You may or may not have heard about Aio Wireless, the new prepaid mobile wireless company that looks to provide an option for consumers who want a cool mobile device, without a confusing and expensive contract, running on a fast network.
For most people, opting to go the prepaid route means that they have to sacrifice one or more of the above qualifications. You either get a simple plan, but with subpar network speeds. Or you can decent network speeds, but the phone selection is embarrassing enough that would rather keep in your pocket rather than lying on the table.
According to Aio Wireless, that doesn’t have to be the case. They want to offer phones that the consumer can be proud of owning, without sacrificing network quality, or signing over their first born child. So they sent me one of their review devices to test the phone and network quality.
Before I get into the device or the network speed, I wanted to highlight that even though Aio Wireless is a subsidy of AT&T and runs on Big Blue’s network, Aio calls the shots on how they operate. As a result, they offer some pretty solid wireless rate incentives to be competitive with the other prepaid companies, as well as the “Big Two + two” (VZW, AT&T…Sprint and T-Mobile).
First off, there’s no contract — cancel at anytime and not worry about any cancellation fees. Another thing I noticed on the website was that the rate prices included taxes and fees. In other words, you won’t feel like you’re getting “nickled and dimed” every time you look at your bill.
The rate plans are pretty good as well – If you don’t care about a smartphone, but don’t want to worry about using up talk/text minutes — Your plan is a flat $40/month for unlimited talk/text. If you want a sexier phone and more data, plans start at $55/month for unlimited talk/text and 2GB of high speed data and go up to a incredibly expensive [/sarcasm] $70/month for 7GB of data.
That’s pretty much it. I’ve just explained the bulk of Aio Wireless’ rate plans in a two-sentence paragraph. Try that with the other carriers…
Speaking of sexy phones, what makes signing a contract so appealing is you don’t have to buy a high-powered smartphone upfront. You can essentially finance the phone and pay a little at a time. By the time the contract is up, you own a nice phone, and the wireless carrier gets PAID.
With Aio Wireless, you have the option to pay full-price upfront for a phone, and save in the long run because your monthly plan doesn’t have the price of the phone built-in, or bring your own device and activate it on Aio Wireless network (Click here to find out if your phone is compatible).
What kind of phones do they offer? I’m glad you asked. Aio Wireless sent me Samsung Galaxy S4 to play around with in order to test out the service. In addition to the Galaxy line, Aio also offers iPhones and Nokia devices to ensure you’re keeping up with the [smartphone] Joneses’.
Now I’m not going to take up any time reviewing the Samsung GS4 from Aio Wireless, because it’s the same as a GS4 from VZW, AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile with the exception of the badging on the back panel, and cool welcome/splash screen when you turn the phone on.
What I will point out is the differences in data speeds. Now, I didn’t experience any difference in call quality, and the network didn’t drop any of my calls during my test. So for the most part, I’ve been doing all this nice-talking about Aio but one thing that could pose a problem from switching personally is that Aio throttles its high-speed data at 8 Mbps (Megabits per second). In other words, if your location can support crazy-fast connection speeds, (check), and you have an fast LTE-compatible smartphone (check), the fastest speed you will ever get is around 8 Mbps before Aio steps in and slows down your connectivity. That could be a potential deal-breaker for the “I need my Instagram selfies to upload yesterday” crowd.
For the other wireless carriers, while I can’t confirm or deny that they don’t put utilize mobile data speed caps. Even if they did, I’m almost sure it would be well beyond 8 Mbps.
I will be honest and say the data speeds seemed okay when I was using the GS4. I don’t know if I either subconsciously expected Aio wireless network to be a little slower, or after the first couple of days, the speed became “normal”; but it worked fine for me. It wasn’t until I did a side-by-side comparison that I visually noticed a difference.
Overall, for somebody looking to cut costs across the board in our current financial climate, their monthly wireless bill is a good place to start now that carriers like Aio Wireless can provide quality less expensive options. Additionally, Aio Wireless is a solid option for those who otherwise couldn’t not afford a monthly contract to start with. Mobile is the only way some people get access to the world wide web (Think digital divide)
Based on my tests (results may vary in your area), albeit, a small amount, you will have to sacrifice some wireless data speed in order to get a nice smartphone on one of the carrier’s simple no-contract plans. The question you will have to ask yourself is which is more important.
Be sure to visit Aio Wireless to learn more about their plans, and if your area is covered.