FreedomPop takes its name quite literally, offering a wireless plan where you won't have to pay a thing each month for talk, text and data. The trade-off for this freedom, though, is a pretty low ceiling on just how much you can talk, text and surf from your phone.
What other trade-offs do you make when turning to FreedomPop for your wireless service? Here's a closer look at what the carrier offers potential customers.
What network does FreedomPop use?
As a mobile virtual network operator, FreedomPop uses another carrier's towers to provide its cellular service. In FreedomPop's case, that's two carriers. After relying on Sprint's network for years, FreedomPop added AT&T in late 2016.
While Sprint has worked to improve its network, it has the slowest LTE speeds of the Big Four carriers, according to our testing, so it's good that AT&T is part of the mix. When you sign up with FreedomPop, you get to pick a SIM card or phone that works on either carrier's network.
What phones can you use with FreedomPop?
FreedomPop now sells some additional phones — mostly older, cheaper models like the second-generation Moto E, the LG G4, LG Tribute 2 and Kyocera Hydro Icon. Its selection of refurbished phones is more extensive and includes some more recent flagships like the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7, both available at discounted rates.
You'll have to pay the full price of the phone when you buy from FreedomPop, however, as there are no installment plans.
You can bring your own phone to use on FreedomPop — either a Sprint locked phone (meaning that it hasn't been used on any other network) or any unlocked GSM phone. FreedomPop charges $20 to activate your phone, and you'll pay another $10 to move your phone number over to the carrier. (There's a list of supported carriers for transferring your phone number, but it includes all of the major players.)
A SIM card normally costs $9.99 if you use FreedomPop's SIM-only phone service, though the carrier runs promotions that heavily discount the card.
What are the best FreedomPop plans?
FreedomPop's plans start with a free option, though it's pretty limited. You get 200 minutes of talk, 500 text messages and 500MB of data. Monthly rates kick in once you opt for unlimited talk and text, with the monthly bill increasing as you add more data. However, the price differs depending on whether you use one of FreedomPop's phones, or bring your own GSM device.
For BYOD customers, plans start at $12.99 for 1GB of data and scale up to $26.99 for a 3GB data plan. To put that in context, Cricket charges $40 a month for its 5GB plan (you can reduce that to $35 by using autopay with Cricket), while MetroPCS' 5GB plan also costs $40.
|Basic 500||200 minutes||500 texts||500MB||Free|
|Premium GSM 1GB||Unlimited||Unlimited||1GB||$12.99|
|Premium GSM 2GB||Unlimited||Unlimited||2GB||$19.99|
|Premium GSM 3GB||Unlimited||Unlimited||3GB||$26.99|
Strangely, if you opt for one of the carrier's own phones, you'll end up paying a little more every month – though you'll also have the option to buy a 4GB plan, which isn't available to other customers.
|Basic 500||200 minutes||500 texts||500MB||Free|
Confusingly, FreedomPop also offers data-only plans, with no talk and text features. Here, the free option offers just 500MB of data and access to the carrier's 4G LTE network exclusively. Spend $3.99 a month, and you'll get the Pro 500MB plan, which adds support for FreedomPop's 3G network. After that, rates increase to $28.99 per month for 3GB, $34.99 for 4GB, $39.99 for 5GB, and $74.99 for 10GB. Curiously, these plans cost more on average than their counterparts with talk and text.
Buy a SIM card from FreedomPop and the carrier will give you 2GB of free 4G LTE data for the first month; after that, you'll be bumped up to a paid plan for the SIM service. You have to log in to your FreedomPop account to select the free option (and its low data allotment) if you want to avoid charges.
FreedomPop also offers family plans, with each member of the family drawing from one pool of data. The base plan offers 1GB of LTE data, and FreedomPop bills it as a free option, though you will have to pay $5 per line. As a little bonus, FreedomPop currently throws in a free 50MB of data per line, which helps grow the pool of data for larger families. Other data tiers include 2GB for $14.99, 4GB for $34.99, 10GB for $74.99 and 25GB for $159.99, with unlimited talk and text. You can have up to 10 lines on a FreedomPop family plan.
If you go over your allotted data, it'll cost $0.015 per MB in most plans. Subscribers on the free plan, meanwhile, pay $0.02 per MB. However, free users will not be able to add any minutes or texts if they hit their cap – they'll have to upgrade to paid service. When you get close to your data limit, FreedomPop will automatically charge you $15, and whatever excess charges you incur will be taken from that credit.
What special features does FreedomPop offer?
FreedomPop supports Wi-Fi Calling, a feature that allows you to make calls and send texts over Wi-Fi. It's handy if you're using the carrier's free service with its caps on texts and talk time, as you'll be able to use Wi-Fi for a lot of your calling and texting needs.
Other special features include mobile hotspot support. FreedomPop also features rollover data, in which up to 500MB per month of unused data can carry over to the next month. Rollover costs $3.99 per month, but another option, Rollover Plus, costs $6.99 and lets you carry over up to 1GB of data. Your unused data doesn't expire, though you are capped at storing 20GB for the standard Rollover plan and 40GB for Rollover Plus. You can also earn data by referring friends to FreedomPop.
What do customers say about FreedomPop?
FreedomPop has a B rating from the Better Business Bureau, receiving 3.74 out of 5 stars. Roughly two-thirds of the 419 user reviews posted there are positive, while a third are negative. FreedomPop's rating is lower at TrustPilot, where it averages a 5.3 out of 10 from 760 user reviewers.
User reviews praise the free plan FreedomPop provides and generally applaud the responsiveness of customer service, though FreedomPop's customer service also gets its share of pans. There are some complaints about call quality, and a few users have taken issue about FreedomPop's SIM cards arriving preactivated.
A review posted on The Motley Fool in 2015 painted a mixed picture for FreedomPop. The carrier's low prices and customer service both earned kudos, but the reviewer eventually dropped FreedomPop due to dropped calls and data connections, along with issues getting an iPhone running on the service.
If your wireless needs are very limited — a few calls and texts here and some light data use there — you can save serious cash each month by turning to FreedomPop. The availability of family plans increases the service's appeal, though navigating through FreedomPop's multiple pricing options can be a bit frustrating. There are also limitations involving which devices you can use, and if Sprint's or AT&T’s networks don't serve your needs, you may want to turn to another carrier.
Credit: Freedom Pop