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Android Cellphones Communications

Smartphones Invade the Prepaid Market 173

Posted by timothy
from the contracts-cost dept.
jfruh writes "When tech geeks debate the state of the smartphone world, they usually focus on the iPhone and its high-end Android rivals from the major carriers. But Android is rapidly entering the lower-end world of contractless prepaid phones that you can buy at 7-11 or Wal-Mart. 63 percent of prepaid phones sold in 2011 were smartphones, and while they might not offer cutting-edge hardware or easy customization, they do provide a smartphone experience without an onerous contract."
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Smartphones Invade the Prepaid Market

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  • by enjar (249223) on Friday March 30, 2012 @10:37PM (#39531475) Homepage

    Buy used 3GS for ~$150. Get GoPhone SIM. Insert in phone. Change APN if you want data. It takes three seconds.

    Prepaid smartphone. No onerous contract. No jailbreak required. Works fine with iTunes and App Store.

  • Virgin LG Optimus V (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dan East (318230) on Friday March 30, 2012 @10:40PM (#39531505) Homepage Journal

    I did a lot of research on this before Christmas for gifts for my kids. The best deal I could find is Virgin's LG Optimus V Android phone. Walmart sells these phones for $99, no contract. For $99 you get a heck of a lot - all the standard smartphone stuff - GPS, Wifi, accelerometer, capacitive multi touch screen, 3 megapixel camera, SD slot, etc. Now just as-is, with no service, you essentially have an Android equivalent to the iPod Touch. Netflix, youtube, pandora, etc, all play great over Wifi. My Walmart hasn't been able to keep these in stock for months. They'll get several in, and they are gone the next day.
        Then on top of that you can get service for $35 for 30 days, no contract. Unlimited data, unlimited texting, and 300 minutes of talk time. For my kids that is perfect. They mainly text and consume data. No standard carrier can come close to touching that with any contract plans. Literally, you're looking at DOUBLE monthly rates for the same plan (and you're going to have a data cap). For $50 a month you also get unlimited talk time.
        So this is the route I went for my two children that are old enough to need / use a cellphone, and it's worked out great.
        One note is that last week texting stopped working for almost a full 24 hours on all Virgin phones in my area. Neither sending or receiving would work. Then suddenly all the texting flooded both in and out when it started working again. I've never seen that happen with a contract carrier before.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2012 @11:25PM (#39531763)

    Straight Talk SIM (straighttalksim.com) is bring your own device (AT&T, T-Mobile or unlocked) and offers "unlimited" everything for $45 a month and even offers micro-sim cards. Uses AT&T's network and 3G bands.

  • Re:Slamming (Score:4, Informative)

    by spidr_mnky (1236668) on Friday March 30, 2012 @11:36PM (#39531825)
    They definitely do it. My girlfriend just bought a Fusion (marketed by AT&T as a pay-as-you-go thing) with the sole intention of ditching the sim card that came with it and using it on her existing AT&T voice only plan. Suddenly they tell her she has a data plan, and she's going to pay for it monthly. We're still working out exactly how to react to that, but yeah, they're apparently serious about it.
  • Re:Can't wait.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2012 @11:40PM (#39531849)

    ESN blocks are carrier based, meaning switching carriers as long as the phone is comparable will often avoid a blacklist. That said, buying bad ESN phones is like clicking on spam, it only promote more unwanted abuse (theif, faking of lost phone for insurance) though there are legitimate cases (found phone again long after reported stolen, found lost phone but no way to contact original owner).

    But yes, you can get a defective phone, but that applies to all used and new phones bought (though mostly used). You'll simply have to either rely on whatever return policy is in place and vendor reliability/review/rating available. Bad ESN does not equal bad hardware, so that basically constitutes fraud if not described as such.

  • Never again (Score:4, Informative)

    by WillKemp (1338605) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @12:34AM (#39532039) Homepage

    I've had an android phone (HTC Desire) on prepaid for nearly 2 years now. I've had mobile contracts three times over the years - twice in Australia and once in Britain - and every time i left the country long before the contract expired, and had to pay it out. I'll never get a contract again! Prepaid's cheaper anyway.

  • Re:Cheap compared to (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rockoon (1252108) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @07:04AM (#39533185)

    Who has a $7/month dumbphone plan?

    Just like the AC who posted, I have a Tracfone (mine is essentially a classic Motorola Razr) that only requires an $80/year investment for 480 minutes not counting bonus minutes (generally another 90/year) granted for using promotional codes every 3 months. After 3 years I now have like 1200 minutes saved up.

    ..and for the record, this is not the cheapest you can get in the prepaid arena. Tracfone is carrier agnostic (will use any of the 3 networks at any time) while some of the carrier-specific prepaid plans work out quite a bit cheaper if you dont use many minutes.

    Texts cost 30 seconds each.

  • Re:Cheap compared to (Score:4, Informative)

    by guises (2423402) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @08:32AM (#39533409)
    You can also go prepaid. I have a Nexus One with a prepaid T-Mobile SIM - $100 is good for a year if I don't use it too much, but I don't get any data. Have to look around for wifi when I occasionally need it.

    The other nice thing about prepaid is that you don't have to give up any personal information, not even your name. I've got a firewall on my phone and I'm reasonably sure that unwelcome data isn't getting out, but it's still nice to have that extra bit of confidence.

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