I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client.
Enter Walmart Family Mobile. Through my relationship with Collective Bias, I’ve had the opportunity to review Walmart Family Mobile, which offers a low price, no contract, unlimited mobile plan. Sounds like everything I’m looking for! To review the service, I was provided a Samsung Galaxy S III phone to use.
A quick note about the phone: the Galaxy S III is a solid phone with great performance and some cool features. The phone is fast, the screen is big and bright, and the camera works extraordinarily well. Because the Galaxy S 4 is now on the market, you can also find some good deals on the Galaxy S III. It may be “last year’s model,” but it is still very much a worthwhile phone. Now, on to the service.
This is my first experience with Walmart Family Mobile — or any mobile service other than AT&T, really. I’ve been happy with AT&T’s service, but with all of the options now in the market, I’m questioning the value. That, and the need to get mobile phones for my daughters, who will be going to school across town this year, prompted me to begin my search.
Getting started with Walmart Family Mobile is easy. You can buy a phone, or you can use an unlocked GSM phone. Walmart Family Mobile uses the T-Mobile network, so phones from that carrier work. GSM phones use SIM cards, so if your existing phone has a SIM card and can be unlocked, it most likely can work with the service.
Once you’ve got the phone question answered, you need a Walmart Family Mobile SIM. You can pick these up at any Walmart. The $25 Activation Pack includes a SIM that fits both standard phones and micro SIM phones. With SIM and phone in hand, head to the Walmart Family Mobile online account management and information website, type in your SIM serial number and your phone’s IMEI number (usually found under the battery or on a settings screen if your phone does not have a removable back), select your plan options, and you’re good to go.
Selecting a plan is simple, too, since Walmart Family Mobile has just one plan: $29.88/month for unlimited talk and text. If you want unlimited data, that’s a $10/month add-on. If you’re setting up multiple phones on one account, you get a $5/month discount on each additional line. All in all, not a bad deal!
The setup process highlights some of my favorite elements of using Walmart Family Mobile.
- The phone is yours. You’re not paying for your phone through a higher-priced plan that locks you to your carrier for years. You can buy a phone from Walmart or eBay or use one you’ve already got. The choice is yours.
- There is no contract. If I decide I don’t like or no longer need the service, I can walk away anytime I want with no penalty. This is especially appealing to me since I’m looking to sign up service for a couple of my teens, and who knows what changes I may need to make for them in the months ahead. Someday they’ll be financially independent, too, and will need to switch to their own service. No contracts makes all of this easier.
- Unlimited service. Forget watching your text message or minutes or data plan. I don’t have to worry about the kids going over. I don’t have to worry about anyone “going over” on anything. The service is unlimited, so my bill stays the same month to month. Coming from service levels that were metered in all categories, this is not only a welcome change but a money-saving one as well.
So the plans are good and the setup is easy. How about the service? As I mentioned earlier, Walmart Family Mobile uses the T-Mobile network, which does provide nation-wide coverage. I’ve found the coverage for calls and txt messages to be pretty solid. I live near Rochester, NY, and the network is solid in the metro area, as would be expected. When I head out to the small towns that surround the area, I still have coverage for calls. Data coverage is where the real difference between Walmart Family Mobile and my current AT&T service begins to show. While I have a solid 4G signal at my home in the Rochester suburbs using AT&T, on Walmart Family Mobile the data is solid if I’m outside or in certain parts of my home, but gets slower or disappears in other parts of the house. As I travel to other locations that are further from the urban hub, I find a similar experience — slow data coverage or no data coverage at all, even while I still have signal for phone calls. In fact, as I write this, I’m on an Amtrak train somewhere between Rochester and Syracuse in upstate New York. I haven’t had data coverage on the Walmart Family Mobile phone since leaving Rochester, but my AT&T phone has been solid with 4G all the way. I haven’t lost txt and voice coverage, mind you, but data coverage is not there.
What does this mean for me? Well, since I live the vast majority of my life not only near urban centers but also in the presence of wi-fi networks, the lack of rural data coverage is not really an issue for me, nor would it be for anyone else in my home. On those occasions where we are in a rural area, the more critical need is for voice and txt coverage, and that still holds up with the Walmart Family Mobile/T-Mobile network. Considering the price difference, the savings I can get with Walmart Family Mobile more than make up for the lack of rural data coverage. To put it another way, the premium I am paying right now for AT&T’s rural data coverage — coverage I rarely use — is an expense I simply no longer need to pay.
What the savings will mean for our family: For less than what we are paying today for three phones with limited service, we will be able to have four phones with unlimited service. That’s real value and real savings. It’s money in the bank.
As an aside, I’ve been using the Walmart Family Mobile service long enough that I just received my first monthly bill. I cannot express enough how refreshing it is to see a mobile bill so low, especially knowing that it represents a fixed amount and unlimited coverage. I could get use to this!
Ben Martin is the CEO of THE FATHER LIFE. He lives with his wife and five children in the Rochester, NY, area.