The prepaid carrier is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that offers big savings compared to the Big 4 networks.
Red Pocket Mobile: Things to know before you sign up
If you’re already familiar with Red Pocket Mobile and how it works, skip ahead to read my review after more than 40 days of testing. Otherwise, let’s begin with a brief overview of Red Pocket Mobile…
Most smaller cell phone carriers partner with only one of the Big 4 networks and those that work with all of them typically don’t let you choose the network that you want to use.
What makes Red Pocket different is that you CAN choose your own network:
- GSMA = AT&T
- GSMT = T-Mobile
- CDMAS = Sprint
- CDMA = Verizon
If Verizon has the best service in your area, choose the CDMA network with Red Pocket Mobile and you’ll get access to the same towers for a fraction of the price.
In addition to choosing your network, Red Pocket Mobile lets you bring your existing phone and number to the service.
GSM devices are generally compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile, while CDMA devices are generally compatible with Sprint and Verizon. Some devices support both GSM and CDMA, including my Moto G6.
You can learn more about device compatibility on Red Pocket’s website, but here are the highlights:
- GSMA: This network works with most AT&T-compatible, GSM unlocked and CDMA LTE unlocked devices.
- CDMAS: Bring your own Sprint LTE or 3G device and most CDMA unlocked devices.
- GSMT: This network works with most T-Mobile-compatible, GSM unlocked and CDMA LTE unlocked devices.
- CDMA: This network works with most Verizon-compatible LTE and 3G devices.
Plans and pricing
Red Pocket’s monthly data plans start at $10, but its most popular plan is $30 a month with auto-refill. For that price, you get unlimited talk, text and up to 5GB of LTE data. Speeds are reduced to 2G after you’ve exceeded the 5GB limit.
This is important: The amount of LTE data you get for the monthly price may vary depending on the network you choose.
For example, the $30 a month plan offers 5GB of LTE data when you choose the GSMA (AT&T) or CDMAS (Sprint) networks. You only get 3GB of LTE data on the CDMA (Verizon) and GSMT (T-Mobile) networks.
Red Pocket also sells annual plans through eBay that cost as low as $60, which works out to just $5 a month.
Since Red Pocket Mobile is a prepaid carrier, there are no contracts, credit checks, activation fees or overage fees. The price you see is the price you pay.
Review: My experience with Red Pocket Mobile
I signed up for a Red Pocket Mobile SIM card and activated my service in November 2018. I planned to try out the carrier for 30 days, but I extended the test after encountering call quality issues.
For some context, I purchased a GSMA (AT&T) SIM card with the same Moto G6 phone that I’ve used for previous reviews.
When I first set up my service, I noticed that the call quality was poor. People who I talked to said my voice was muffled and dropped out at times. Most of the calls originated from Atlanta, Georgia.
Take a listen to the call quality from this voicemail that I left for myself:
After recording the video above, I contacted Red Pocket Mobile’s public relations team. The spokesperson was surprised to learn about my troubles and suggested that my device may be the problem.
While I waited for the new SIM cards, I tested another AT&T MVNO (Unreal Mobile) and had no call performance issues. I took this step to confirm that my Moto G6 phone wasn’t to blame.
Next, something happened that really surprised me…
I reinserted the original Red Pocket GSMA (AT&T) SIM card into my phone and dialed up one of the people who said the call quality was terrible. This time around, he said it sounded like a “normal cell phone service.”
Red Pocket Mobile’s PR contact said there was no technical explanation for the turnaround and provided this statement:
“Red Pocket Mobile offers service on your choice of America’s major networks. The coverage experienced will be the same as the native network coverage for the underlying carrier, which will result in the same coverage as any other reseller using that same underlying network. Red Pocket does not make any adjustments to your network connection or use VOIP services. Certain advanced calling features like VoLTE are dependent on network availability for resellers. Currently, VoLTE is available on our CDMA and GSMT networks, and it will be available soon on our CDMAS network. Our underlying carrier for GSMA plans to introduce VoLTE for its resellers later this year.”
I continued testing Red Pocket with the two new SIM cards that were sent to me. The call quality was excellent when I used the CDMA (Verizon) SIM card, but I again had trouble with the second GSMA (AT&T) SIM card.
RootMetrics ranks AT&T second for call performance in Atlanta, so I’m not sure what caused the issues with Red Pocket.
Although I’ll mostly remember Red Pocket Mobile for the unreliable call quality, the days that I had the CMDA (Verizon) SIM card in my phone were trouble-free.
Before you make a decision about Red Pocket, I encourage you to read reviews from the Better Business Bureau and other sources.
Based on my experience, I don’t recommend that new customers buy Red Pocket’s annual plans sold through eBay. If you want to try this service, start with a monthly plan first to see if it works for you.
To learn about other low-cost wireless providers, read Clark’s guide to the best cell phone plans and deals!