MetroPCS - The #1 Low-Cost Phone Carrier
Thanks to a fast mobile network and appealing plans that satisfy both data demands and budget concerns, MetroPCS is our top-ranked prepaid carrier. In fact, MetroPCS has enough going for it that we'd even recommend it over Sprint. Opting for MetroPCS means accepting some trade-offs, particularly in the area of customer service, where the carrier continues to struggle, but MetroPCS' mix of performance and plans is hard to overlook.
Carrier Performance (37/40 points)
MetroPCS relies on the network of its parent company, T-Mobile, and that's fortunate, considering that T-Mobile finished just a hair behind speed champ Verizon in our LTE network speed testing. We found that MetroPCS essentially matched the download and upload speeds of T-Mobile; MetroPCS averaged 22.1 Mbps down and 16 Mbps up, compared to 23.5 Mbps down and 16.3 Mbps up for T-Mobile. In three of the cities where we tested, MetroPCS actually posted faster download speeds than its parent company.
Thanks to its use of T-Mobile's network, MetroPCS is far and away the fastest prepaid carrier. It outpaced the download averages for both Virgin (18 Mbps) and Boost (16.8 Mbps), while leaving Cricket and Straight Talk in the dust.
Whether you want a low monthly bill or a big bucket of data, MetroPCS has a plan that will deliver what you're asking for.
Plans (21/25 points)
Whether you want a low monthly bill or a big bucket of data, MetroPCS has a plan that will deliver what you're asking for. Plans start at $30 a month for 2GB of data, which matches what Cricket offers. A better deal is MetroPCS's $40 a month plan, which features 5GB of data; only AT&T offers more at that price.
MetroPCS really shines in its unlimited data plan. You can get unlimited data for $50 a month if you don't mind restricting your video streams to 480p. A $60 monthly unlimited plan adds 10GB of LTE hotspot data.
MetroPCS now lets you add extra lines to each of its plans for $30 each. That's a better deal on more expensive plans, and it matches what rival Boost charges for additional lines.
If there's one area where MetroPCS continues to struggle, it's in handling customer service questions.
Customer Service (13/20 points)
If there's one area where MetroPCS continues to struggle, it's in handling customer service questions. While MetroPCS' online support site has improved — it now includes documentation for various phones — the carrier doesn't always answer questions promptly on social media. Phone support features a maze of automated voice-recognition options that you have to navigate, adding time to support calls. MetroPCS reps struggled to answer our questions, and we struggled to understand the answers. If you anticipate needing to interact with support a lot, that may be reason enough to give MetroPCS a pass.
Phone Selection (6/10 points)
For a discount carrier, MetroPCS offers a pretty decent selection of phones. While not great in number — we counted 27 models on offer — you do get a variety of phones, from flagships like the Galaxy S8 and iPhone X to exclusives like the ZTE Blade Z Max. MetroPCS also features 22 phones selling for less than $300, which is good if you want to spend as little on hardware as you do on cellular service.
Featured MetroPCS Phones: Galaxy S9, ZTE Blade Z Max, iPhone X, iPhone 8
Special Features (3/5 points)
MetroPCS has stepped up its perks considerably since the last time we evaluated carriers, taking a cue from parent company, T-Mobile. Customers with tiered data plans can take advantage of a Data Maximizer feature, which streams video at lower resolution, allowing you to squeeze more data out of your monthly allotment. The carrier's Music Unlimited program lets you stream music from more than 40 services without touching any of your data.
Like the $60 unlimited plan, MetroPCS' 1GB and 6GB plans let you use LTE hotspot data, though for the tiered data plans, that comes out of your monthly data allotment.
For $5 a month, you can get an add-on to your plan that allows unlimited calling in either Mexico or Canada. The Unlimited Canada package also includes unlimited texting to the United States' neighbor to the north, and you can use your LTE data plan when traveling in Canada. Mexico Unlimited offers the same benefits, except you don't get unlimited texting to or from that country. A $10 World Calling package allows for unlimited calls to landlines in more than 75 countries, plus 200 minutes of mobile calling in select countries.