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Compare Tablet & Data-Only Plans

Looking for a data-only plan for your tablet or phone? We've made it simple to compare data plans. Find the one that's best for you.

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Choosing a Data-Only or Tablet Plan

Not everyone needs a phone plan with voice minutes and text messaging...

If you’re looking for an alternative to full-featured phone plans, data-only and tablet plans are an excellent choice.

But there’s still plenty to consider to avoid overpaying and find a good plan for your needs...

So how do you know which plan to choose and what to look for?

Consider these questions to help jumpstart your hunt for the perfect plan.

1. What Kind of Device Do You Want to Connect?

While data-only and tablet plans might function similarly, they often have different rules on how you can use them.

For example, many carriers will not allow you to use a tablet plan SIM as the second SIM in your phone or in a 4G hotspot device. While it might work at first, your service provider could terminate your service at any time.

On the other hand, most data-only SIMs will work with your iPad, hotspot, or phone.

By knowing which devices you’d like to use your plan with, you can avoid any complications. Be sure to check out the terms of service before you sign up.

2. Which Networks Are Your Device Compatible With?

While most tablets are unlocked, you might still find your service options limited by which networks your device can connect to -- especially if you’re looking for a second data-only SIM for your phone.

If you’re not sure which networks your devices support, you can check our phone compatibility guide for information on the frequencies used by each carrier.

Our cell phone and tablet reviews also list frequencies supported by each device.

By comparing which frequencies the networks use to the frequencies supported by your phone or tablet, you can quickly determine which service providers you can use.

3. Do You Already Have Mobile Phone Service?

If you already have a phone service plan and like the company you are with, most carriers will let you tack on data-only and tablet plans at a substantial discount over adding a full-featured line of service to your account.

So be sure to contact your existing service provider to see how any promotions they offer compare so you don’t miss any deals.

This can also help to simplify billing by keeping everyone on a single account. You’ll just pay for your data-only or tablet plan alongside your regular monthly fees.

If you don't already have phone service, data-only plans can also function as an affordable alternative to traditional mobile phone service.

Just keep in mind, you won't be able to place calls using your phone’s default calling feature or receive standard SMS or MMS messages. However, with the sheer number of phone call apps and messaging apps available today, you can replace a lot of this functionality very easily.

4. How Much Data Do You Need?

Data-only and tablet plans are pretty simple. There are much fewer considerations when compared to picking a phone service plan.

It’s mostly about how much data you need.

Not sure how much you’ll use?

Consider these points from our guide, “How Much Smartphone Data Do I Need?

In short, anything that isn’t stored in its entirety on your phone, isn’t a phone call or a text, might require data. This list can give you an idea of how common items stack up for data usage:

  • 1 Email w/o Attachments = 5 kilobytes (KB) to 25KB
  • 1 Email w/ Photos Attached = 350KB to 5MB
  • 1 Email w/ Office Documents Attached = 300 to 800KB
  • 1 Email w/o Attachments = 5 kilobytes (KB) to 25KB
  • 1 Email w/ Photos Attached = 350KB to 5MB
  • 1 Email w/ Office Documents Attached = 300 to 800KB
  • 1 Web Page with Standard Images = 150KB to 3MB
  • 1 Minute of Streaming Audio = 500KB to 2MB
  • 1 Image Uploaded to Social Media = 1MB to 2MB
  • 1 Minute of Streaming Video = 2MB to 10MB
  • 1 App or Game Download = 4MB to 100MB

To put it another way, each of these activities on their own would use 1GB of data:

  • Receive 500 to 1250 emails with typical sized (800KB to 2MB) PDF attachments
  • Download 166 basic apps
  • Download 16 basic game apps
  • Download 2 high-quality, 3D games
  • Stream music with high quality for up to 7 to 14 hours depending on settings
  • Stream Netflix for 3 hours at Low Quality
  • Stream Netflix for 1.4 hours at Medium Quality
  • Stream Netflix for 20 minutes at High Quality
  • Upload 500 to 2000 images to Instagram
  • Browse images on Facebook for 51 hours
  • Use Google Maps Navigation for approximately 100 hours
  • Send 34,000 WhatsApp text messages
  • Video Chat on Skype for 4 hours
  • Watch 68 quick videos on YouTube at SD quality

Based on these benchmarks, we think the ideal plan for most people starts around 2GB.

If you like to play games on the go or stream a lot of music or video, consider a larger data allotment.

Also, if you’re looking to make the most of a new data-only or tablet plan, don’t forget to check our data saving guide.

It features 27 tips to help you minimize your data use, enjoy your data more, and spend less.

5. Do You Need Tethering?

If you’re looking for a plan to use with a 4G hotspot device, this is irrelevant.

However, if you want to use your phone or tablet to share data with other devices using your data-only plan, you’ll want to be careful of the plan you choose.

Some service providers allow you to tether, some slow speeds when tethering, and others block it entirely.

Our how-to guide on tethering covers the policies for most service providers so you don’t have to spend all afternoon digging through support pages or terms of service to find an option to suit your needs.

6. Is Monthly or Prepaid Service Better for You?

If you don’t plan on using the data often or have a few issues on your credit report, a prepaid plan might be the more affordable approach.

However, if you regularly use data for streaming, checking social media, or working on the go, a monthly phone plan is likely the cheaper option.


Data-only and tablet plans are a great way to enjoy your mobile devices on the go without the costs of a full-featured plan.

They can also supplement your existing phone plan if your phone supports dual SIMs.

Finding a good plan is all about considering your needs, including:

  • What device you want to connect
  • If you already have mobile phone service
  • What services your device is compatible with
  • How much data you need
  • Whether you need tethering
  • How you’d like to pay for your data-only or tablet plan