, are still available for customers who prefer them, however. These plans feature 12-month data rollover and no overages, so there's no extra cost added to the bill based on usage.
Like T-Mobile, Sprint recently unveiled a flat-rate, all-unlimited mobile plan for new and existing subscribers. Customers who prefer not to get an unlimited plan can opt for a 'shared' amount of data that can be used by all lines attached to the account. By default, data speeds on limited plans slow down after all data has been used. Customers can buy a high-speed pass if they wish to have more full-speed data until the end of the month, however.
AT&T offers unlimited data only to customers who also have its DirecTV satellite television service or U-Verse IPTV service. Otherwise, customers will be sharing data buckets with every line on their account. In 2016, AT&T introduced a no-overages policy that slows data to 2G speeds when a data bucket is exhausted. The company also has its 'Stream Saver' service in 2016, which reduces the quality of all streaming video and uses data more slowly as a result.
Verizon eliminated overages early in 2016 and, later in the year, introduced rollover data for its shared data buckets. The company's plans mirror AT&T's, though an unlimited data option is not available to new customers at all.
Smaller prepaid carriers, called MVNOs, typically use one of the four above networks and resell services to no-commitment customers. These plans cover Oakland, CA and change very frequently, but they do often represent a significant savings each month.
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