You may have seen the commercials from AT&T promoting their new family plans known as the Mobile Share Value Plan. I guess you can say it’s in response to T-Mobile as well as the crazy Framily plan from Sprint among others. We’ve taken an in-depth look at their new plans for families including everything from your options on phones to pricing, data, comparisons, and if the new plans are a good deal. Just like any other wireless plan there are many pros and cons that comes along with this family plan that we’ve detailed in the review below.
How Does The Mobile Share Family Plan Work?
The new mobile share plan essentially groups together all of your data for the entire family. According to AT&T the ideal amount for a family is 10GB’s per month for a family of up to five. Along with the grouped data you will get the now standard unlimited talk and text messaging. This means the only thing you have to worry about running out is the data. You are charged a set amount which, we will detail later, along with another charge for each phone or device that’s added to share the pool of data.
What Phones Are Available?
If you’re signing up for the regular family plan where you share the data then you will have access to any phone they sell. This includes everything from a basic Android phone that you can usually get for free or very cheap up to the latest iPhone or premium Android phones. You will receive the discounted phone as part of your new 2-year contract agreement for each line just as if you were signing up for an individual plan.
They do give you the option to bring your own devices or pay for the devices in full upfront. If you do this then make sure you specify when signing up as this will give you the option to not have to sign a 2-year agreement. You instead can cancel your plan at any time as it’s essentially a prepaid family plan. Most customers will opt for the subsidized phone so make sure you know that if you’re not bringing your own phone you will not be able to cancel without a termination fee for the length of the contract.
How Much Monthly Data Does My Family Need?
Figuring out how much data your family needs comes down to how they use their devices and when they use those devices. Remember that if you have Wifi then streaming Netflix on your iPad while connected in your home isn’t going to count on this data. The data only counts when you are not on WiFi such as using your phone to check emails or play a mobile game that takes up data. Every family or group is different so many times a family will use much less than the 10GB’s offered as the norm in their advertisements. AT&T does have a tool on their family plans page that will help you figure out an estimate on how much data your family consumes each month. It’s always better to have a little more data than you use because the fees for going over can be outrageous.
AT&T Next vs. 2-Year Agreement Price Difference
One confusing aspect of the plans that I found is that the heavily advertised pricing is for plans that us AT&T Next plans. AT&T Next plans require that you purchase the phone at full price (can pay monthly installments with credit approval) or bring your own device. This means that if you want to sign up for a two-year agreement to lower the price out of the phones your price will be different. This is one major thing to think about when signing up for this plan as the price can easily go up an extra $100 per month for a family of four who all want brand new phones.
AT&T Family Plan Pricing
Pricing is always one of the most important factors in figuring out which wireless plan to choose. In the past AT&T’s family plans had complex pricing that was nearly impossible to understand and was also pretty expensive when compared to the competition. The new pricing that is part of the Mobile Share Value Plan is much simpler with a better price for most families. Every plan comes with 10GB of shared data for the family along with unlimited talk and text. We broke down the pricing per line even further below so you’ll know what you’re getting as you add lines to your plan. These numbers are for the AT&T Next plans as advertised and do not include the phone costs for 2-year agreements.
2 lines for $130 / month
3 lines for $145 / month
4 lines for $160 / month
5 lines for $175 / month
If you need more than 10GB they do have various options available of data up to 50GB’s per month. If you need less than 10GB’s in shared data then you can chose one of those plans that are slightly cheaper in data costs. Be aware that there is an extra charge per phone ($20 per line vs. $15 per line for over 10GB’s shared data) for data sharing of under 6GB which will probably wipe out any savings for going under that. So in my opinion I wouldn’t go under 6GB’s of shared data monthly as you end up paying more per phone as well as could get hit with overages if you have a few heavy users.
AT&T’s Explanation of the new Family Mobile Share Value Plan
AT&T Family Plan vs. Sprint Framily Plan vs. Verizon Family Plan vs. T-Mobile Family Plan
When you compare the AT&T family plan with the family plans from the other three major wireless carriers it stacks up pretty well. Pooling the data and sharing it among multiple people and devices has become the norm with family plans. So when comparing the plans we got as close as we could to family plans with four smartphone devices/users and 10 GB’s of data.
Pricing Comparison of Family Plans with Data:
AT&T Family Plan – $160/month w/ AT&T Next or $260/month w/ 2-yr agreement
Verizon Family Plan – $260/month
Sprint Family Plan – $190/month
T-Mobile Family Plan – $130/month + varying fees per phone
These plans of course exclude any phone purchase costs as well as taxes and any other local fees. So as you can see, the AT&T plan does hold its own against competitors. In the past in our reviews of wireless plans, AT&T usually came in last or nearly last in pricing so we’re glad to see things are changing for the positive.
AT&T Family Plan Deal: Get up to a $100 bill credit for each new line opened for a limited time. Find more information on the deal through this link to their website.
In choosing the right plan you need to also look slightly beyond price to figure out who has the best coverage in your area. This means that even though their may be a discount carrier in your area who can beat the price it doesn’t exactly help if their data is so slow that it can’t stream a movie or takes two minutes to load a website. So check the coverage map and ask friends how their coverage is in your area if they have AT&T.
Overall the AT&T mobile share family plan is a step in the right direction to knock down the ridiculous price of family plans that use data. If you’re bringing your own phones to the deal then this is a no-brainer as most families will be able to save some money and get a good chunk of data to share. If you’re looking to all get new phones then the plan really isn’t anything too special. The prices from all the major carriers are pretty much the same with a few exceptions. So a lot of it comes down to other factors such as coverage in your area and if you’re a family that likes to switch phones often. Aside from what I think are some gimmicks on pricing, the plans are still recommended as no one else seems to be standing out enough on price to win us over.
* This page will be updated as certain aspects of the AT&T Family Plan changes. This can be changes in pricing to the entire plan itself. Ask questions and leave comments below.