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FreedomPop Review…

  • March 8, 2018 – FreedomPop has changed its mobile broadband plans since we originally published this review in 2015. We’ve updated this page accordingly to reflect FreedomPop’s most recent offerings, which include add-on features like Speed Boost and Data Rollover.

FreedomPop is an affordable carrier that runs on Sprint and AT&T’s networks, with widest coverage in the South and Mideast. It’s the perfect solution if you’re looking for 4G mobile broadband internet on a budget. Its speeds aren’t going to be too impressive alongside carriers like Verizon, but for the frugal, there’s literally nothing cheaper. FreedomPop’s $0 per month plan offers up 200MB per month if using a FreedomPop SIM card, or 500MB per month for FreedomPop phones or hotspots. You’ll only need to pay for the equipment — available on FreedomPop’s website, starting at $40 for mobile hotspots and ranging from a $35 Kyocera Torques phone to an $850 iPhone 7s. You can also use your own phone as long as it’s either a locked Sprint phone, or an unlocked GSM phone (meaning it requires a SIM card). If you’re moving over from another carrier, the transfer fee will be $10.

FreedomPop’s data limits may be a bit lower than some other mobile broadband providers, but with add-ons and programs like Data Rollover and Data Top-Up, hitting your base data cap doesn’t mean you’re out until next month. If you live to stream videos and music, you’ll hit your data cap quickly, so consistently fierce data users should check out a carrier like Cricket Wireless, which offers unlimited data plans. While FreedomPop does allow you to purchase or earn additional data, it just isn’t the same as having access to a completely unlimited plan.

If you’re shopping for family plans, know that FreedomPop doesn’t offer any group discounts, but you do earn extra data each month by referring friends to FreedomPop. For each friend that you refer, you get an additional 50MB of free data for every month that your friend keeps their account with FreedomPop — which can add up to a lot of bonus data, especially if you’re already on the free monthly plan.

The Claim

FreedomPop’s most unique offering is its $0 per month data plan, which offers 200MB for FreedomPop SIM cards and 500MB per month for phones and hotspots. Since T-Mobile eliminated their “Free Data for Life” iPad plan in 2017, FreedomPop is the only carrier that offers a free mobile broadband plan. It doesn’t claim to have the fastest speeds or most reliable connections — to be expected, given the low prices. But we wanted to dive deep and see if FreedomPop really offered the best value plans across the board.

Is It True?

It depends on what you’re looking for. It’s hard to beat $0 per month, but costs will start averaging out with other carriers once you’re looking at the 2GB and above plans. FreedomPop can save you a lot of money if you’re smart about it: if you carefully track your data usage to avoid going over, make sure your device has a strong connection, and pick wisely among the add-on options, you can get quite a lot without paying too much.

Considering that the 2-4GB plans aren’t significantly cheaper than equivalent plans from larger carriers that come with more features, stronger connections, and faster speeds, we’re inclined to recommend FreedomPop mainly for the truly minimal user, or those looking for a cheap supplement to their main data plan.

A Closer Look at Features

FreedomPop has a few impressively unique features among mobile broadband carriers: they offer a free plan (literally $0 per month), you can earn extra data by referring your friends, and you can also share data with your friends once they’ve joined.

Price $0-34.99 per month (base rate with no add-ons)
Max Speeds 1Mbps for free plans, 5Mbps for paid plans, and 25Mbps with Speed Boost (extra charge)
In Business Since 2011
Best For People who want the cheapest plans possible
Not For People who want generous data caps
Standout Features $0/month 200-500MB plan; earn 50MB of data for each friend referred; share up to 100MB between friends
Terms No contracts; month-to-month service you can downgrade, upgrade, or cancel anytime.
Fees $10 transfer fee between carriers
States/Territories Served 48 states
Data Throttling Customers are allotted a monthly data allowance based on their service plan. Data allowances range from 200MB to 4GB.

FreedomPop Plans

FreedomPop offers five mobile data plans, from $0-$34.99 per month: whether you only use broadband once in a blue moon or need to catch up on your favorite show every day, there’s a plan for you. The number and kind of plans available to you depend on your device capabilities: you’ll need to have a FreedomPop-compatible phone, SIM card, Hotspot, or USB to qualify. We’ve focused on the phone plans below, but be sure to check your equipment is compatible if you’re interested in the SIM card, Hotspot, or USB plans.

Plan Base Price Data/Speed Caps* Maximum Additional Data
Basic 200 $0/month 500MB / 1Mbps 750MB
Premium 1GB $19.99/month 1GB / 5Mbps 1GB
Premium 2GB $24.99/month 2GB / 5Mbps 1GB
Premium 3GB $29.99/month 3GB / 5Mbps 1GB
Premium 4GB $34.99/month 4GB / 5Mbps 1GB

*Information valid as of 1/15/18

For extra-light data users: Basic 200

Talk is cheap, but it doesn’t get better than free — literally $0 per month, for 500MB of data and speeds of 1mbps. We’ll be honest: that’s not a lot. It’s not fast enough to do much video or music streaming, and it’s just enough to surf the web for a little over 13 hours, post 50 photos to social media, and send 500 emails. But when our monthly bill is a solid $0, we’re not complaining.

That means it’s best for users who partake only in light web surfing and very occasional streaming, and want to avoid paying for more data than they’ll ever use. All the same, if you’re worried you might go a little over your data limit, it costs $15 to top up 750MB of data, and $4.99 to boost your speed (up to 25Mbps, depending on your connection strength). That makes this plan a good choice for people who are still figuring out exactly how much data they need — you’ll be free to toggle your data limit until you find a comfortable range, and can upgrade accordingly if needed.

For light data users: Premium 1GB and Premium 2GB

If you frequently surf the web, post on social media, and occasionally stream short videos or music clips, the 1GB and 2GB per month plans will likely work for you. You’ll be able to stream non-HD video for 45-90 minutes, listen to music for 7-14 hours, surf the web for 27-54 hours, post 100-200 photos to social media, and send/receive 1,000-2,000 emails at speeds up to 5Mbps. These plans are best for people who aren’t huge data crunchers, but still want to be able to stream some music and video.

If you’re not sure that’s enough, you’ll still be able to top up 1GB of data for $15 (up to seven times per month), and pay for Speed Boost if your speeds aren’t quite up to scratch. But be aware those top up costs can add up quickly. We recommend considering the 4GB data plan if you’re one the fence: it’ll give you double the data allowance for just about $10 more per month.

For moderate data users: Premium 3GB and Premium 4GB

Frankly, FreedomPop’s prices for its 3GB and 4GB plans aren’t phenomenal — for the same price, you can get a higher data cap from carriers like Cricket Wireless. But the kicker is the add-ons and special features: you can refer friends and share data with them, and purchase Speed Boost and Data Rollover.

Even at the base data allowance, the 3GB and 4GB plans allow you do to quite a lot with your broadband: You’ll be able to stream standard video for 2-3 hours, listen to music for 21-28 hours, surf the web for 81-108 hours, post 300-400 photos to social media, and send/receive 3,000-4,000 emails at speeds up to 5Mbps. If you know you’re not interested in the add-ons, we’d recommend shopping elsewhere to get more for your money, but if you’re interested in being able to receive, use, and store data as flexibly as possible, these plans might be right for you.

FreedomPop Features

No matter which plan you choose, you’ll be able to apply a variety of add-on features. We’ve read the fine print and broken down the mobile broadband options here:

Freedom Friends: This is FreedomPop’s referral-rewards system. You’ll earn 50MB per month for each friend that joins up, with a limit of 500MB added on per month (in other words, you can only get rewards for referring up to 10 friends). That’s only a maximum of 0.5GB additional data per month, but if you’re on the free Basic 500 plan and successfully refer 10 friends to FreedomPop, you can have 1GB of data per month for free. You can also share data with your friends as long as both your accounts are active: up to 100MB per friend, with a maximum of 500MB sent out or received per person.

Data Top-Up: When you exceed your data limit, you’ll automatically be charged $15 to your account to cover additional data usage. If you’re on the 500MB plan, the $15 will cover an additional 750MBs. If you’re on a plan with over 1GB base data, the $15 Top-Up will allow for an extra 1GB of data usage. You’re limited to seven top-ups per month ($105 worth of Top-Ups total, though at that point, we’d just recommend you upgrade your plan). You can disable top-ups by changing your account settings, but you’ll need at least $5 in your account before you can do so. And if you cancel Top-Up, your account will be suspended when you hit your data limit. Note that the Top-Up only allows for additional data usage — if you run out of minutes or messaging, you won’t be able to place any more calls or send texts for that month unless you upgrade your plan.

Data Rollover: Your data won’t automatically roll over. While that’s just a dead-end truth you have to accept with other carriers, with FreedomPop you can purchase a data rollover option. The regular Rollover plan costs $3.99 per month and lets you roll over up to 500MB of unused data per month, and store a maximum of 20GB unused data total. The Rollover Plus plan costs $6.99 per month and lets you roll over 1GB per month, and store up to 40GB of data. That means you don’t need to worry as much about wasting money on data you’ll never use — if you don’t hit your data limit one month, you can still get your money’s worth. Unfortunately, you can’t rollover leftover data from Freedom Friends, and if you cancel Data Rollover, you lose any stored data. But if you tend to always be just under your data limit, it might be a smart way to get the most for your money.

Speed Boost: FreedomPop’s speeds aren’t great. They’re on par with other cheap carriers like Cricket Wireless — you’ll be able to surf the web and send messages just fine, but streaming videos sans buffering may be a challenge at 5mbps. If speed is a must for you, you can purchase the Speed Boost add-on: It costs $4.99 per month and can boost your speeds up to 25 mbps, depending on your signal strength.

What Others Are Saying

Tom’s Guide praised FreedomPop’s customer service quality and low prices, but pointed out that it’s not a great fit for everyone: if you are using your own device, you may experience some connection issues. They warn that for those who prioritize connection quality above all else, it may be wiser to consider pricier but more reliable carriers like Verizon. And that anyone who’s considering FreedomPop should expect some frustration while navigating the various pricing tiers: they’ll vary widely (and not always rationally) depending on your device and expected data usage. But “if your wireless needs are very limited — a few calls and texts here and some light data use there” — trying FreedomPop’s affordable plans may be well worth your time.

EnGadget praised FreedomPop’s ease of use and flexibility when testing its mobile broadband service on a portable router. However, they noted that if you’re on the free plan, you’ll need to be very attentive to avoid accumulating data overuse fees: if you’re using a FreedomPop router, Engadget recommends making your device “forget” the router when not in use, to make sure it “doesn’t auto-connect and start sucking down data”. If you can manage to keep tabs on your FreedomPop data use, the free plan can be a nice supplement to your main data plan at a bare-minimum cost.

The Competition

Cricket Wireless: Cricket is best known for its prepaid group plans — and if you’re shopping for a family that uses more than 5GB per month, Cricket offers better value than FreedomPop with its group discount. You’ll get $10 off for the second line added, and $20 off for each additional line, up to five lines total. But if you’re only shopping for yourself, or are confident that your family can maintain a lower data cap, FreedomPop may be the better choice.

Sprint: If you’re looking for generous data caps at the lowest prices, Sprint may be a good bet. Through March 2019, you can enroll up to five unlimited lines for $100, which is by far the best value unlimited data plan available at the moment. If you’re looking for affordable data for your family, but want more data than FreedomPop can offer, consider Sprint.

The Bottom Line

FreedomPop is best for users who want flexible, customizable, and affordable mobile broadband offerings: It’s the only carrier with a free monthly data plan. Though the data caps and max speeds aren’t too impressive, you have the option of purchasing affordable add-ons that let you top-up your data, rollover unused data, and boost your speeds. In addition, the Freedom Friends program allows you to earn data from referring friends, and share data with them (even if you have different plans), which means it’s easy to make sure no data is wasted. If you want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for buck and never spending more than you need, FreedomPop may be a great fit for you.

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