Tello Try-Out Review: A Month With This No-Fee Cell Phone Provider


tello refurbished phone
New(er) refurbished HTC One phone from Tello

This past month, our friends at Tello offered me the chance to test out their service for free along with one of their phones. After doing my initial overview of their offerings earlier this year – I thought it was a good idea to give it a fair shake.

My current service is with Republic Wireless (which I have written about previously) and have been pleased with the service – most notably due to the low-cost monthly bill that runs about $12-15/month.

Tello and Republic Wireless are both MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) players. This means they “lease” access from the bigger networks out there and in-turn offer it to customers at cheaper rates. While the service is not premium, it is close and allows us thrifty types to save more each month on our cell phone bills.

A rougher start, but…

I’ve heard stories from friends and acquaintances about their initial encounter with their significant others and how some didn’t even “feel anything” (ie: had no spark). And even others, where their first date went horribly – and yet they somehow ended up together. Most call this “fate”.

I share that because this is how things started out with my Tello trial run.

Tello originally offered me a nice refurbished iPhone and their $29 plan to start (which in hindsight, I probably should have taken) – but I turned it down and opted for a package that was similar to the current plan and phone I have with Republic Wireless. In a way, I wanted to compare apples to apples.

I picked a refurbed HTC One M8 phone and used their build-your-own-plan to get $10 service (that included 100 minutes, unlimited text, 200 MB of data). I received the phone soon enough – but it didn’t work. Turns out it was defective and I ended up sending it back for another.

I received the 2nd phone in good time and again, started to have some issues with it. This time, it was related to the SIM card – to which Tello immediately sent out a replacement.

Finally, the new card worked and I had the phone / service up and running. While all this was a bit frustrating at first – I have to say the customer service was pleasant to work with and were able to answer my questions / assist with getting the phone up and running in due time. I’ve heard this from some of our readers too – that Tello’s service is second to none.

Check out my initial look at Tello from earlier this year that gives a better rundown of their offerings / service.


A month with Tello

After I got up and running – I was pleased with the service and it performed as expected. Although I did opt for the “thrifty” plan of $10 / month – it met my needs.

I do wish I was able to utilize roaming data while out and about. And, this is the one drawback of using Tello.

Since I live in the city, rarely use minutes on the cell phone – and have access to WiFi for much of the day, limited data and minutes are not a problem for me. What I appreciate about Tello is the ability to build-your-own plan that fits your life. If you need more data, you can get that; more minutes – you can add that as well. Everything is customizable.

I also liked the HTC phone (and wish I could keep it over my Motorolla). 

build your own cell phone plan
Tello’s Build-Your-Own-Plan is great for those looking for flexibility

Other pros and cons

What I appreciated most about Tello is for what I needed from the cell phone – the plan provided it. And, even better than my current provider: Republic Wireless. The texts seems to go through faster than with RW (especially at work) and phone calls were clearer and more stable.

But Tello will not be for everyone. For those who travel a lot and need the roaming data – I would look elsewhere. Or, if you live in rural areas where Sprint coverage is spotty, try another provider. Though Tello has let me know they are planning to add national roaming in their plans (More details could be found on their coverage page.) It’s also important to note that you can use Tello’s My Tello app to call over WiFi where roaming is not available.

It’s really hard to complain with the service when you are paying a fraction of what most pay for their cell phone plans and it meets your needs. It’s definitely worth a try if you are looking for the flexibility in plans,  no fees and low-cost.

Learn more about Tello

This article has been brought to you by our friends at Tello. All opinions expressed are our own.



Ease of use




      Customer Support







            • Low cost
            • Unlimited text / data while on WiFi
            • 4G
            • App
            • Build-your-own-plan


            • No roaming
            • Initial setup can be confusing
            • No international service

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