PSA: Verizon and unlimited data plans

I don’t write a lot (if any) tech posts here, but I’ve been meaning to start–and now is a pretty good time to start. Verizon is ending unlimited data plans for upgraders in the near future. (They’ve been unavailable to new customers for a year, but as of right now, you can still upgrade and keep it if you already have it.) They’re moving to tiered data plans, which will cap your data and charge you a premium for overages. In short, a terrible deal. No specific expiration date on unlimited data yet, but if you have an unlimited 3G plan right now, you’re going to want to jump on the unlimited 4G ship before it’s sailed forever. (If you’re devoted to iPhone, you may be out of luck, though.) Here are some ways to keep your unlimited and upgrade to a new 4G phone:

  • If your phone is available for a discounted upgrade, do it now. Get yourself a good 4G phone that you’ll be satisfied with for a while. The Motorola DROID RAZR or HTC Rezound are good options; also, the HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE is coming soon. All of these have (or will have) the newest version of Android: Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. Do some research to ensure whatever phone you get will have this.
  • If your phone won’t be available for a discounted upgrade for a while, buy one of Verizon’s certified pre-owned phones online. They have some pretty good 4G phones, some as low as $50 with a new two-year contract.
  • See if Verizon will offer you an early upgrade. They send out occasional promotions. I don’t know exactly when or why they offer these; maybe a few months before you’re due for an upgrade you’ll get an e-mail promotion. Don’t hold your breath for this, though.
  • Buy a new phone at full price. It’s the most expensive option, but if you really want a certain phone and you can afford it, you can always do this without having to sign a new contract.
  • Switch to Sprint. They’re the only major cell phone carrier still offering unlimited 4G plans to new customers. Verizon has a much better network though, so if you can keep them, I would.

Point being: upgrade to 4G now if you can. This is basically your last chance. Verizon still has good customer service despite this awful move, and they have the best network for both voice and data. I hate Verizon for this, but it is what it is.