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Verizon Visible review: Temporarily the best prepaid carrier deal in the US

Verizon's Millennial-friendly prepaid service is the best deal in the U.S. right now, but it might not last.

Published onJune 26, 2019

A Samsung Galaxy S9 on some grass with the Visible logo on the display.
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Verizon’s Visible service is a prepaid carrier geared towards Millennials. With no physical stores, no contracts, and a single, all-in pricing plan, Visible wants to be the prepaid carrier of choice for people who don’t see the need for a confusing postpaid carrier experience. In this Visible review, we want to let you know all about how it works and whether it will be a good fit for you.

Today, Visible is announcing a temporary lift on one of its biggest service caveats: a 5Mbps speed limit. All current Visible subscribers no longer have this limit and anyone who signs up between now and when the temporary suspension ends (which Visible would not divulge) will also get a high-speed experience for as long as they are with Visible.

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Essentially, that means you are getting unlimited talk and text as well as unlimited, high-speed 4G LTE data on the Verizon network for just $40 per month, with all taxes and fees included in that price. Without a doubt, that makes Visible the best prepaid carrier deal in the United States right now.

However, there are still some caveats that might prevent you from wanting to take advantage of this temporary deal. Read on for our Visible review!

About this review: Visible provided Android Authority with a tester phone that included Visible service for this review. The tester phone was a Samsung Galaxy S9 (SM-G960U1) running Android 9 Pie with One UI v1.0. This Visible review was in no way funded by Visible, Verizon, or any other organization.

Service basics

A Samsung Galaxy S9 in front of a brick wall with the Visible logo on the display.

There is only one plan at Visible and there are no options to customize that plan. It is what it is, take it or leave it.

This is an interesting way of approaching wireless service and we wanted to know more about the decisions behind it. We had the chance to sit down with Visible CEO Miguel Quiroga to get some questions answered, and we asked him if Visible intends to create more plans at different price points in the future.

“Our primary goal is to offer the crispest, cleanest way to get phone service in the United States,” Quiroga said. “It’s gotta be simple.”

Why isn’t Visible a Verizon MVNO?

If nothing else, Visible achieved simplicity in spades. The service’s solitary plan costs $40 per month for unlimited everything: voice, text, data, and hotspot. There is no contract for the plan, so you can sign up and then leave whenever you wish.

Starting today, there are no speed caps for any customers, both new and old, and there’s no data throttling either. For $40 per month, you can use however many gigabytes of data you like and never need to worry. This applies to everything but hotspot, which has some caveats — but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Visible's current plan is simple: unlimited talk and text and unlimited high-speed data with no speed caps and no throttling, all for $40 per month.

Visible is a sub-brand of Verizon, so all of your network traffic works on the same towers postpaid Verizon customers use. That means you get high-speed unlimited data on the nation’s largest network for a fraction of the postpaid cost.

There are also no taxes or fees tacked onto that price — your bill will be exactly $40 every month no matter where you live.

Available devices

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There are two ways to get Visible service: bring your own device or buy one from Visible. The phones Visible supports are the same as the phones it sells (or will sell in the near future), which does limit your prospects a bit.

As of today, the list below represents the full supported Android device list for Visible. If you bring one of these phones yourself, it needs to be completely unlocked. If you buy it from Visible, you get the unlocked model, and as such would then be able to take it to another carrier if you so wished:

Additionally, Visible supports every iPhone released since the iPhone 6. It also sells new iPhones with some older models sold used.

Unfortunately, if your current smartphone isn’t an iPhone or on the list of Android devices above, it won’t work correctly on Visible.

Visible changed this rural techie's life for the better
A Samsung Galaxy S9 on some grass with the Visible logo on the display.

As stated earlier, this Visible review was conducted on a Samsung Galaxy S9 provided by the company. Just for the sake of testing, we popped our Visible SIM card into a OnePlus 7 Pro, which is unlocked and compatible with Verizon. It didn’t work at all; we had no signal, not even 2G.

If you want Visible service and are ready to buy one of its supported devices, the company makes it easy. You can get any device that’s over $200 for no money down and financed with zero interest through Visible’s partner Affirm. What’s more, if you port in your existing number and buy a device from Visible that costs $400 or more, you get a $200 prepaid Mastercard credit back.

Visible's supported phone list is pretty small, but the promotions and sales perks it offers make up for that.

New customers also get $20 off their first month. You can earn more credits by referring friends, with each friend who signs up for Visible service of any kind earning you a $20 bill credit.

Finally, Visible will accept a trade-in of any Android phone not on the list above and give you a free Visible R2 smartphone in return.

We pressed Miguel Quiroga on when we will see other supported Android devices arrive. He said the company is constantly listening to customer feedback about what devices they want and which manufacturers are the most important to them. If you want to join Visible but don’t want to give up your phone, you should let the company know.

The Visible app

A Samsung Galaxy S9 on a wood table with the Visible app on its display.

There are no brick-and-mortar stores for Visible. Everything is done through the Visible website or the Visible app, so how the app works is pretty important.

If you download the Visible app to your current smartphone, you can do everything you need to get Visible service. You can buy a phone or order a SIM card to install on your current phone.

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Conversely, you can do both those things on the Visible website, Either way, you never need to go to a store and you don’t need to talk to anyone on the phone, two things Millennials hate doing.

The Visible app itself is like the service: simple. There’s tons of white space and nothing is in the app that you don’t need. It tells you your balance, when your payment is due, your payment history, etc. If you have any questions about billing or your service, there’s a live chat available in the app 24/7.

The fine print: What is Visible missing?

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

For the people out there who just want to talk on the phone, text, and use as much data as they like without needing to worry about overages or throttling, Visible seems like a great option. You won’t find a cheaper plan that offers the same unlimited service with the same robust network speeds and connectivity offered by Verizon and Visible.

However, Visible’s one-size-fits-all approach to wireless leaves many potential customers out in the cold. Here are the problems you will face with Visible:

The speed limit removal is temporary — If you are already a Visible customer, you no longer have a 5Mbps speed limit and will never see it again. If you sign up now for Visible, you will also have no speed limit and never see it. However, the removal of the speed limit for new sign-ups is “for a limited time,” so at any point in the future, Visible could remove this perk for future customers. That means if you want Visible, you’d better sign up fast to lock yourself into the uncapped speeds.

Limited device selection — As stated in an earlier section of this Visible review, you are stuck using the very few Android devices Visible supports. There will likely be more added soon, but for now, you have very limited options.

Unclear if speeds are equal to Verizon postpaid — We asked Quiroga if a person paying Verizon $75 per month for that company’s cheapest unlimited plan would get the same speeds as someone on Visible. He said the speeds would be comparable. However, we conducted speed tests on Visible directly outside a Verizon store and saw an average of 20Mbps down and 16Mbps up:

Granted, 20Mbps down is certainly adequate for the majority of people’s needs (and much better than 5Mbps), but we conducted a similar speed test on a phone with a Verizon SIM card and saw around 120Mbps down. Now, this is anecdotal evidence at best (we’d need to do a whole lot more testing to be certain), but it does seem to suggest that Visible customers won’t see the same speeds as postpaid Verizon customers.

No throttling, but there’s a quality cap — While using mobile data, video streaming is limited to 480p quality. While this is definitely a bummer, even most postpaid customers face the same limitation.

Hotspot is severely limited — The removal of speed limits for data usage on Visible only applies to smartphone data, not hotspot data. Although hotspot data consumption is also unlimited, the speed is still capped at the old 5Mbps. Additionally, you can only connect one device at a time to your phone. If you try to connect your laptop and your tablet, for example, the second one you attempt to connect will be blocked.

No international support — Visible’s service is only available in the continental United States and Hawaii. If you want service in American territories such as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, or any other international destination, Visible won’t work. That includes Canada and Mexico. You also can’t make international calls (including to Canada and Mexico) as the plan doesn’t cover that and Visible’s one-size-fits-all structure doesn’t allow for additional charges. As such, if you make a lot of international calls or travel outside the U.S. quite a bit, Visible isn’t for you.

No other perks — T-Mobile customers get free Netflix, Verizon customers get six months of free Apple Music, and AT&T customers get free HBO, but Visible customers don’t get anything. Granted, Visible customers pay much less than postpaid customers on any carrier, but if you’re looking for freebies you won’t find them here. You don’t even get an autopay discount.

If these caveats don’t mean anything to you then you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by joining Visible. At $40 per month, you will be paying nearly half as much as a customer on the average postpaid unlimited plan and likely saving $10 or more as compared to other prepaid plans for a better caliber of service.

We asked Quiroga about the customers that Visible leaves behind and how the company plans to address them in the future. What about the potential customers who need a high-speed hotspot or the ability to make international calls? “We are just looking at a slightly different audience at the moment,” Quiroga says. “It’s one of those things where you can do it all or you can do some specific things really well, and this plan as it stands is what we’re focused on delivering right now.”

In other words, keep an eye on the relatively young company even if you don’t find this plan appealing yet, as it could start to deliver something more akin to what you need in the future.

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