Verizon's New 'Unlimited' Plans Are Just Screwing With Us Now

Photo: Verizon

Starting August 5th, Verizon is rolling out a new batch of “Unlimited” plans. But after seeing the names of the company’s new offering and what they include, I feel like Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Verizon’s new phone plan lineup includes four “unlimited” packages that can be mixed-and-matched depending on your needs starting at $70 per month for one line, along with the Just Kids plan the company announced last month. 

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Start Unlimited is the cheapest plan and includes “unlimited” 4G LTE data, unlimited talk and texting allowances, 480p “DVD-Quality’ video streaming (which doesn’t qualify as HD), talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada, Verizon Up rewards, and a 6-month subscription to Apple Music. Notably, this plan does not come with 4G LTE hotspot functionality.

Finally, you can also add on support for 5G service for $10 a month, which will upgrade the plan with unlimited 5G data and hotspot usage, assuming you’re in a location that 5G service.

Graphic: Verizon

Moving up to Verizon’s $80 per month tier you actually have two somewhat similar plans aimed at slightly different audiences. The highlight of Verizon’s Play More Unlimited plan is that it comes with 720p HD video streaming, while the Do More Unlimited plan offers more productivity-minded bonuses including 500GB of cloud storage, discounts on any additional connected tablets and standalone hotspots, and 50GB of “premium” data, but only 480p video streaming.

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The premium data is where things start to get tricky, because despite being called unlimited plans, the fine text at the bottom of Verizon’s infographic notes that “In times of congestion, your [unlimited 4G LTE] data may be temporarily slower than other traffic (only after 25 GB/mo on Play More Unlimited, 50 GB/mo on Do More Unlimited and 75 GB/mo on Get More Unlimited).”

In other words, Verizon’s premium data is essentially a soft data cap, after which your data speeds could be throttled based on network congestion. And despite costing the same, the Play More Unlimited plan only comes with 25GB of premium 4G LTE data instead of 50GB like you get with the Do More Unlimited plan.

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Both plans also come with 15GB of 4G LTE hotspot data, and if you use up that data, hotspot data speeds will be reduced to just 600 Kbps, which is basically just a trickle. On top of that, the two plans also come with free unlimited 5G data and hotspot usage, but only for a limited time. After Verizon’s promo goes away, access to 5G will cost $10 a month per line. And with the Play More Unlimited plan’s emphasis on mobile entertainment, it also comes with a free subscription to Apple Music, while the Do More plan only gets a 6-month trial.

Finally, there’s Verizon’s top tier plan which has been somewhat oxymoronically named Get More Unlimited. (How are you supposed to get more of something that’s supposedly infinite?) It comes with everything available in Verizon’s less expensive plans along with 75GB of “premium” 4G LTE data, 720p HD video streaming, 30GB of 4G LTE hotspot data, and Apple Music.

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Confused yet? Hopefully, the chart above makes things a little easier to understand. But even so, Verizon splitting its $80 per month offerings into two different plans is particularly frustrating. You can either get more “premium data” or higher quality video streaming. If you want both, you have to upgrade to Get More Unlimited.

Annoyingly, there are a few more small but potentially important details you should know. While all of Verizon’s new “unlimited” plans come with talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada, you only get 512MB of international data before your data will be reduced to 2G speeds.

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And if you select one of the plans with a 6-month trial of Apple Music, unless you live in New Mexico, you better remember to cancel your sub after the trial ends, or else you’ll be charged $10 a month per line.

In the end, the thing that is truly infuriating is the manner in which Verizon tosses around terms like “unlimited” and “premium data,” which somehow has only gotten worse since the last time Verizon updated its phone plans. Depending on which plan you choose, Verizon’s definition of “unlimited data” changes, and even when you’re staring at the chart, between deciphering the names of each plan and determining which features and limitations matter most, trying to figure out which plan is right for you is enough to make your head spin.

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Why does picking a phone plan need to be this difficult?

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About the author

Sam Rutherford

Senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.