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Thread: iPhone XS as data hotspot in the US

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    iPhone XS as data hotspot in the US

    I'll be travelling for a little over 3 weeks in the US and have an iPhone XS with my home country's SIM in it.

    What is the cheapest option to get as much data as possible (i.e. more than 20GB) on a US domestic carrier using eSIM? T-mobile asked for $85 for 22GB which I found preposterous, but maybe I'm just not up to speed with US mobile data pricing

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    1) Data pricing is weird here. Many plans offer "unlimited" data, but tend to be postpaid or throttle after a certain point. Data block plans can be cheaper, but those tend to be on providers that have their data priority lowered during times of congestion and they don't offer lots of data (usually 16GB max). In general, the US has one of the highest per unit data costs in the world.

    2) Most prepaid/MVNOs here don't offer eSIM currently. This will be your biggest hurdle unless you can get your home provider to switch your service to the eSIM.



    Truphone does eSIM, but they are not cheap for data pricing.

    Wing Alpha can do eSIM (requires buying an AT&T eSIM activation card at an Apple Store or an AT&T store for ~$5 and contacting them to activate) and has "unlimited" data for $55/month. To my understanding they only do payments online, which may require a US-based payment card (but you can find prepaid debit cards, so that shouldn't be a major issue).

    Straight Talk has an "unlmited" plan for $45/month (plus taxes based on activation zip code) that includes Hotspot. They throttle after 25GB. Physical SIM only. You can pick up a BOYP kit in most Walmarts and a few other retailers.

    US Mobile has unlimited data on either T-Mobile or Verizon for $40 ($50 if you want hotspot as well). They state they start data limiting after 50GB. Physical SIM only.

    For more suggestions, you should probably post on the General Prepaid forum.

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    Thanks Haas_Dave, very helpful and much appreciated!

    Here it says these are my only eSIM options:
    AT&T
    T-Mobile USA
    Truphone
    Ubigi
    Verizon Wireless

    Also found a T-Mobile app which, allegedly, would allow me to buy an eSIM and "Download, select a prepaid cellular plan, and go". Any idea what this "Un-Carrier" plan is? This seems to suggest I'd pay 50 bucks and would be all set

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    Quote Originally Posted by kirifella View Post
    I'll be travelling for a little over 3 weeks in the US and have an iPhone XS with my home country's SIM in it.

    What is the cheapest option to get as much data as possible (i.e. more than 20GB) on a US domestic carrier using eSIM? T-mobile asked for $85 for 22GB which I found preposterous, but maybe I'm just not up to speed with US mobile data pricing
    Where do you plan to spend your time? The different carriers have differences about where they are good or not.

    If in areas covered well by T-Mobile, that APP you mentioned looks useful. But you only get 2GB of 4G/LTE speeds. The rest is 3G speeds, which I don't see what that is.
    iPhone 11 is my current primary phone. I have older model iPhones and Moto phones available on other lines. Currently prepaid, though would consider postpaid on right plan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kevink1 View Post
    Where do you plan to spend your time? The different carriers have differences about where they are good or not.
    Main metro cities, so coverage appears to be good on all national carriers

    Quote Originally Posted by kevink1 View Post
    If in areas covered well by T-Mobile, that APP you mentioned looks useful. But you only get 2GB of 4G/LTE speeds. The rest is 3G speeds, which I don't see what that is.
    Where did you read that? I can't find any reference to this 2GB limit on their T&C, albeit it does say tethering is on 3G only


    Here it is stated that you "Get Unlimited Talk, Text & 4G LTE data on your smartphone virtually everywhere in the U.S., with no data overages or annual contracts."
    Then if you click on "see more" it says "Perfect for using your phone virtually anywhere in the U.S. The Simply Prepaid Unlimited plan gives you everything you need UNLIMITED! It includes unlimited Voice Calls, Text & 4G LTE Data on your smartphone on our network, all at no additional charge."

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    @Haas_Dave did I say something wrong?

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    https://www.ultramobile.com/tourist/ Is where the tourist plan on T-Mobile’s site leads to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kevink1 View Post
    https://www.ultramobile.com/tourist/ Is where the tourist plan on T-Mobile’s site leads to.
    Tourist plan? I'm talking about the below, which I think is open to anybody
    Name:  esr.jpg
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Size:  52.5 KB

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    Sorry, I assumed you were talking about the tourist plan, since you would be a tourist

    The tourist plan is cheaper if you don't need all that data.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kevink1 View Post
    Sorry, I assumed you were talking about the tourist plan, since you would be a tourist

    The tourist plan is cheaper if you don't need all that data.
    No worries. Do you think the one on the screenshot would allow me to do what I opened the thread for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kirifella View Post
    No worries. Do you think the one on the screenshot would allow me to do what I opened the thread for?
    Probably. I've never used "Tmobile Prepaid", but am currently on Tmobile postpaid since September. But I'm in Oklahoma, which likely isn't on your planned list


    From reading forums on other carriers, such as ATT, make sure that you don't get signed up for any auto-pay. I've seen many posts on ATT where people are on auto pay, and since now out of the country, can't connect to ATT via the phone to disable it. And don't have a number to call.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kirifella View Post
    No worries. Do you think the one on the screenshot would allow me to do what I opened the thread for?
    What you showed could work for your needs. Sorry about not replying sooner (other priorities came up), and I didn't realize you mentioned this option.

    Since you plan to mostly stay in urban/metro areas, this should work decently. As kevink1 mentioned, service will vary in some areas but overall it should be fine.

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    Thanks kevink1 and Haas_Dave. And do you happen to know what this "Un-Carrier" thing is about?

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    It's a counterculture-like branding and marketing that T-Mobile US has been using for several years now.

    When T-Mobile US was becoming a public company in 2013, the company started making competitive moves to shake up churn from big two carriers here in the US (Verizon and AT&T).

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    Quote Originally Posted by kirifella View Post
    Thanks kevink1 and Haas_Dave. And do you happen to know what this "Un-Carrier" thing is about?
    They did things like, on certain brands, advertise the prices as inclusive of taxes and fees. Which, depending on market, can be pretty high.

    One thing that is pretty common now is no contracts. In that you have to pay an ETF to leave within 2 years. But, of course, if financing a phone the balance does become due.

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