Chances are you’re already getting cable, internet and home phone service from Comcast. The nation’s largest cable and internet provider figures you’ll want to throw in mobile service as well.
Credit: Jeff Fusco/APThat’s the idea behind Xfinity Mobile, a service that Comcast launched a little more than a year ago. And plenty of people have taken Comcast up on its offer: as of the end of June 2018, Comcast reported that it had 781 thousand wireless connections enrolled in the service.
Xfinity Mobile hasn’t grown that big because Comcast started erecting its own cellular towers. Rather, it’s a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (or MVNO), which piggybacks on the existing network of one or more of the major carriers. (In Comcast’s case, that’s Verizon’s network coupled with the internet provider’s own Wi-Fi hotspots.) For wireless customers, getting service from an MVNO can sometimes mean a better deal than what you’d get from a major carrier while still enjoying the same great coverage.
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With Xfinity Mobile, it’s all about the bundling, as it is with Comcast’s other services. In fact, you aren’t even eligible for Xfinity Mobile if you don’t already do business with Comcast or are willing to make the company your internet-service provider. Meet that criteria, and Xfinity Mobile service could be yours for as low as $45 a month for unlimited talk, text and data.
Should you turn to Comcast for your cellular service? Here’s a closer look at the rest of the details to see if Xfinity Mobile is right for you.
What Is Xfinity Mobile?
Xfinity Mobile is a available exclusively to Comcast subscribers. The wireless service relies on Verizon’s network (the clear winner in our Fastest Wireless Networks testing), along with access to Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide.
If you subscribe, you can pick between an unlimited data plan and paying only for the data you use. Unlimited nationwide talk and text are included regardless of your data choice. Xfinity Mobile users pay no access fees for up to five lines. (In contrast, Verizon charges its subscribers $20 per line in access fees on top of their regular monthly data plan rate.)
Comcast TV subscribers will be able to use the Xfinity Stream App on their smartphone to stream live TV, on-demand content and shows stored on a cloud-DVR, no matter where they are; it will count against your data allotment, though if you don’t have an unlimited plan with the carrier. (More on that in a moment.)
How Exactly Does Xfinity Mobile Work?
Xfinity Mobile combines Verizon’s LTE network with Comcast’s Wi-Fi hotspots. (Credit: Comcast)For the most part, Xfinity Mobile works just like any other wireless carrier. The two most notable differences are you must maintain a Comcast subscription and your connection will automatically transfer over to a Comcast Wi-Fi hotspot when one is in range. (There’s a pretty good chance one will be — Comcast says it has 18 million hotspots around the country.) Using Wi-Fi instead of a cell tower should typically represent a boost in speed, and if you aren’t on the unlimited data plan, it will help save you data charges. (Several other low-cost carriers, such as Republic Wireless and TextNow, both use this Wi-Fi/cellular approach).
How Much Does Xfinity Mobile Cost?
Prices vary from $12 a month up to $45 a month, depending on the options you choose. Be aware that these prices do not include taxes and fees, which will vary from state to state. When Comcast originally launched Xfinity Mobile in 2017, it had suggested only customers with select packages would qualify for the $45-a-month pricing on unlimited data while others would pay $65, but that $65 tier seems to be MIA. (Not that you’ll hear Xfinity Mobile customers complain about that.)
The bare minimum $12 plan gets you 1GB of data along with unlimited talk and text. If you go beyond 1GB, you are charged an additional $12 per GB. Comcast rounds up, so 2.1GB or 2.9GB of data usage would both be treated as 3GB, and cost you $36.
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You share data between lines, so a family of three that uses a total of 11GB ($132) or less together would still pay less than they would with Xfinity Mobile’s unlimited option for three people ($135). Subscribers have the option of moving between the “By the Gig” plan and unlimited plan at any time without penalty, so if you just have the occasional heavy-data-usage month you could make the switch when necessary.
Credit: ComcastTurning to Xfinity Mobile’s unlimited plan, it costs $45 a month. There are no discounts for adding additional lines, as some carriers offer for families. Like other carriers, Xfinity will slow your speeds if you go over a set amount of data — 20GB during a month in this case. That’s lower than the major carriers’ threshold, as both Verizon and AT&T let unlimited customers use 22GB of data before throttling speeds.
Regardless of whether you opt for unlimited data or by-the-gig pricing, you need to maintain at least one subscription to either Xfinity TV, Internet or Voice services when you’re an Xfinity Mobile customers; otherwise, you’ll need to tack on another $10 per line.
How Does Xfinity Mobile’s Pricing Compare to Other Carriers?
Stacked up against the Big Four carriers, Xfinity Mobile offers attractively priced plans. The most affordable unlimited plans available from those carriers — Sprint’s Unlimited Basic and T-Mobile’s newly unveiled Essentials — start at $60 a month. That’s $15 more than what Xfinity Mobile will charge you.
The advantage disappears as you add more lines, since the major carriers all offer discounts for families. While a family of four would pay $120 a month for unlimited data through the T-Mobile Essentials plan, that same family would be on the hook for $180 at Xfinity Mobile. That’s as much as some of the major carriers charge for their higher-end unlimited plans. (Xfinity would counter that you can mix and match different lines, so that some members of your family can get unlimited data while lower-data users can pay by the gigabyte. That approach can lower your monthly bill.)
Xfinity Mobile’s per-gigabyte pricing is more generous than some of its fellow MVNOs, but it’s not the lowest price you can find. Republic Wireless, for example, charges $5 per gigabyte of data on top of the $15 you’ll pay for unlimited talk and text each month. So a Republic Wireless subscribers who uses 3GB of data would pay $30, while that would cost you $36 at Xfinity Mobile. Google’s Project Fi charges $10 for each gigabyte of LTE data on top of $20 for talk and text, but it only charges you for what you use, crediting your bill for the data you didn’t consume. And neither of those services require you to get your cable or internet from Comcast.
Is a Contract Required?
You can cancel your Xfinity Mobile plan within 30 days of your next billing cycle date and you are only responsible for charges for the current month on your account and any remaining device payments you might have. In the first 30 days, you can cancel and return your device for a full refund, minus a $35 restocking fee. Beyond 30 days, you would be responsible for the restocking fee and any outstanding charges on the device.
Which Devices Can I Use on Xfinity Mobile?
Device selection is probably the biggest downside to Xfinity Mobile, which only sells top flagships. At least the selection of phones at Xfinity is pretty up to date, though. On the iPhone side, you can pick from the iPhone X, iPhone 8 or 8 Plus (including the new [RED] edition), iPhone 7, 7 Plus, iPhone 6s and SE. Android fans can turn to Samsung’s latest flagships including the Galaxy S9 and S9+ and the Note 8; you can opt for last year’s S8 or S8+ to save $120 to $150 off Samsung’s newer models.
The Galaxy S8 and iPhone 7 are among the devices you can use on Xfinity Mobile. (Credit: Sam Rutherford/Tom’s Guide) Budget Android shoppers have three phones to choose from — the $240 LG Stylo 4, the $180 LG K30 and $120 Moto E5 Play.
Device-payment options and flat pricing both compare well to other carriers, so while the need to purchase a new device is inconvenient, you at least have solid options at reasonable prices.
Starting earlier this year, Xfinity started to loosen up on phone selection, allowing iPhone users to bring their own device, provided that it’s unlocked. iPhones dating back to the iPhone 5 are eligible, though you’ll have to visit a brick-and-mortar Xfinity store to take advantage of the BYOD option. Comcast says it’s working on adding a BYOD option for Android users, but for now, that’s not an option.
There are no tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots or other connected devices available through Xfinity Mobile, so if any of those are part of your mobile arsenal you are going to need to find another option.
Is Xfinity Mobile Worth It?
It depends on your situation, but for some customers, Comcast’s mobile service seems like a solid value, especially for single users who want unlimited data. Families would benefit from the multi-line discounts other carriers offer, though if some members of your family use less data, you can benefit from Xfinity Mobile’s by-the-gigabyte pricing. (Verizon offers similar flexibility by letting you mix-and-match different tiers of its unlimited plan.)
Users that can get by on just 1 or 2 GB of data per month would also likely do well on Xfinity Mobile. But as noted above, the more data you use at Xfinity Mobile, the less attractive the service becomes in light of other low-cost wireless options.
Xfinity Mobile is more appealing now that you can bring your own iPhone to the service, though Android users are currently shut out of that option.
You can use Xfinity Mobile when traveling to other countries, though you’ll be charged for talk, text and data. (Rates vary by country.) In other words, international travelers have better options elsewhere.
How Do I Cancel Xfinity Mobile if I Don’t Like It?
Forget about canceling online. You need to call 888-936-4968 to cancel your Xfinity Mobile service. There are no penalties for canceling your service, but you must cancel at least 30 days before the start of a billing cycle to avoid charges for the next month, and you are responsible for any outstanding payments on your devices.
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