Compared: 5G data plans from Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile

Figuring out whether or not you have 5G service in your area is only part of the equation.

Ahead of the Galaxy S20 5G line launching, and Qualcomm's announcement that there are at least 70 devices with 5G capabilities currently in the works, it's a good idea to understand what you'll need to use your new phone's 5G connectivity. 

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Looking over coverage maps to see whether you live somewhere with 5G coverage is only part of the equation. (Spoiler: You'll probably be disappointed.) You'll also need to be on one of your wireless carriers' plans that include 5G connectivity. 

Odds are, if you're on one of your carrier's current unlimited plans, you shouldn't have any issues using their 5G service. However, if you're on an older plan, you'll probably need to change to one of the plans listed below. Pricing for each plan depends on how many lines of service you have on the plan, so the prices listed below are for a single line of service. Keep in mind the price goes down as you add more lines. 

Disclosure: ZDNet may earn an affiliate commission from some of the products featured on this page. ZDNet and the author were not compensated for this independent review. 

Verizon Wireless

Verizon customers can pick between three different plans with 5G access. 

Play More Unlimited: For $90 per month, you get unlimited 4G LTE with 25GB of Premium Data, unlimited 5G UWB data/mobile hotspot, and 4K video streaming. You also get 15GB of 4G LTE mobile hotspot, 720p HD streaming, and an Apple Music subscription. 

Do More Unlimited: For $90 per month, you get unlimited 4G LTE with 50GB of Premium Data, unlimited 5G UWB data/mobile hotspot, and 4K video streaming. You also get 15GB of 4G LTE mobile hotspot, 480p HD streaming, an Apple Music subscription for six months, 50% off a tablet or jetpack plan, and 500GB of Verizon's cloud storage. 

Get More Unlimited: For $100 per month, you get unlimited 4G LTE with 75GB of Premium Data, unlimited 5G UWB data/mobile hotspot, and 4K video streaming. You also get 30GB of 4G LTE mobile hotspot, 720p HD streaming, an Apple Music subscription for six months, 50% off a tablet or jetpack plan, and 500GB of Verizon's cloud storage. 

Eventually, Verizon will charge customers $10 per month to access the 5G network. Right now, presumably, as Verizon continues expanding its 5G footprint, the monthly fee is waived. Customers will see the charge on their bill, followed by a credit for the same amount. 

When you go over the premium data allotment for the 4G LTE portion of the plan, Verizon will slow down your data speeds when its network is congested. 

AT&T

AT&T customers who want to access the carrier's 5G network have two plans to pick from. 

Unlimited Extra: For $85 per month, users will get unlimited talk, text, and data in the US, Mexico, and Canada. Fifty gigabytes of premium data is included, along with 15GB of mobile hotspot, and texting to 120 countries from the US. Videos will stream at standard definition. Automatic fraud blocking and spam risk alerts are also included. 

Unlimited Elite: For $95 per month, users will get unlimited talk, text, and data in the US, Mexico, and Canada. One-hundred gigabytes of premium data is included, along with 30GB of mobile hotspot, and texting to 120 countries from the US. Videos will stream at high definition. Automatic fraud blocking and spam risk alerts are also included. You'll also get a subscription to HBO. 

After a user goes over the premium data allotment, AT&T may slow down your data speeds when the network is congested. 

T-Mobile

T-Mobile has the simplest approach to 5G-specific plans, per its FAQ: "All T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile plans include access to 5G at no extra cost." Meaning, if you're a T-Mobile customer, you don't need to change a thing -- even if you're on an older plan. 

T-Mobile has three plans currently listed on its site.

Essentials: For $65 per month, you get unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data. You'll also get unlimited talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada, with data speeds limited to 128Kbps. You'll get an unlimited 3G mobile hotspot, video streaming at 480p, and access to Simple Global text message service abroad. 

Magenta: For $75 per month, you get unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data. Mobile hotspot use is limited to 3GB of 4G LTE data (after which it falls back to unlimited 3G speeds). You'll get 5GB of 4G LTE data in Mexico and Canada, along with unlimited talk and text. Gogo in-flight text messaging is concluded, along with one hour of free Wi-Fi use. Videos will stream in 480p. If you have two or more lines on the Magenta plan, it'll also include a Netflix subscription at no extra charge. 

Magenta Plus: For $90 per month, you get unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data. Mobile hotspot use is limited to 20GB of 4G LTE data (after which it falls back to unlimited 3G speeds). You'll get 5GB of 4G LTE data in Mexico and Canada, along with unlimited talk and text. Gogo in-flight text messaging is concluded, along with unlimited Wi-Fi use. Videos will stream in 1080p. If you have two or more lines on the Magenta Plus plan, it'll also include a Netflix subscription at no extra charge. Voicemail to text and Name ID call blocker are also included. 

For any of the above plans, T-Mobile will slow down your connection speed after 50GB of data use each billing cycle. 

Metro by T-Mobile customers can also use the company's 5G network. Plans range from $40 per month for 10GB of data with unlimited talk and text, to $60 for unlimited high-speed data, an Amazon Prime membership, 100GB of Google One storage, and 15GB of hotspot data. Metro will slow down your data speeds after 35GB of use. 

Sprint

All of Sprint's unlimited plans include access to its 5G network. 

Unlimited Basic: For $60 per month, you'll get unlimited talk, text, and data. Also included is video streaming at 480p, 500MB of 4G LTE hotspot, and a Hulu subscription. You'll get unlimited talk and text, with 5GB of 4G LTE data in Canada and Mexico. 

Unlimited Plus: For $70 per month, you'll get unlimited talk, text, and data. Also included is video streaming at 1080p and 50GB of 4G LTE hotspot. Subscriptions to Hulu and Tidal music are also included. Additionally, you'll get unlimited talk and text, with 10GB of 4G LTE data in Canada and Mexico. 

Unlimited Premium: For $80 per month, you'll get unlimited talk, text, and data. Also included is video streaming at Full HD and 100GB of 4G LTE hotspot. Subscriptions to Hulu, Tidal music, Lookout Premium Plus, and Amazon Prime are also included. Additionally, you'll get unlimited talk and text, and 4G LTE data in Canada and Mexico, along with international coverage with global roaming. 

Sprint may slow down your data speeds after 50GB of use in a billing cycle during network congestion.