Thursday, March 16, 2017

Cricket Wireless: 10 Things to Know Before You Sign Up

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Cricket Wireless is a popular prepaid carrier that offers a wide selection of nearly free phones and high-end devices like the Cricket Wireless Galaxy S7 and even the Cricket Wireless iPhone 7 on plans that start at $35 a month for smartphones. Before you sign up for Cricket Wireless and spend money on a new phone there are some things you need to know about the service.

We’ll walk you through what Cricket Wireless plans offer, what you need to know about Cricket Wireless phones and other details that customers need to consider when choosing a new carrier. One major change over the last year or so is that you can easily get an iPhone on Cricket Wireless.

In the last year, Cricket Mobile gained more exposure thanks to widespread commercials touting the $35 a month plan option that includes taxes and other fees in the base amount, taking the guess-work out of knowing how much you will pay each month.

There are no contracts with Cricket Wireless and the payments are month to month. Users can set up auto payments so there is no need to constantly buy refill cards or make a payment.

Here are 10 things that buyers need to know before switching to Cricket Wireless.

What Phones are on Cricket?

The Cricket Wireless phones include a wide selection of smartphones from affordable and nearly free to the latest and greatest like the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the iPhone 7.

Cricket Wireless phones include Windows Phone, Android and iPhone. You may need to wait for the iPhone 8 or Galaxy S8 to arrive on Cricket Wireless.

The Cricket Wireless phones include many good options, but also bad choices.

The Cricket Wireless phones include many good options, but also bad choices.

Keep in mind that you get what you pay for, so some of the cheap phones will not come close to matching the experience of newer devices. Many of the cheapest Cricket Mobile phones are 4G only, which means slower speeds than those with 4G LTE. Keep this in mind if you plan to watch a lot of video or upload and download large files.

The best Cricket Wireless smartphones on sale now are;

  • iPhone 7

  • iPhone 7 Plus

  • Samsung Galaxy S7

  • Samsung Galaxy S6

  • Moto E

There are many other options that may perform well, but these devices are proven winners, even the older ones listed above.

Can I Use My Own Phone on Cricket Wireless?

Cricket Wireless lets users bring their own phone to use on the service, but you cannot just bring any phone.

Bring your own phone to Cricket Wireless if it is unlocked and runs on a GSM network.

Bring your own phone to Cricket Wireless if it is unlocked and runs on a GSM network.

For this to work, you need an unlocked smartphone. If you are on AT&T you are using a GSM smartphone and you can ask AT&T to unlock your phone after you meet contract stipulations. T-Mobile also uses GSM networks. You can bring some Sprint and Verizon Wireless smartphones to Cricket including the most iPhones and Nexus devices.

You can enter your phone’s IMEI number into the tool on this page to see if it will work with the Cricket Wireless network. If it does you need to buy a Cricket Wireless SIM card and plan. A SIM card is $9.99.

Cricket Wireless Plans

New Cricket Wireless plans start at $30 a month.

New Cricket Wireless plans start at $30 a month.

The most recognized Cricket Wireless plan is the Basic Smartphone plan that the company features in commercials for $35 with taxes and fees included. The plan is actually $40 a month, but if you sign up for auto-pay there is a $5 discount on each of these plans. Cricket Wireless plans include a Smart and even an unlimited option.

  • 1GB – 1GB 4G LTE, Unlimited talk and text – $40

  • Basic – 3GB 4G LTE, Unlimited talk and text – $40

  • Smart – 8GB 4G LTE, Unlimited talk and text, PLUS  – $50

  • Unlimited – Unlimited 4G LTE, Unlimited talk and text, PLUS – $60

With the Unlimited option if you use more than 22GB of data in a billing period your speeds may be slowed.

The Smart and Unlimited Cricket Wireless plans include unlimited talk and messaging to Mexico and Canada and Unlimited International texting. You can even use your phone in Canada and Mexico without outrageous fees. This excludes the Northwest Territories of Canada.

Cricket Wireless Coverage Map

The Cricket Wireless coverage map shows a lot of coverage inside the U.S., including parts of Alaska and Hawaii. You can check your Cricket Wireless coverage using their online tool, but in general, the coverage matches AT&T.

The Cricket Wireless coverage map matches AT&T.

The Cricket Wireless coverage map matches AT&T.

In early 2015 AT&T bought Cricket Wireless to turn the service into a premium pre-paid brand for the company. With this information we know that Cricket Wireless coverage matches AT&T, as they run on the same towers.

Cricket Wireless Speed Test

In the video above you can see a Cricket Wireless speed test with a comparison between Cricket Wireless and Straight Talk. When you are on the Cricket Wireless 4G LTE network, you can enjoy decent speeds, but some users report that even with 4G LTE smartphones the speeds are not as good as on AT&T in some areas. The speed and quality of a network can vary dramatically from block to block and building to building.

Cricket Wireless caps the speed at 8Mbps so you will not likely see any higher speeds, at least not on a consistent basis.

Cricket Wireless Stream More Plan

Starting in April 2017 Cricket Wireless offers a Stream More plan that allows you to watch videos in 480P, a lower quality, which uses less data. This will allow you to watch more without using as much data. Cricket Wireless will start turning this on for users in April by default.

You can log in to your account to turn it off if you want to watch in a higher resolution or you don’t need the feature.

Cricket Wireless Tethering and Hotspot

There is a Cricket Wireless tethering or Cricket Wireless mobile hotspot feature that you can add to the two most expensive plans.

A mobile hotspot allows users to share data from the smartphone to a laptop or a tablet. You must pay $10 more a month to access this and it uses your current data that is already in your plan.

The current Cricket Wireless terms outline using apps, adapters or other means to add a Cricket Wireless hotspot option to your phone without paying as misuse and abuse.

Cricket Wireless Software Updates

When you buy a phone on Cricket Wireless, keep in mind that this may impact how fast you get new features.

Cricket Wireless software updates are slower on Android.

Cricket Wireless software updates are slower on Android.

Apple delivers iPhone updates to all eligible iPhones at the same time, so the Cricket Wireless iPhone will get iOS updates at the same time as devices on Verizon and AT&T.

Android phones will get new software updates later than on a major carrier. Although the Samsung Galaxy S7 Nougat update is out on many carriers there is no Cricket Wireless Galaxy S7 Nougat update yet.

Cricket Wireless Family Plans

If you need more than one phone line on Cricket Wireless you can use their Group Save option to save up to $100 a month with five eligible lines.

Save with a Cricket Wireless family plan option called Group Save.

Save with a Cricket Wireless family plan option called Group Save.

When you add a second line get a $10 a month discount. The third line gets a $20 discount, fourth line a $30 discount and fifth line a $40 discount. These discounts are monthly so you can save on every bill.

This only works on the Basic, Smart and Unlimited plans, not on the basic $25 a month plan or discontinued and grandfathered plans. You cannot get the auto-pay discount with Cricket family plans and data is not shared between phones.

Cricket Wireless Throttling

If you use Cricket Wireless data too much, you can see a reduction in your speeds. If you go over the high-speed allowance that you pay for each month, the data speeds will slow for the rest of the month.

Cricket states, “When your data use exceeds the respective high-speed access allowance, your data download speeds will be reduced to a maximum 128Kbps for the remainder of your monthly billing cycle.”

This throttling is not in place for the high-speed data you pay for, and some users will find it nice to still have slower access when they go over the amount they pay for, instead of being cut off completely.

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