By Joe Paonessa Last Updated: Mar 15, 2020
Unreal Mobile is a wireless brand that was launched by FreedomPop in mid-2018. Although both brands use the same underlying technologies, Unreal Mobile was brought to the market with the intentions of it becoming a more premium brand offering compared to FreedomPop.
Unreal Mobile operates as an MVNO on both the Sprint and AT&T networks. The provider's Sprint based plans do not require the use of VoIP service to place phone calls. FreedomPop's Sprint based plans do require VoIP unless subscribers pay extra to get traditional voice calling.
VoIP voice calling is often criticized by its users as offering sub-par quality compared to non-VoIP based service. Critics say VoIP can induce voice lag where one person speaks and the other person can't hear what has been said without there first being a slight delay in the audio transmission. At its worst, this delay can lead to the two parties talking over one another, when implemented well, the flaw goes relatively unnoticed. Since Unreal Mobile's Sprint based plans do not require the use of VoIP, this is one way the brand is considered to be a little more of a premium offering compared to FreedomPop.
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However, at the moment, Unreal Mobile's AT&T based service plans do require the use of VoIP for phone calls. This review will focus on their AT&T based service which is what I subscribed to for several months. Update: 2/24/2020 - Unreal Mobile no longers requires VoIP for phone calls.
Update 8/12/2019 - Since my initial review of Unreal Mobile, Unreal Mobile has been bought out by Red Pocket Mobile. So subscribers can gradually expect a change in customer support and the overall user experience.
Unreal Mobile's Phone Plans
All of Unreal Mobile's AT&T based plans include unlimited everything with the specified amount of data at 4G LTE data speeds. Here are the plans that the MVNO is currently offering, with the data allotments for each plan highlighted.
- $10/month - 1GB LTE data
- $15/month - 2GB LTE data
- $20/month - 3GB LTE data
- $30/month - 5GB LTE data
- $40/month - 10GB LTE data
Additional LTE data is priced at 2¢/MB. There are many extra service features that Unreal Mobile offers that customers can add to their plans. Available add-ons include the following:
- Speed Boost, $2.99/month - ensures up to 35 Mbps download speeds even when network is congested
- International Phone Number, $4.99/month
- Data Saver, $2.99/month - throttles your data speeds to help control your data usage
- Data Rollover, $3.99/month - roll over up to 500 MB of unused data each month
- Data Rollover Plus, $4.99/month - allows for roll over of up to 1GB of unused data each month
- Ad Blocking, $2.99/month - blocks pop-ups and video ads
- Private VPN for one device, $4.99, two devices $8.99, three devices $9.99
( Disclosure: I was not paid or asked to do this review. However, when applicable, affiliate links are used within the post. Affiliate links help to provide funding to be able to do this review and all future reviews. )
My Long Term Unreal Mobile Trial And Review
Unreal Mobile SIM cards are available at Target, Best Buy, Amazon and of course through the Unreal Mobile website. I purchased my SIM card for $2.99 in store at my local Target. With the SIM card in hand, I opted to buy a plan directly from the Unreal Mobile website. I used a Motorola G4 Plus to do the review.
Account Registration and Line Activation
I activated my account online in late October 2018 by following the instructions contained in the SIM card kit. To my surprise, during the account setup and activation process, I was not given the opportunity to purchase a multi-month plan from Unreal Mobile. Multi-month plans are available at Target, Best Buy and through hidden links on the Unreal Mobile website. The extended plans offer cost savings compared to their pay by the month counterparts. For example, their plan with 5GB of 4G LTE data costs $30 if paid for by the month, but it is available for $20/month if paid for 3 months in advance.
I ended up choosing Unreal Mobile's offering with unlimited talk and text and 3GB of monthly 4G LTE data for $20/month. There was no sales tax added to my purchase. Unreal Mobile had me purchase the plan before I even finished my online account setup. Once my plan was purchased I was immediately given the option to transfer an existing number in or to select a new phone number. I was also emailed an account password to use with the email address I gave to activate my SIM card.
Porting My Number In And Customer Support
Unreal Mobile warns that porting a number can take anywhere from 2-4 days. I wish that were true. The MVNO also recommends that you first get a new number while waiting for your port-in to complete. This is something I highly suggest.
I initially went ahead and tried to port without getting a new number. Unreal Mobile has a drop-down menu where you can select who you are trying to port in from. Some available options included Boost Mobile, Verizon, and Ultra Mobile. Mint Mobile, where I wanted to port out from, was not an option in the drop-down menu so I had to choose other and fill out a form that asked for my Mint Mobile account number and PIN. They also wanted to know the address associated with my Mint Mobile account. I don't believe there is an official address tied to my Mint Mobile account, and I believe, but don't know for sure, that this causes all kinds of problems for Unreal Mobile's porting system.
After completing the port-in form I was greeted by a nice message telling me that my account information was not accurate and that I needed to re-enter it all. When I attempted to re-enter it, the button to click to the next screen to continue the transfer process stopped working. A bug in the Unreal Mobile porting system.
Next, I called Mint Mobile to verify that I had the right account and PIN number. The numbers I had were confirmed to be correct.
I then tried the porting process online again, this time clearing my browser cookies and cache before doing so to try getting the button that you have to click during the transfer process to work again. This remedied the problem and the button worked again. However, my transfer request would not go through. Unreal Mobile's online system simply refused to accept the account, PIN number, and address that I gave them for porting and told me that there was a problem with my transfer and that the account info I gave them was incorrect. Of course, everything I gave them was correct, yet this was only the start of my problems.
Since the online number port-in system wasn't working for me, I had to call on the phone to request the port. Unfortunately, I called on a Sunday, and it turned out they were closed on Sundays, so I had to wait to Monday to call.
On Monday, I called to request a number port. While waiting on hold for a live agent to take my call, I was told several times I could press the number 1 to receive a callback. After waiting for 20 minutes, I finally pressed number 1 for the callback. About 15 minutes later I was called back. So in total, it took about 35 minutes before I got to speak to a live agent. The agent took my info to initiate a port. This was near the end of October.
By 11/2/18, my number hadn't ported in yet. So, I had to call Unreal Mobile again to see what was going on. This time, instead of waiting on hold for someone to answer the phone, I immediately requested a callback. About 20 minutes later got the callback and repeated the whole port-in process with the agent again.
On 11/7/18 my number still hadn't ported in. So I had to call them again. I requested a callback and it took about 11 minutes to receive one this time. For the third time, an agent asked me to give them my Mint Mobile account number and PIN. The agent was just repeating the exact same things the last 2 agents did. Very frustrating for me. I told this to the specialist who insisted they had to try again before they could escalate the situation. The port-in didn't work and so the agent said he would escalate the situation and that my info would be sent to the port-in department. The representative told me it would take 24h-48h to finish and that I would then be contacted by email. Right.....
By 11/19, I still hadn't heard a single thing from Unreal Mobile. I received no emails and my number had not ported in. So I called them yet again. This time with callback, it took 45 minutes to reach a live agent. The agent told me that the porting department had not yet responded to the previous inquiry in regards to the issue at hand. The agent then once again repeated everything to me that the previous agents did, and he wanted to manually attempt to port my number in again. At this point, everything began to feel like a complete waste of time to me. If it were not for the need to do this review, I would have just canceled service and left for another provider.
On November 27th, my number still hadn't ported in yet. I was forced to recharge my Mint Mobile account so I would not lose the number. Utterly ridiculous. I called Unreal Mobile again. In my notes for the review I marked down this was actually the 5th time I called into support. This time it took 14 minutes to speak to someone. The representative then told me they were escalating the situation to "headquarters," whatever that means. I was also told there was still no update from the porting support team. On 11/28 I finally received an email from the company telling me they were looking into the issue. But still, my number did not port.
Fast forward to 1/10/19 and I finally received another email from Unreal Mobile. This is after I hadn't heard from or contacted them in nearly two months. The email said they forwarded the issue to higher management. Once again they asked for my full billing name, account number, PIN etc.
You've got to be kidding me.
I ignored the email. By then I actually had gone out and bought another SIM card to use to review another provider. I had totally given up on Unreal Mobile.
But then it happened.
About a week after receiving the last email, I got another email from Unreal Mobile saying that my number was finally ported. This was almost 3 months after I first started the process. So here we are with the review.
Unreal Mobile's online account dashboard is informative and easy to navigate. You can quickly upgrade or downgrade your plan without struggling to find out how. The dashboard also gives you your usage history by the month and day. You can see a history of who you called, how long you spoke for, how much data you used and more. Above the usage history is a summary of everything that you have consumed for the current billing cycle.
One thing that is unclear to me about the dashboard is that it does give the option to add data rollover to your account starting at $3.99/month. However, my plan got data rollover every month without having to pay that fee. When Unreal Mobile first launched on AT&T, they said the plans came with data rollover. So I'm not sure why they also list that as a paid add-on feature, unless something has changed since I first signed up and it is now a paid feature. The plans shown in the dashboard do not say that they include data rollover either. However, your rollover data allotment is shown to you in the dashboard.
Data Speeds And Consumption
I ran a total of 35 speed tests during my trial. The tests were done on different days of the week at varying times. A majority of the tests were done at my home. I started running them as soon as I got the service, even though I had the number porting fiasco to deal with. If any speed test came up with what seemed like unusually slow speeds, the test was repeated using a different server. If confirmed, the higher of the two speed tests was retained, the other was discarded.
Taking all the described variables into consideration, my download speeds averaged out to 6.75 Mbps, upload 2.89 Mbps with an average ping time of 223 ms. Download speeds had a high of 10.5 Mbps and a low of 2.2 Mbps. Upload speeds topped out at 4.2 Mbps with a low of 0.1 Mbps. Ping times had a high of 255 ms with a low of 189 ms. Overall though, most upload speed tests were consistently recorded at about 3 Mbps. There was more variation in the download speed tests.
As usual, I have to qualify my speed tests here. Speed tests with any provider will vary based on your location and how congested the network is, and may also be impacted by what phone you are using. So you should not expect to get the same performance I got. You may get better or worse results than me if you use the service.
For real-world usage, I had no problems streaming any audio from Pandora, Amazon Music or Spotify. I was even able to stream Youtube videos with the quality sent to 1080p without major issue. On occasion, the Youtube videos would buffer and stutter a bit at the beginning before they played smoothly. Mobile hotspot is not allowed with Unreal Mobile's GSM plans and so I could not test the feature out. It would not activate on my phone when I tried to activate it.
In total, I used about 3.3GB of data for the review. Most of that was over the course of the last month and a half, after my number had finally ported in.
Voice Calls And Text Messaging
Usage was a little light in these two areas due in large part to the amount of time it took for my number to port. I had grown accustomed to not using the phone as much while waiting for the port to happen. Still, it was enough to learn what I needed to know about the service.
During the course of the review, I logged a combined 133 minutes of calls including outgoing and incoming. That's par for the course as far as my reviews go, as I generally don't talk a lot on the phone. I sent and received roughly 120 combined text and MMS messages. This was significantly less than what I would normally use for a review, for the reasons just outlined.
Unfortunately, phone calls proved to be an issue for Unreal Mobile. I mentioned earlier in the review that people often complain that VoIP phone service is unreliable and laggy. Those are things I typically don't experience with Google Voice, but it was a problem with Unreal Mobile.
My first two Unreal Mobile phone calls over the MVNO's partner LTE network did not go very well. At first, things did go smoothly. The call quality was just as good as any other non-HD voice call that I've ever had. It sounded as if I was talking over a traditional voice cellular network. However, after about 10 minutes into one of the calls, the voice on the other line went completely silent, yet I was still connected to the call. And it was a call to a line that I do have semi-regular contact with, and something that I'd never had occur before. I ended up having to hang up the phone to try again. On the callback, the same thing occurred. The phone call was fine for a few minutes, then the audio suddenly got garbled and all I could hear was random syllables and static. This was a business call, and unfortunately, two failures was a bit too much for a business call so I had to hang up the phone and make a Skype call instead. The Skype call had no issues.
These were not one time events to just one number. I experienced the same issues and more at later dates to other numbers. On one of my other business calls, the call audio quality was fine over the LTE network. However, instead of having garbled audio, I experienced two dropped calls to the same number over a span of ten minutes. This again forced me to place a call another way. This time I called from another line and number altogether. I was able to complete the call without issues using the other service. Update: 2/24/2020 - Unreal Mobile no longers requires VoIP for phone calls, so new subscribers should not experience the issues I had.
Not everything was bad with the calls though. I had a couple of calls using my Unreal Mobile number over WiFi that were without issue. Those calls lasted about 40 minutes combined.
The rest of the calls I placed were over either WiFi or LTE and were without issue. Those calls all lasted a maximum of 3-5 minutes. Perhaps those calls were too short to have any issues pop up.
As far as text messages go, I didn't have any complaints with the limited sample size I worked with. As far as I know, every message I sent was received, and any message intended for me was received.
You have to use Unreal Mobile's app to send and receive text messages. In some cases you'll get big time compression through that type of service if you try to send MMS picture messages. That's what happened in the past when FreedomPop's global SIM was reviewed. I did see a similar thing happen with Unreal Mobile. When I sent a 5MB in size picture to my T-Mobile line it was reduced to just 0.3MB. Conversely, when I sent a picture that was 3MB in size from my T-Mobile line to Unreal Mobile it was received at 0.9MB. That indicates to me that Unreal Mobile uses a lot of compression when MMS picture messages are sent through its system.
My experience with Unreal Mobile didn't go quite as expected and it left me frustrated at times. It took about 10.5 weeks for my number to get ported into Unreal Mobile. That is simply unacceptable. If you are considering porting your number into Unreal Mobile you need to be aware that it may take an extraordinary amount of time for the port to actually happen. Unfortunately, I'm not the only one to have experienced this port-in problem. I have heard from some of my readers that they went through the exact same thing.
Call quality for me was unreliable. Between the port-in problem and the call quality issues I had, it would be hard for me to recommend the service. However, if you just want data and to be on the AT&T network, it is probably worth a try. Unreal Mobile offers really cheap data for use on the AT&T network. The amount of data you get for the price beats that offered by a majority of the other AT&T MVNOs that are on the market. If Unreal Mobile can improve their call quality issues and number porting problems it would definitely be worth a try. If Google Voice calling works well for you, Unreal Mobile may also be a good provider for you to use that with instead of Unreal Mobile's VoIP service. Of course, the call quality issues can also be mitigated by using Unreal Mobile on the Sprint network where VoIP calling is not required for use.
- Cheap data on the AT&T network
- Excellent user account dashboard
- Calling and texting works over WiFi and LTE network
- Poor call quality
- Number porting may take an exceptionally long time