Visible's app-based phone plan offers customers unlimited calling, text, and high-speed on-device data, with unlimited mobile hotspot data for a single device at a time throttled to 5mbps.
All Visible data usage is always subject to network management. Video is reduced to 480p resolution as well (DVD quality).
Visible includes calling and texting to Canada, Mexico, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico but no data roaming in those locations.
Currently Available Plans:
- Unlimited: $40/month - single line
- Party Pay - Introduced in October 2019, you get a $5/month discount for each person that joins your party, up to 4 members. You can have more than 4 people in your party, but you can get discounts for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th party members. Each person pays their own bill.
- Carrier Networks Used: Verizon
- Carrier Relationship: Direct subsidiary
- Plan Types Available: Phone
- Device Types Permitted: Compatible smartphone models
- Unlimited: Yes
- High-Speed Mobile Hotspot Use: Yes, for one device at a time and throttled to 5Mbps
- Throttling: No (except for hotspot data)
- Network Management: Always
- Video Streaming Resolution: 480p
- 5G Access: Yes, with a 5G compatible device and in an area where 5G service is available.
- eSIM: Yes
- Device Purchase Required: No
- Plan Period: Monthly
- International Roaming: None
- Domestic Roaming: None
- Data Roll Over: None
- Overage Charges: None
- Lines permitted per account: One
- Plan is activated and terminated via the Visible app.
- Referral discount - each time you refer a new member, you get one month of service for $5.
News, Videos & Status
- Visible Makes Changes to Party Pay, Referral Codes, and International Calling/Texting Posted on: February 9, 2021
- Visible Enables 5G Support - Verizon's 5G Network For As Little As $25/mo Posted on: December 15, 2020
- Cellular Carriers Add Extra Data in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic Posted on: March 24, 2020
- Verizon Launches Yahoo!Mobile - Based on Visible - Unlimited Data for $39.99 Posted on: March 11, 2020
- Visible Introduces Party Pay - Reducing Cost of Unlimited Verizon Plan to As Low as $25/month Posted on: October 31, 2019
- Visible Removes Speed Cap from $40/month Unlimited Verizon Plan - Mobile Hotspot Remains Throttled at 5Mbps Posted on: June 26, 2019
- Verizon Based Visible $40/mo Smartphone Plan Enables Android Compatibility, Hotspot Use Official Posted on: January 24, 2019
Potential Alternatives to Consider:
Some of our TOP PICK Cellular Data Plans to also consider:
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Review Content Below
- Thoughts & Analysis
- Video Review
- Deep Dive
- Testing Notes
- SIM Swapping
- Customer Service
- Member Exclusive Notes
Thoughts & Analysis
- Cheap, unlimited data option - As low as $25/month with Party Pay
- Full speed data on device ("limited time only" as of June 2019)
- Verizon 5G and 4G LTE Native coverage area
- Mobile hotspot use included, capped to 5 Mbps (enforcement is variable)
- Reportedly easy start-up and termination of the plan
- No activation fees
- Requires shipment of a physical Visible SIM card first (free)
- All mobile hotspot data is throttled to a maximum of 5mbps speed
- Higher ping times
- Always subject to network management
- Hotspot is limited to a single device connection at a time
- Phone lines only - no tablet or Jetpack option
- Can not purchase refill cards
- No access to Verizon's roaming partners or 3G coverage map
Visible is an affordable unlimited smartphone plan, and a great way to get access to Verizon's network. But it comes with downsides like always on network management, higher ping times and restrictions on mobile hotspot use. For high bandwidth reliable needs - is not likely to be a primary data plan of a mobile internet arsenal. But with understanding the downsides of this plan, it can be a fit as a back-up source of data.
Our review of the Visible plan for use as a home internet replacement for RVers and Cruisers (Oct 1, 2019):
We've been tracking Visible's service since it was released in May of 2018. We've seen reports of excitement, and frustration, with the service.
Visible remains shrouded in reports of higher latency than native Verizon service.
In good signal conditions, ping times on postpaid Verizon tend to be in the 40-80ms range. Because Visible traffic is routed through their own servers first, there's extra ping time. Visible's FAQ states that they "expect network to device (round-trip) latency to be about 150 milliseconds."
And, being constantly subject to network management - prioritized behind postpaid Verizon customers - we've seen folks who reportedly use the service within populated areas be frustrated by unusable data service.
There have also been reports of dropped calls, TXT messages, and blips in data.
During our April 2019 testing, all Visible data was subject to a 5mbps throttle cap. As of June 2019, 'limited time' high-speed on-device data is available on the plan, although mobile hotspot data is still throttled to 5mbps. For the first couple of months there was no actual throttling of mobile hotspot data, but starting in late September we did start to notice intermittent signs of it. And as of November 2020 - there are now consistent reports of hard throttling when using personal mobile hotspot.
This review has been updated to reflect the Visible plan since the lifting of the speed caps.
Getting the plan was a bit of a struggle and more difficult than it should be.
We ordered the free SIM card online and got the initial verification e-mails. After the SIM didn't arrive after a week, we logged into the Visible website to be greeted with a pop-up that said there was a problem and we needed to initiate a chat session.
A supervisor confirmed the order details (name, data, shipping address) and said the SIM should be on the way. A few days later, it wasn't - and we had to repeat the process.
Throughout the entire time, customer service could not tell us what the problem was and we were never proactively contacted about there being potential issues.
We suspect the root issue was our credit card on file being closed do to an unrelated suspicious transaction, or perhaps having a different shipping address from billing address? Hopefully this was an isolated issue that others won't encounter.
The SIM did finally arrive after about two weeks after ordered, and activation was super easy from that point - using the Visible app on our compatible smartphone.
We discontinued the plan after the first month of service and our initial review, and we easily re-activated it online in June to test the plan without the speed throttling in place. We have kept the plan in service since, regularly testing for signs of the mobile hotspot cap being enforced - it wasn't until late September 2019 that saw any indication of it.
A year later, in November 2020 - there are widespread reports of the 5 Mbps hotspot cap being enforced.
Here is a single site quick test showing the differences in speeds we've gotten across 4 different Verizon plans - our Visible plan, Verizon Prepaid Smartphone (capped data at 15GB), Verizon pUDP (the unlimited prepaid Jetpack plan), and Verizon gUDP (legacy postpaid unlimited plan).
Here are the speed results (download/upload/ping) - taken on 9/24/2019 in Grand Rivers, KY:
|Plan / Device||On Device: Down / Upload / Ping||Hotspot: Down / Upload / Ping|
iPhone XS Max
|36.4 / 6.98 / 110ms||5.25 / 4.76 / 109ms
(one reading at: 41.55 / 13.64 / 115 ms)
|Verizon Prepaid (15GB)
|45.5 / 10.9 / 50ms||43.4 / 5.1 / 59ms|
|---||76.2 / 13.4 / 57ms|
|---||105 / 13.7 / 60ms|
Visible is definitely lower priority than Verizon postpaid plans and even their direct prepaid plans. But definitely usable speeds in this location.
When testing mobile hotspot on Visible, we initially saw nearly full speeds. However, by the second test we consistently saw near 5 Mbps hard throttling. We tested several times on device to confirm that higher speeds were staying consistent.
It does seem that Visible is enforcing the mobile hotspot speed cap more consistently, and as of November 2020 there are multiple reports of the mobile hotspot cap being enforced.
The ping time is also considerable and does cause a noticeable short stutter delay in loading of requests. For regularly web surfing, this results in a delay when loading new pages. But once the load has started the pages tend to load fairly well. Certainly usable for many tasks - but for those with latency dependent tasks this plan may not be suitable.
We tested video streaming with odd results. On YouTube, we were able to stream at 1080p, but with some buffering. On Netflix, we were seeing 288p resolution. Testing on Fast.com frequently resulting in speeds around 1.5-2.4 Mbps - indicating a harder throttle to video service.
The mobile hotspot feature works, but we are not seeing the 1 device limitation from our iPhone - as we have been able to connect multiple devices at a time.
If the phone you use does have the 1 device hotspot limitation, you can use a mobile router to share the connection to get around it.
Use in Other Devices
Does the SIM card work in other devices?
We did try swapping the Visible SIM into the 8800L hotspot, and the 8800L showed no service with the SIM card. We also tried it multiple cellular embedded routers - this plan is meant for the smartphone models supported by Visible.
We tried putting the SIM into another iPhone that did not have the Visible App installed, and it worked fine.
Visible began teasing eSIM in Fall 2020.
We noted chatter of a 'soft-launch' of eSIM for iPhones in early December.
Initially, there is no conversion from those on current plans with physical SIMs to an eSIM. In addition, in order to activate a new plan on an eSIM, you must contact a customer service rep.
Customer Service Frustrations
We've had to contact customer service multiple times in setting up this plan and then afterward, and while chat is readily accessible and reps friendly, they seem to have limited ability to help. That they could give us no feedback as to why our original order was in limbo was frustrating.
After receiving the SIM card, we noticed a number of phone calls (from a variety of numbers) coming through on the number assigned. We asked Visible if they could either change our number or block calls. They were unable to do so. The only solution they offered was to cancel our current account with no refund and activate a new line of service.
So do be aware that if you end up with a new phone number and it's been active before - this could be a problem.
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You can purchase a device directly from Visible, or bring your own compatible device.
Visible offers promo codes for a discount off the first month of service:
Want to join a Party? There's a Subreddit created just for posting and/or finding open parties.
Finding the right plans for your needs is no easy task - quite simply mobile travelers using cellular data as their primary way online is not how most carriers have designed their plans. Many of us want plans that provide copious amounts of data.
Understanding the different plan terms (like network management, throttling, hotspot data, video resolution) is key to determining if a plan will meet your needs or not. You also need plans that are suitable for use in the device you want to use them in - such as smartphone, mobile hotspot device or cellular embedded router.
To learn more about shopping for dataplans, check out these key guides:
Here's a video going over the 'limits' on so-called 'unlimited' data plans:
But a data plan alone will not keep you online. For more education on assembling a cellular centric mobile internet setup, head on over to our collection of guides to help with selecting gear and your signal enhancing strategy: