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Visible cell phone service review and using an AT&T eSIM

I recently gave the Visible cell phone service a try. I felt that I needed to try a new service as I have been with my incumbent, AT&T, for a long time. I am paying a fair bit each month for the Family Unlimited Elite plan (their top offering) – and for a user in the Bay Area, the current service in my area honestly isn’t really that great in terms of availability, coverage and speed.

I have brought this to the attention of AT&T a number of times, I am always promised an engineer will take a look, and normally I get an email a few days later with the response that no issue is found:

My usual AT&T response when I report I have one or zero network bars in my area.

Enter Visible, a new service provided by Verizon. I have been impressed with Verizon’s coverage and speed in the areas through word of mouth, so I thought this would be a good test of their offerings indirectly.

First I wanted to move my AT&T physical SIM to an eSIM to make way for the new Visible SIM card. AT&T were very helpful here. As I have an iPhone 11 Pro, it was fairly straight forward. I contacted AT&T, they took my details and within 10 minutes they pushed an eSIM to my iPhone. I then removed the physical AT&T SIM card.

I signed up for Visible with ease through their iOS app. They took a few details, and ensured my phone was compatible from me entering my IMEI number. Visible do offer devices for sale and number porting, but I simply wanted a line to try their service. The sign up was easy and straight-forward. There is no credit check process as Visible’s service is pre-paid only.

I signed up to a one-month trial, which was $25 – the normal monthly rate is $40, and this standard pricing gets cheaper the more lines you add through their Party Play program. This isn’t the same as a conventional family plan – you can work together with friends to group lines together (you’re still individually responsible for payments) and get the pricing down to $25 a line per month. You could start a shared plan with friends, family or simply the folks you don’t talk to you rent a house with!

The $25 one month trial I signed up for included unlimited everything – i.e. US texts, data and calls. 4G LTE coverage through Verizon’s network with WiFi calling and a mobile hotspot. My trial included no speed capping. At time of writing, I think this no speed capping still stands and Visible do not cap speeds during busy times.

The Visible physical SIM card

It was easy to sign up through the iOS app and within a couple of days my new SIM card arrived. I inserted it, activated through the Visible iOS app and was ready to go in no time.

It’s interesting setting up two lines on your iPhone and there’s a great article on using a physical and eSIM on the Apple site and it can be found here. I also found out you can have several eSIMs stored on your iPhone, but only use one at a time (along with your physical one)

One thing that would be great for Visible to offer would be an eSIM – I’m sure that option will soon be on its way.

The speed test result for the Visible service over 4G LTE Mountain View, CA.

The trial worked extremely well. I found the coverage and speeds (and customer service) was excellent during my trial. I also had a road trip during that time from the Bay Area, CA to San Diego and found the signal strength and data speeds consistent and super fast for the whole 444 miles. My wife, on AT&T, with an iPhone, less so unfortunately. I was very impressed with the service overall. It’s important to say that there’s no real scientific test here, I’m not anti or pro either provider, I’m just commenting on my real world experience. One night I was streaming Netflix via my phone to a TV in a hotel room (which might have been against the terms of service TBH), but it worked flawlessly.

After the month was finished, I did not renew. However, this was more of a personal decision as Visible did not offer an international roaming service and support for wearable devices (such as the Apple Watch). I would need this in a service and I am sure Visible will be quick to catch up. As I’ve mentioned already, the option to purchase an eSIM and start using immediately rather than wait a few days would be appealing to some users. If Visible could offer roaming, no speed caps, and wearable device support – I’d sign up in a heartbeat.

If you do not need bells and whistles I would thoroughly recommend Visible at this point in time for its network service, customer support and simplicity in billing.

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A cycle ride to the Alpine Inn, Portola Valley, CA