Thinking of trying out Verizon's network but aren't necessarily ready to switch to the carrier? If you have a recent iPhone, there's a new way to do it now.
Visible, one of Verizon's prepaid brands, announced on Thursday that it will offer 15-day free trials of its network. Similar to T-Mobile's updated Test Drive program from last year, the Visible trial takes advantage of eSIM which is a virtual SIM card that can live alongside your current cell phone provider in your existing phone. Once set up, this will allow you to compare Visible's network (and by extension, Verizon's) to your current provider's right from the iPhone you're already using.
As with T-Mobile's program, Visible's trial is iPhone-only to start and your phone needs to be unlocked and not tied to a carrier or be financed on a carrier installment or upgrade program. AT&T and T-Mobile, for example, require that you pay off whatever remaining balance is owed before either will unlock it, something that could be a potential roadblock for those on either provider that are considering a switch.
Assuming you have an unlocked device, eligible iPhone models include the iPhone 11, iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lines, 2020 iPhone SE and the iPhone XR, XS and XS Max.
You can set up the trial by downloading the Visible app onto your iPhone which will guide you through the process of setting up the eSIM. The company has plans for a similar trial for Android devices, but it would not provide timing for when that might launch.
Once set up you will still get to use your regular phone and apps. Also, because your regular phone line isn't being paused you will still be able to receive calls and messages. In the Cellular section of the iPhone's Settings app, you can choose to set the Visible line as your main data plan, allowing you to see how that service compares to what you already have when doing everyday tasks on your phone.
The iPhone will also show the signal strength of both networks in the upper right corner, allowing you to quickly and easily compare coverage between providers.
During the free trial you will have unlimited talk, text and data as well as unlimited hotspot (with download speeds for the latter capped at 5 Mbps). You don't need to enter a credit card to signup, with the program automatically ending after your 15 days are up. If you decide to switch to Visible you can either keep the number from the trial or switch over your own number from your old carrier.
Unlike Verizon's main namesake wireless service, Visible starts at a cheaper $40 per month for a single line of unlimited talk, text and data. That price can drop to as low as $25 per month through its "Party Pay" system (Visible's version of a family plan that doesn't need to be with actual family members and everyone is billed separately), so long as you have four or more people in the group.
Visible does include 5G access as well, but with some caveats. Download speeds are capped at 200 Mbps and Visible users are not yet able to tap into Verizon's upcoming faster C-band 5G network that is set to go live on Jan. 19, though the company tells CNET to "stay tuned for a future launch."