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Rastor
Jun 2, 2001



Introduction
In the USA (sorry, this will be a very US-centric thread), the world of mobile phones is controlled by the 4 major carriers: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. For years their system has been postpaid plans on 2-year contracts with the price of devices subsidized by extra padding in the price of plans.

But, let’s say...



You're po'? Have terrible credit? Can't sign a contract? All of the above?
Or maybe you're just tired of bein' enslaved to the Man and his 2-year contracts?

In the past, non-contract, prepaid plans existed but didn’t offer data for smartphones. But within the last 2 years or so smartphone options have begun to appear. And that’s what this thread is about.


General tips / advice
• If you’re planning to use an Android phone, seriously consider porting your phone number to Google Voice. Then you can send/receive texts and even make phone calls without using your text/voice allotments.
To make phone calls without using voice minutes: get the GrooVe IP Lite app (free) to make phone calls over Wifi, or get the GrooVe IP app ($5) to make calls over Wifi or 4G. Note that you will need a really good 4G connection to not sound like crap.

• Most of these prepaid operators are MVNOs. Basically that means they don’t own their own towers, instead they piggyback on the networks of big-name carriers such as AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile.

• These operators pay a cheap price for access to the big carriers’ mobile towers and pass the savings on to you, but the downside is that the big carriers prioritize this traffic at a lower priority. That increases the possibility of service outages and/or text messaging delays, etc.

• You won’t get the benefit of roaming onto other networks. For example, if your carrier is using Sprint towers, you won’t be able to roam onto Verizon’s network. That may mean a reduced coverage area, sometimes significantly so. Oh, and you can forget about roaming outside the USA.

• These plans frequently lack advanced features, such as call redirection/forwarding.

• Be ready for 'Unlimited' (with the quotes around it). Unlike carriers such as AT&T and Verizon, prepaid plans are often unlimited in that they don't charge additional fees once you go over some data cap. However, they'll throttle your speeds once you hit the secret cap, or in some cases tell you to take a hike completely (after all, you don’t have a contract with them).

• Coverage maps are sometimes horrible lies, so input your zip code to the shopping section of the websites. Generally they won't try to sell you a phone if you don't have real coverage.

• The prepaid market is vibrant, with a rainbow of different plans to choose from. To keep things simple, I’m going to assume goons want to use significant amounts of data, and therefore will only list plans which offer at least 250MB of data per month, at full 3G/4G speeds.

• If you don't understand some of the terminology used in this thread, consult the FAQ.


My God this OP is huge, just tell me what to do
If you have/want an iPhone, you should pretty much just read the Straight Talk (AT&T) section (though if you're willing to live with slower speeds it's also possible to get an iPhone on some CDMA brands such as Page Plus, Virgin Mobile USA, and Cricket Wireless).
If you crave an Android instead, your best bets are Straight Talk (AT&T), T-Mobile, and possibly Virgin Mobile USA.


The gritty details

On AT&T towers:


(click to check your coverage)

AT&T’s network is the 2nd largest in the USA. It’s a GSM/HSDPA network. They are beginning to roll out LTE service, but it’s not available to prepaid users.


Straight Talk (AT&T)


Straight Talk is another brand of the same company that does TracFone / Net10 / SIMple Mobile. They are a bit unique among these brands, selling service using a choice of any of the 4 big networks' towers.

Phones:
They sell one low-end Android Phone for use on AT&T's network, the ZTE Merit ($99).
You can also use any unlocked GSM phone which is compatible with AT&T’s frequencies. Note that this includes any unlocked (or AT&T-locked) iPhone! (except the Verizon-only iPhone).

Prefer Android? Google is selling the GSM/HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus on the Play store for $349 w/ warranty:
https://play.google.com/store/devic...laxy_nexus_hspa

Plans:
Monthly Price/Voice Minutes/Text Messages/Data Allowance
$45/Unlimited/Unlimited/Unlimited (get a warning text after about 1-2GB, potentially get cut off if you keep exceeding the cap)

How it works:
Either buy the ZTE Merit from their website, or, buy a GSM phone from wherever and buy an activation kit ($15) from http://www.straighttalksim.com/, then when you receive it activate it and configure your phone (Instructions, iPhone Instructions).
NOTE to iPhone users: you won't get MMS service unless you're willing to jailbreak.
EDIT: The above iPhone Instructions wiki link claims to have an MMS procedure that will work on the 4S without jailbreaking, if you have another non-AT&T SIM to swap with such as a T-Mobile prepaid SIM.
EDIT2: and this more complicated procedure claims to work on the iPhone 4 (non-S).

Be sure to order the correct sim size for your phone (i.e., for an iPhone 4/4S or a Nokia Windows Phone get a microSIM, otherwise get a standard SIM).

Summary:
This is the second cheapest option if you want to have an iPhone on a prepaid plan, and probably the best. It’s also a great choice for you Android fans, if you want AT&T’s coverage and/or a device which doesn’t support T-Mobile’s 3G frequencies.

Just remember not to use more than 1-2GB data per month. Or 100MB per day. People who did have reported getting angry phone calls and even being cut off completely.


H2O Wireless


AT&T towers, fixed data limits, and international calling rates.

Phones:
Any unlocked GSM phone which is compatible with AT&T’s frequencies, including a variety of Android phones (including the Galaxy Nexus) and (GSM) iPhones.

Plans:
Monthly Price/Voice Minutes/Text Messages/Data Allowance
$50/Unlimited/Unlimited/0.5GB
$60/Unlimited/Unlimited/2GB (Throttled after 0.5GB)

How it works:
Buy your phone from wherever. Buy an activation kit ($10) from https://www.h2owirelessnow.com/page...shop&category=W, then when you receive it activate it and configure your phone with their app.

Summary:
This is where you'd go if you need to roll on AT&T's towers and want to pay $50/month to have a definite data cap of 0.5GB, rather than a "so-called unlimited but maybe they tell me to go to hell because I streamed too many Justin Bieber videos" data cap.


Red Pocket Mobile


AT&T towers, fixed data limits, and international calling rates.

Phones:
Any unlocked GSM phone which is compatible with AT&T’s frequencies, including a variety of Android phones (including the Galaxy Nexus) and (GSM) iPhones.

Plans:
Monthly Price/Voice Minutes/Text Messages/Data Allowance
$50/Unlimited/Unlimited/0.25GB
$60/Unlimited/Unlimited/2GB

How it works:
Buy your phone from wherever. Buy an activation kit ($20) from http://goredpocket.com/buy/, then when you receive it activate it and configure your phone with their app.

Summary:
This is where you'd go if you need to roll on AT&T's towers and want to pay $60/month to have a definite data cap of 2GB, rather than a "so-called unlimited but maybe they tell me to go to hell because I streamed Rebecca Black's mega-hit 'Friday' too many times" data cap.


On T-Mobile towers:


(click to check your coverage)

Of the Big 4 US Carrier networks, T-Mobile is 4th. It’s a GSM/HSDPA network. Though a smaller network, where they do have coverage, it tends to be quite good. T-Mobile markets their HSDPA network as being 4G, and though it’s not as fast as 4G LTE, it’s probably the fastest you can get of all the choices listed here (yes, that includes Sprint's 4G WiMax).

Frequencies note: T-Mobile uses a set of frequencies known as Advanced Wireless Services (AWS), 1700/2100 MHz, for their 3G/4G service. Many GSM phones do NOT support these frequencies, including but not limited to the iPhone and most phones sold in Europe. T-Mobile is working on rolling out (much more common) 1900 MHz support but has not done so yet.


Straight Talk (T-Mobile)


Well as I mentioned Straight Talk also sells service on T-Mobile’s towers.

Phones:
Any unlocked GSM phone which is compatible with T-Mobile’s frequencies. Note that this includes high-end Google Nexus Android devices such as the Nexus S (i9020T) and the Galaxy Nexus.
Google is selling the GSM/HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus on the Play store for $349 w/ warranty:
https://play.google.com/store/devic...laxy_nexus_hspa

Plans:
Monthly Price/Voice Minutes/Text Messages/Data Allowance
$45/Unlimited/Unlimited/Unlimited (but don’t exceed about 1-2GB)

How it works:
Buy your phone from wherever. Buy an activation kit ($15) from http://www.straighttalksim.com/, then when you receive it activate it and configure your phone (Instructions).

Summary:
$45/month is a pretty reasonable price for unlimited talking and texting. This option is good for those who need to do a lot of those.


T-Mobile


Unlike Sprint, T-Mobile isn’t too proud to put their own name on prepaid service on their network.

Phones:
T-Mobile sells some of their phones (generally mid- and low-range ones) in retail boxes which include a prepaid service activation kit. Of these, the current recommendation seems to be the Samsung Galaxy Exhibit (formerly Exhibit II) 4G ($180).
You can also use any unlocked (or T-Mobile locked) GSM phone which is compatible with T-Mobile’s frequencies. Note that this includes high-end Google Nexus Android devices such as the Nexus S (i9020T) and the Galaxy Nexus (Google is selling the GSM/HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus on the Play store for $349 w/ warranty:
https://play.google.com/store/devic...laxy_nexus_hspa)

Plans:
Monthly Price/Voice Minutes/Text Messages/Data Allowance
$30/100/Unlimited/Unlimited (throttled after 5GB)
$60/Unlimited/Unlimited/Unlimited (throttled after 2GB)
$70/Unlimited/Unlimited/Unlimited (throttled after 5GB)

How it works:
Either buy a T-Mobile packaged prepaid phone, or buy your phone from wherever and buy an activation kit ($1) from http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/...-Activation-Kit, then when you receive it activate it online or over the phone.
You can arrange for automatic payments or buy refill cards anywhere prepaid refill cards are sold.

Summary:
$30/month for unlimited texts and 5GB data is an amazing deal for anybody who either has such poor social skills they have no friends to call (i.e. goons), or is so young they don’t even understand the concept of using a phone to talk instead of texting.


On Sprint towers:


(click to check your coverage)

Sprint is the #3 carrier in the USA. Their network is based on EVDO/CDMA, much like Verizon. They also have two 4G networks, a WiMax network in collaboration with Clear on a crappy frequency which doesn't penetrate buildings well, and a 4G LTE network (not available via prepaid). They won’t put the Sprint brand on prepaid smartphone service but they own multiple prepaid brands and also sell their service through other brands.


Straight Talk (Sprint)


And as mentioned Straight Talk also sells service on Sprint’s towers. In addition to their website, they sell some Sprint Android phones at Wal-Mart stores.

Phones:
Historically, Straight Talk’s Android phones on Sprint have been low-end, nothing in particular we’d recommend. However, they recently added the higher-range LG Optimus Black ($329), so maybe that’s changing. Sadly, no 4G WiMax support to be found on anything here.

Plans:
Monthly Price/Voice Minutes/Text Messages/Data Allowance
$45/Unlimited/Unlimited/Unlimited (not throttled?)

How it works:
Buy a Straight Talk Android phone from their website or a Wal-Mart. All the Android phones they sell themselves (except the Samsung Galaxy Proclaim and the ZTE Merit) are on the Sprint network.

Summary:
This option used to seem better; now being on Sprint's network with only their 3G coverage doesn't seem so hot.


Boost Mobile


Boost Mobile is a Sprint brand, known for marketing to a young, “urban” audience (including such gimmicks as taking over an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force).

Phones:
Of the 3G phones, the least awful are probably the ZTE Warp($199) and the LG Marquee($249).
For 4G WiMax service, there's the HTC EVO Design 4G ($299) with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).

Plans:
Monthly Price/Voice Minutes/Text Messages/Data Allowance
$55/Unlimited/Unlimited/Unlimited (not throttled?)
The plans are the same for both 3G and 4G WiMax service.
“Shrinkage” means they will reduce your monthly rate by $5 every 6 months as long as you pay your bill on time, down to $40/month after 18 months.

How it works:
Order a phone from a Boost Mobile dealer or their website.

Summary:
If you think you’ll need lots of voice minutes, and you’ll stick with it for more than 6 months, the “Shrinkage” feature might make this the service for you, especially if you like the looks of the EVO Design 4G.


Virgin Mobile USA


Another Sprint brand, Virgin Mobile USA was one of the first prepaid brands to offer reasonably-priced smartphone plans. Though it operates on Sprint’s towers, Virgin Mobile USA uses separate datacenters for data and texting, datacenters which have gone down a few times.

Phones:
DO NOT get the Samsung Intercept, it is a very very bad phone.
In fact you should probably just choose one of their two Android 4.0 phones:
If you can live with 3G there is the HTC One V ($199).
For 4G WiMax there is the HTC EVO V 4G ($299), a renamed EVO 3D featuring the Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) update.
You can buy the iPhone, but you will pay full retail price, and it will be locked to Virgin Mobile USA - you will NOT be able to use it internationally or on another American carrier.

Plans:
Monthly Price/Voice Minutes/Text Messages/Data Allowance
$35/300/Unlimited/Unlimited (throttled after 2.5GB) (4G not throttled?)
$45/1200/Unlimited/Unlimited (throttled after 2.5GB) (4G not throttled?)
$55/Unlimited/Unlimited/Unlimited (throttled after 2.5GB) (4G not throttled?)
The plans are the same for both 3G and 4G WiMax service.

How it works:
Order a phone from a Virgin Mobile dealer or their website.

Summary:
Virgin Mobile is one of the cheaper prepaid choices. They only have a few phones to choose from, but if you need a few more minutes than the T-Mobile 100 minutes plan, or if T-Mobile coverage sucks in your area, this could be a good choice, especially if you like the looks of the HTC EVO V 4G.


PrepaYd Wireless


Because Y Pay More. Their pun, not mine.

Phones:
Their 3G phones tend to be of the "low-end specs and a physical keyboard for texting" variety.
For 4G WiMax service, choices include the Samsung Conquer ($299) and HTC EVO Shift ($349), which has a slide-out keyboard.

Plans:
Monthly Price/Voice Minutes/Text Messages/Data Allowance
$50/Unlimited/Unlimited/Unlimited (3G only)
$60/Unlimited/Unlimited/Unlimited (3G and 4G WiMax services)

How it works:
Order a phone from their website.

Summary:
They were among the first to offer prepaid plans for Sprint WiMax service, but once Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA begin offering that service on 5/31 I think they'll need to change their phone/plan prices to stay competitive.


Ting
by Tucows

Yes that Tucows, the shareware download website. They've launched a super nerdy (they have at least one confirmed goon employee) prepaid brand on Sprint's network.

Phones:
They actually have a surprisingly high-end selection of Sprint's 4G phones, all the way up to the Samsung Galaxy SII ($485).

Plans:
Ting has a uniquely customizable system of plans; these are just a few examples.
Monthly Price/Voice Minutes/Text Messages/Data Allowance
$38/100/1000/1GB
$47/500/2000/1GB
$65/500/2000/2GB
The plans are the same for both 3G and 4G WiMax service.
You can add additional lines which use the same pool of minutes/texts/data for just $6/month each.

How it works:
Order a phone from their website.

Summary:
A very unique entry into the prepaid market and well worth a look. As far as I know the only prepaid brand with family / multi-line options.


Voyager Mobile


Like Straight Talk, but with 4G WiMax and a tiny bit cheaper. Literally operated by a college student and his buddies, this option is only available in 30 states (but the coverage is the full nationwide Sprint network).

Phones:
It's a seemingly random selection of Sprint phones, with the names not even changed.

Plans:
Monthly Price/Voice Minutes/Text Messages/Data Allowance
$39+tax/Unlimited/Unlimited/Unlimited
The plans are the same for both 3G and 4G WiMax service.

How it works:
Order a phone from their website.

Summary:
If you were thinking Sprint coverage, but need more minutes and/or some alternate phone choices to what Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA are offering, this might be worth a look if you're in one of the states where they've begun offering phones / service.


On Verizon towers:


(click to check your coverage - be sure to select prepaid option)

The Big Daddy #1 carrier in the USA, Verizon has the most subscribers and the largest coverage. Their network is based on EVDO/CDMA, and it basically covers every part of the continental United States that isn't a nuclear weapons proving ground. They also have a 4G LTE network, which they sure as hell are not letting any prepaid scrubs anywhere near.


Straight Talk (Verizon)


Straight Talk recently added a Verizon Android phone to their selection, meaning they now have service on all 4 major US carriers and can evolve their mew into a mewtwo.

Phones:
There is only one choice, the Samsung Galaxy Proclaim ($179). It's not a very remarkable choice. But, at least it's not running Froyo.

Plans:
Monthly Price/Voice Minutes/Text Messages/Data Allowance
$45/Unlimited/Unlimited/Unlimited (surely not really unlimited, best to stay under 1GB or so)

How it works:
Buy that specific phone (Samsung Galaxy Proclaim) from Straight Talk.

Summary:
If you are so remote that only Verizon has coverage, and you want a prepaid smartphone plan for less than $50/month, this is your only option. Remember to check your dosimeter regularly.


Page Plus


Page Plus is an odd duck, basically you reactivate a used Verizon phone and pay Page Plus for the service. They've been doing this for dumbphones for quite a while and just recently introduced a plan with data.

Phones:
Basically any Verizon 3G phone. Yes this includes the (Verizon-compatible) iPhones. It needs to be a Verizon phone. It needs to have a good ESN. It can't be a Verizon prepaid phone (yes, I really am saying you cannot activate a Verizon prepaid phone on this prepaid service on Verizon).

Plans:
Monthly Price/Voice Minutes/Text Messages/Data Allowance
$55/Unlimited/Unlimited/2GB

How it works:
As I understand it, you basically call Page Plus, enter some special codes on your phone, and hope it works.

Summary:
If you wanted to activate your used Droid 3 but didn't want to start a new service contract with Verizon, well, here you go.


On MetroPCS towers:


Next in line below the Big 4, MetroPCS operates the 5th largest network in the USA. It’s mostly 1xEVDO, that is, “2G”. Bizarrely, they have no 3G coverage at all; instead, they have started a 4G LTE deployment which is still small (shown on the map). Reportedly their 4G network rarely exceeds 3G speeds.


MetroPCS


MetroPCS has been aggressively advertising nationwide. So what do they have to offer?

Phones:
You have to be careful, because MetroPCS’s most heavily advertised phones are lower than low-end. We’re talking about Android phones with the screen resolution of a TI-83 calculator.
But the LG Connect 4G ($319) or LG Esteem ($319) might be worth a look.

Plans:
Monthly Price/Voice Minutes/Text Messages/Data Allowance
$40/Unlimited/Unlimited/0.1GB *
$50/Unlimited/Unlimited/1GB *
$60/Unlimited/Unlimited/Unlimited (includes either Rhapsody music service or MetroSTUDIO video on demand service)

* Data allowance is for “multimedia streaming”, you are not metered for “web”

How it works:
Order a phone from a MetroPCS dealer or their website.

Summary:
Definitely the strangest choice, with their no 3G and their plans that differentiate streaming data from other data. Ultimately I think other options on this page are better.


On US Cellular towers:


US Cellular is the 6th-largest network, operating mainly in the flyover states. Alltel was once an underdog nationwide contender until it was carved into tiny pieces by Verizon and AT&T in 2008. When their powers combine, you have U Prepaid.


U-Prepaid


Previously an Alltel prepaid brand, this has now been brought back to life.

Phones:
Sadly, the currently offered smartphones are very low-end. Perhaps not trying to undercut US Cellular too much? (US Cellular also offers prepaid billing, but at a premium price).

Plans:
Monthly Price/Voice Minutes/Text Messages/Data Allowance
$50/Unlimited/Unlimited/2GB

How it works:
Buy a U Prepaid phone from their website or a Wal-Mart.

Summary:
If the phone selection gets any better, this might be an option for those in the juicy center of the USA. As it is now I would hold off.


Other things that exist but I didn't bother to go into
• SIMple Mobile resells T-Mobile service, but their plans either throttle to terrible speeds ($40/month) or are no cheaper than T-Mobile themselves ($60/month).
• Cricket Wireless (a brand of Leap Wireless) used to have a tiny network (7th largest network in the USA), however in 2010 they made a deal with Sprint to use their towers, which brought their coverage up to acceptable levels. Too bad their phone choices and plans are still terrible. (edit: OK the iPhone isn't terrible but I'm still not putting Cricket Wireless back)
• AT&T Sells prepaid smartphone service on their network under the "GoPhone" brand, but the plans aren't very attractive ($75/Unlimited/Unlimited/1GB).
• Verizon Sells prepaid smartphone service on their network, but there's only one bad phone choice and the plans aren't very attractive ($80/Unlimited/Unlimited/1GB).



Finally, thanks mixitwithblop for being OP of the previous thread.

Rastor fucked around with this message at 23:37 on Jul 17, 2012

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Naffer
Oct 26, 2004

Not a good chemist

Are you so poor that every penny you save goes to feed your family? There's a way to eke out a bit more savings!
You can buy your prepaid refills from http://www.callingmart.com/ that sells many refill codes at a discount to face value and without charging sales tax. If you look around a bit and check their twitter, you can find ~5% off coupon codes as well.
For example: A $50 T-mobile refill may cost you $53 at T-mobile's site after tax. If you buy your $50 pin through callingmart with a coupon code, it might cost you $47.50!

Word of caution though, word is that they've had their database leaked once, so make an account with a unique (not reused password) and pay through paypal or with a card that you keep an eye on just in case their security doesn't hold up.

FreshShoez
Oct 15, 2009


Does anyone have experience with Pageplus Cellular? It piggy backs on the Verizon network and offers a $55/mo for Unlimited/Unlimited/1GB plan. I've heard good things from 1 person locally, but I wanted a little extra input. FYI, I'd be using it around the St Louis area.

Rastor
Jun 2, 2001



I've heard some good things about Page Plus, didn't know they were offering data now.

If their website starts working, I'll add them to the OP.


Edit: I looked into it and the 1GB data plan was originally a leap year promotion which has gotten extended past Feb. 29 but still may not last into 2013. The uncertainty of whether you will be able to continue to get a reasonable amount of data, combined with the trickiness of getting a smartphone activated on Page Plus, and the fact that they aren't price competitive, leads me to be a bit leery for now. So I won't be adding a Verizon/Page Plus Cellular section at this time.

If there starts to be reliable documentation of people activating androids on PPC and a promise of long-term support for a healthy data allowance, let me know and I'll reconsider that decision.

Edit 2: OK reconsidered, Page Plus is now in.

Rastor fucked around with this message at 16:33 on May 10, 2012

Deep Winter
Mar 26, 2010


I've been on the At&t PrePaid Go-Phone plan on my Captivate, and the 500mb data-cap is killing me. I could pay for a line, but I don't have the $500 deposit to be able to get it. My straighttalk sim and unlimited card arrives today. I hope it works.

JerseyMonkey
Jul 1, 2007



Nice thread. I recently switched to T-Mobile's $30 a month plan and bought an unlocked Galaxy Nexus. Service is actually much better than my Sprint plan was.

The process to activate the SIM was rather troublesome, mostly because T-Mobile apparently didn't have any phone numbers for my area code. The web interface is somewhat funky but I don't plan to ever look at it unless I have issues with my auto-payments.

nigga crab pollock
Mar 26, 2010

by Lowtax


I (regrettably?) bought the Motorola Triumph back in august and it's been fine ever since, but i guess it's going to inevitably be be brought up by someone. I'm laying it out so someone doesn't have to watch a 15 minute long review made by someone in denial - it's probably not going to make you want to kill yourself but i don't suggest purchasing it.

One problem - it's bad at doing mobile data and therefore bad at battery life. 3g speeds are ok but even blazing 3g speeds aren't fast enough to do anything with but the real problem is battery life, which lasts a day if you're willing to spend minimal effort managing it and lasts like 10 hours if you are retarded but for android that's honestly just middlin' tier.

Screen is crisp and good, Game/movie battery life is good, camera is good but won't replace a real one(good at macro but probably not compared to other phone cameras), processor/gpu is powerful enough to do pretty much everything you will ever need (yes that includes n64 emulation), and even though its only got 512mb of ram its never a problem (i'm not being apologetic). Also the speakers are really good for phone speakers and the haptic feedback is less tinny than other phones

The real question - If you're gonna spend $300 on a phone why not buy a real phone without problems on a real carrier? If for some reason (NOT BEING CHEAP) you can't buy a smartphone on contract but you absolutely must have the best android experience you can get for the cheapest price then i guess this phone does that?

MC Hawking
Apr 27, 2004

by VideoGames


Fun Shoe

.

MC Hawking fucked around with this message at 16:15 on Jun 15, 2014

delfin
Dec 5, 2003

SNATTER'S ALIVE?!?!


quote:

$30/month for unlimited texts and 5GB data is an amazing deal for anybody who either has such poor social skills they have no friends to call (i.e. goons), or is so young they don’t even understand the concept of using a phone to talk instead of texting.

I CAN BE THAT FRIENDLESS GOON. Just not that young.

I have an old T-Mobile pay-as-you-go plan, so I'm assuming my path of choice would be:

* Snag the $199 Exhibit II 4G from Amazon or Walmart for $199, rather than from Best Buy at $249 or from T-Mobile directly at $329 are you SERIOUS?
* Take it and my old phone to the T-Mobile shop at the local mall
* Explain that I'd like to go from Pay-as-you-Go on my RIZR Z3 to Monthly4G on the Exhibit and keep my existing phone number
* Glare menacingly at them and grumble DO THIS THING FOR ME
* Use the ~$40 I have on my account from refilling the RIZR and add on some top-off cards to keep the Exhibit going
* Enjoy mobile internet and Google GPS through most of the mid-atlantic region.
* Root the Exhibit to get rid of assorted bloatware.

Anything sound off in the above?

BrainParasite
Jan 24, 2003




Mister Snips posted:

The real question - If you're gonna spend $300 on a phone why not buy a real phone without problems on a real carrier? If for some reason (NOT BEING CHEAP) you can't buy a smartphone on contract but you absolutely must have the best android experience you can get for the cheapest price then i guess this phone does that?

The QC problems with this phone/provider are also kind of huge. I'm currently on my fourth phone. The first stopped being recognized by USB, the second and third stopped turning on. Number four has been restarting by itself, so it doesn't look good.

Two and three came from Virgin Mobile. Two was a NIB replacement. Three was a refurb. I don't think they actually do any refurb on the phones they get in, because number three came with a crack in the screen. I actually got to executive customer service at Sprint after the third one died. I was offered nothing besides another "refurb". They didn't even try offering free minutes or a different phone. Executive customer service did direct me to Motorola.

Motorola has started replacing broken Triumphs recently. My last refurb is from there. It's not dead yet, but it's starting to act like the others right before they broke. Supposedly, if this one breaks, there are some other options beyond another stupid Triumph.

Some people have no problem with the phone, but unless you are ok with the possibility of getting a replacement every three months, look elsewhere.

Rastor
Jun 2, 2001



OK for those posting about how lovely the Triumph is, I edited the OP to warn people not to buy it.

delfin posted:

Anything sound off in the above?
One big one: When T-Mobile introduced the $30/5GB plan they put a big giant "NEW ACTIVATIONS ONLY" flag on it in the system.

So if you're a current customer you need to either
(A) Find a T-Mobile agent who is both willing to help you, and capable of working around the system,
or
(B) Give up your current account/phone number and do a new activation (as I said in the OP, porting your current phone number to Google Voice is a good option).

MC Hawking
Apr 27, 2004

by VideoGames


Fun Shoe

.

MC Hawking fucked around with this message at 16:14 on Jun 15, 2014

berzerker
Aug 18, 2004
"If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all."

If I wanted a Galaxy Nexus, am I correct that these are my main options?

1) Pay ~$490 for an unlocked phone, then $30/month on TMobile (minutes don't matter because I use Google Voice VOIP most of the time anyway), plus the pain of TMobile coverage in the SF Bay Area, which I hear is pretty bad, OR

2) Pay $99 on Amazonwireless for the phone, then $55/month (joining my mom's family plan) on Verizon with a 2-year contract

In this case, after two years I'd pay $1210 with plan 1, or $1419 with plan 2. Presumably plan 1 would have higher resale value for the phone, plus I could upgrade whenever.

Does that sound right? Am I overlooking anything?

Ciabatta
Aug 20, 2008

by Y Kant Ozma Post


berzerker posted:

If I wanted a Galaxy Nexus, am I correct that these are my main options?

1) Pay ~$490 for an unlocked phone, then $30/month on TMobile (minutes don't matter because I use Google Voice VOIP most of the time anyway), plus the pain of TMobile coverage in the SF Bay Area, which I hear is pretty bad, OR

2) Pay $99 on Amazonwireless for the phone, then $55/month (joining my mom's family plan) on Verizon with a 2-year contract

In this case, after two years I'd pay $1210 with plan 1, or $1419 with plan 2. Presumably plan 1 would have higher resale value for the phone, plus I could upgrade whenever.

Does that sound right? Am I overlooking anything?

I'm not sure what speeds you'll see on T-Mobile, but Verizon LTE is pretty nice. You also may get better warranty/support buying a domestic phone, though I'm not sure how big a difference it ends up being if you have a problem after the return window.

Rastor
Jun 2, 2001



I'm on the T-Mobile plan in the Bay Area, and quite happy with it. The 4G drops out in some parts of the East Bay but overall coverage is good. Speeds about 6-8mbps, so not Verizon LTE, but more than acceptable.

Cabbages and Kings
Aug 25, 2004

shall we be trotting home again?



I like my triumph.

Has a good community of ROMs behind it, too.

Mister Fister
May 17, 2008


spengler posted:

I like my triumph.

Has a good community of ROMs behind it, too.

Me too, i guess i was lucky in that i've had no problems with mine...

I haven't checked out the ROM's yet though, is there a good stable ICS ROM that has everything working yet?

Cabbages and Kings
Aug 25, 2004

shall we be trotting home again?



Mister Fister posted:

I haven't checked out the ROM's yet though, is there a good stable ICS ROM that has everything working yet?

No camera support; the only working camera software is the froyo blob from the stock image, which is what all the existing ROMs are using. People have been loving with it, but that's been going on for a while, so it's a little hard to say if someone's going to have a eureka moment or not. There's a 'froyocream sandwich' rom (what I'm running now, actually) which is 2.x + ICS launcher + various other pieces of ICS + ICS theme.

The CM9/ICS rom is pretty nice other than that, but obviously camera support is a dealbreaker for a lot of people.

http://androidforums.com/triumph-all-things-root/

nigga crab pollock
Mar 26, 2010

by Lowtax


Mister Fister posted:

Me too, i guess i was lucky in that i've had no problems with mine...

I haven't checked out the ROM's yet though, is there a good stable ICS ROM that has everything working yet?

The cm7 rom greatly improves the phone and I'm really not in support of blindly flashing custom firmwares. It's got some minor problems (not being apologetic here either) but it makes the phone more stable and perform a lot better.

Zero VGS
Aug 16, 2002
"It has gunfights and shit!"


Lipstick Apathy

Tmobile totally hosed me up today. I had a whole $30 sitting in my account for the autorenew of the Walmart plan like I have done for the past 4 months. I was no where near using up my minutes. So today when things are supposed to roll over, they simply don't, and my internet is blocked. I use the "My Account" app to see what the hell is happening. The $30 is still sitting there. I hit "Change My Plan" and tried to reselect the same plan to force it through. Apparently I picked the poo poo $30 plan with no data. I immediately called 611 and they said they'd change the plan back free of charge within two hours, I got a text message saying so, but it's still hosed.

Gonna check tomorrow morning; this blows.

oxsnard
Oct 8, 2003

DONT LISTEN TO ME WHEN I SAY ANYTHING ABOUT POLLS OR POLLING


Was gonna do the T-Mobile monthly 4g but ended up on my inlaws family plan. I have an extra new T-Mobile sim card that is free to the first goon who quotes this (and will actually use it)

Ass Catchcum
Dec 21, 2008
I REALLY NEED TO SHUT THE FUCK UP FOREVER.

oxsnard posted:

Was gonna do the T-Mobile monthly 4g but ended up on my inlaws family plan. I have an extra new T-Mobile sim card that is free to the first goon who quotes this (and will actually use it)

Thank ya

pryorwins at gmail dot com

oxsnard
Oct 8, 2003

DONT LISTEN TO ME WHEN I SAY ANYTHING ABOUT POLLS OR POLLING


rear end Catchcum posted:

Thank ya

pryorwins at gmail dot com

Email sent

Rooster Brooster
Mar 30, 2001

Maybe it doesn't really matter anymore.

So, what's my best option if I'm looking to do the T-Mobile $30 plan as far as Android phones in the $200-250 range? I'd prefer something that has or is guaranteed to get ICS (and maybe future updates), or has good hacker/ROM support. I see the Nexus S might be a good choice, if I can happen to find one used on ebay, but is there anything else?

Question 2, is there a good tutorial/thread/website if I want to move my existing cell phone number to Google voice, and to then integrate that with my new T-Mobile number (as per the OP)? Is it as simple as "sign up for google voice, dummy", or am I gonna spend a couple hours or days getting it running correctly?

Rastor
Jun 2, 2001



Used Nexus S (be sure it has T-Mobile's frequencies) is really the only phone with your qualifications/requirements.

Porting to Google Voice, is basically as simple as "sign up for google voice, dummy". As with all number ports there is a pretty good chance you'll have missed/redirected things over the next 24 hours, so don't do it right before you need to apply for a job or something.

The only caveats/notes:
* Don't open the Messaging app for your texting, open the Google Voice app.
* By default Voice will send you SMS/email copies of your texts/voicemails, but if you have the Voice app installed you'll get notifications from that, so turn those options off to avoid double notification.
* T-Mobile's prepaid service doesn't support call redirection, so you can't redirect a declined call to Google Voice. For your call screening needs you can either press volume down to silence the ringer and ignore it until Google Voice goes to voicemail, or if you decline the call it will go to T-Mobile's voicemail.

Boll Weevil
Feb 21, 2007

Do work.

If I buy one of those SIMs for StraightTalk online, do I need to get the $45 card with it to activate or can I just use my credit card when I activate?

Probably doing the StraightTalk iPhone thing for a few months until the next iPhone comes out. Don't want to get stuck with a 4S.

Rooster Brooster
Mar 30, 2001

Maybe it doesn't really matter anymore.

Thanks Rastor for the answers and the OP.

Crackbone
May 23, 2003

Vlaada is my co-pilot.



Boll Weevil posted:

If I buy one of those SIMs for StraightTalk online, do I need to get the $45 card with it to activate or can I just use my credit card when I activate?

Probably doing the StraightTalk iPhone thing for a few months until the next iPhone comes out. Don't want to get stuck with a 4S.

I know you can setup recurring payments via credit card once you've used a $45/mo card, but I don't know if you do start it up without at least the first prepaid card.

If it makes any difference, you don't have to buy the card along with the sim, any $45/mo card at Walmart will work.

cage-free egghead
Mar 8, 2004

Ready to eat me, sir!


I picked up an Exhibit II 4G over the weekend and I'm enjoying it quite a bit, for a $200 phone this is probably the best cheap phone I've ever had. It's a bit quicker, the screen is larger and more clear, camera is better, and battery life is better than the 2 Optimus V's I went through.

T-Mobile's coverage in the Minneapolis/St. Paul is pretty good, have had a few weird spots where it seemed to slip in and out but I'm getting 2.6mbps down and 1.6mbps up about in the NW suburbs. Nothing on Verizon's 4G but still adequate for most things.

I was worried when I purchased it at WalMart the employee said they don't do activations there but when I called T-Mobile to set up my account I told them I purchased it from WalMart and asked for the plan and they put it on no problem.

Will be rooting it and installing a new rom onto it, it does experience some issues with lag if you're jumping from app to app but that's to be expected.

For a $200 phone and a $30 pre paid plan I'm really liking this loads better than Virgin Mobile. Might have to try and find a Nexus S.

gariig
Dec 31, 2004
Beaten into submission by my fiance

Pillbug

This might be a really dumb question but do you have to pay any taxes or fees with these plans?

Rastor
Jun 2, 2001



No doubt those fees are included in there somewhere, but generally the listed price of the plan is the amount deducted from the funds in your prepaid account each month.

Arcsech
Aug 5, 2008


gariig posted:

This might be a really dumb question but do you have to pay any taxes or fees with these plans?

On Virgin Mobile I have to pay my state's sales tax (10%, screw you Washington) on top of the listed price but that's it.

Rastor
Jun 2, 2001



Oh, and note that in some cases prepaid plans define a "month" as exactly 30 days.

Naffer
Oct 26, 2004

Not a good chemist

Rastor posted:

Oh, and note that in some cases prepaid plans define a "month" as exactly 30 days.
T-mobile prepaid does this. You pay for ~12.1 months per year on the monthly plan.

Zero VGS
Aug 16, 2002
"It has gunfights and shit!"


Lipstick Apathy

gariig posted:

This might be a really dumb question but do you have to pay any taxes or fees with these plans?

For Tmobile I use phonezip.com to sidestep state sales tax. It's $29.85 for them to instantly display and email you a $30 refill pin you then punch into the Tmobile "my account" app or the Tmobile website. I've used them for three months and no problems at all. This is the correct product:

http://shop.phonezip.com/product/22...-PIN-Refill.htm

Boll Weevil
Feb 21, 2007

Do work.

Has anyone ordered a SIM from StraightTalk's site? I ordered from them earlier today and they're doing overnight shipping for free, but never got a confirmation e-mail.

My order when going through their site says 'in progress' and that's about it.

Not really a big deal, although I kinda should transfer over before the 12th because that's when my Virgin Mobile account re-ups.

Kinochen
Nov 2, 2007


Boll Weevil posted:

Has anyone ordered a SIM from StraightTalk's site? I ordered from them earlier today and they're doing overnight shipping for free, but never got a confirmation e-mail.

My order when going through their site says 'in progress' and that's about it.

Not really a big deal, although I kinda should transfer over before the 12th because that's when my Virgin Mobile account re-ups.

I just got my sim card from StraightTalk. Came in three days like it said that it would, but it required a signature for delivery. It took about 4 hours for my confirmation number to get sent to my email.

I am extremely happy with StraightTalk so far. I had wanted an iPhone for awhile, but was not interested in a contract or paying 120 a month for the features I needed. Thank you op for the information.

Boll Weevil
Feb 21, 2007

Do work.

One more question (oh god why)!

New month at midnight for Virgin Mobile and my StraightTalk SIM comes tomorrow. If I don't top up my Virgin Mobile account, I should still be able to port my number out, correct?

Zero VGS
Aug 16, 2002
"It has gunfights and shit!"


Lipstick Apathy

Yeah they'll wait a good while before deleting your account if you haven't paid. Prepaid is for the poors, remember? Just initiate the port and it should go through.

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BlackFrost
Feb 6, 2008

Have you figured it out yet?


So what does it mean, exactly, for a Galaxy Nexus to be "unlocked," and able to use on T-Mobile's towers? Because a buddy of mine is thinking of switching back to iPhone, and would be willing to sell his Nexus to me for cheap. He runs it on Verizon's network though, so I have no idea if I'd be able to get it to run on T-Mobile's services. If I could get it to work, though, I'd jump ship without hesitation. The Triumph is tolerable (I've got a mostly-working ICS ROM running on it), but a Nexus would be very nice, and I hear T-Mobile's service is a bit better than Virgin anyway.

For convenience's sake, would I be able to port my number as well?

EDIT: Forgot Verizon doesn't use SIM cards. Nevermind.

BlackFrost fucked around with this message at 08:32 on Apr 13, 2012

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