Tuesday, February 28, 2006

On Second Thought...Stuff about STi and Alltel

OK, so I decided that there was enough prepaid phone news to post. My bad. Anyway...

First off, CheapPhoneCards, which has had no STi phones on their site for about a week and a half now, has just added the LG 5225. Unfortunately, they, like STiMobile.com, require a $50 card to be purchased along with the phone. There are three coupon codes that you can use, paymecell, payme25 and cell4, but the lowest the price is going to get is $110.24. In other words, you basically get free shipping and about $3 in reward points if you buy from CheapPhoneCards.com over getting the phone from STiMobile's store. CheapPhoneCards is a better deal, but don't look for the miracles that were happening (phones where you get money back with a rebate, plus some airtime) a few months ago. :(

Second news is better news. I applaud U Prepaid (at http://www.alltel.com/personal/wireless/plans/prepaid.html) for

1) Low rates (15 cents a minute isn't bad, plus the daily plans are great)
2) No expiration (as long as you make a call every 30 days you aren't socked $4)
3) A HUGE network (Verizon + Alltel, 59 cent roaming where these networks don't service, which isn't much)
4) Great phone availability

You've probably heard about the first three great things, but let me tell you about the fourth. First off, the bad news: you have to pay an additional $55 on top of the "phone price" to get a certain phone on prepaid. $20 of that goes toward airtime so it's not a total loss. But anyway, here are the phones Alltel offers (the good news) and the prices, including the $55 for activation and airtime (think of it as 133 minutes free with the phone, or $20 free if you have the daily plan, which is really great for people who use more minutes). By the way, I seem to remember that you can get web access for $20 a month...not cheap but pretty good considering the huge coverage footprint. By the way, the model name links are to PhoneScoop descriptions, while the price hotlinks are to Alltel's product page.

Audiovox 8910 - $90 - This is a camera phone. Not the best brand but it is a camera phone and now, with no more STi rebate, the cheapest camera phone that I know of for prepaid, outside of eBay.

Kyocera SoHo (KX1)
- $70 - This is a pretty nice starter phone; it's a color flip with an external caller ID display. Again, not a super brand but from what I've heard the SoHo is a solid, if visually quirky, phone.

Kyocera Slider Remix (KX5) - $270 - You'll pay dearly for the luxury, but nobody will EVER know you're on prepaid with this phone, which has an MP3 player, 1.3 Megapixel camera with video recorder, and Bluetooth. Granted, Virgin Mobile sells their Slider Sonic for around $200, but it doesn't have nearly as good features, rates or coverage.

Kyocera Candid (KX16) - $135 - This is on the expensive side for a simple cameraphone, even for prepaid, but it appears to be solid phone and it's pretty new to boot.

Kyocera KX440 - $175 - Personally I wouldn't get this phone on U Prepaid, firstly because of its price considering it doesn't even have a camera, secondly because of U Prepaid's lack of Touch2Talk service, the thing this phone was built for. Neverthless, if you need something rugged Alltel has it in this phone.

LG AX4270 - $135 - Another phone I wouldn't get on U Prepaid, this guy doesn't have a camera, nor any other redeeming feature that justifies its rather hefty price tag. Of course, if you like the phone though, go for it...

LG AX4750 - $170 - Hmmm...yet another phone not suited for U Prepaid. Its primary focus of features is walkie talkie, as with the Kyocera KX440. U Prepaid doesn't have that yet, so I'd mark this phone off as a choice, unless you really like the big ole speakerphone speaker.

LG AX5000
- $165 - Boy, this phone is expensive, but it just might be worth it, with a camera that has a flash and no-training-required voice dialing. Then again, this may be too much to pay for a normal-sized camera phone, meaning that U Prepaid has the...

Motorola Razr V3c (CDMA Razr) - $305 - Say it with me now, "expensive". Now that we've got the moderately insane cost of this model out of the way we can whoop about having the CDMA Razr on prepaid! Granted, T-Mobile and Cingular already sell their Razrs with prepaid kits, but even Cingular doesn't have the coverage that the combined Alltel\Verizon network does. Plus the newer v3c has key features that are simply better, among them video capture, a 1.3 megapixel camera, and EVDO high speed data. I doubt you'll be able to use the last feature on U Prepaid, but it just might work, which means that if you're in an EVDO area you'll be getting speeds from a prepaid phone that you used to think only came from your home-bound DSL connection. Oh, and did mention that this is a Razr? As in THIN? :)

Motorola v262
- $105 - There isn't much special to say about this phone, which is about on par with the Kyocera KX1, except that it's moderately cheap, which is always good, and that it's a Motorola, so if you like brand names here you go.

Motorola v265 - $145 - Yet another phone Alltel isn't pushing on their prepaid service, but the fact remains that it's a pretty good phone. It has a camera, speakerphone, other such good features, and a Motorola logo.

Motorola v710
- $205 - This is a pretty good phone, at a pretty high price. It has an MP3 player, a 1.2 megapixel camera, bluetooth, and a full-sized SD slot, plus all the normal goodies. It's not a Razr, but neither is it $305, and it still has a lot of nice features. For an advanced user I'd say this is at worst a fair buy.

Nokia 6235i - $165 - If you want the Nokia brand name on U Prepaid, prepare to pay. But you do get a good-looking bar phone with infrared, a video camera and an FM radio. And a nice little Nokia logo.

Nokia 6255i - $225 - This is a phone that's definately expensive, but it does have a lot of features, a flip, and a Nokia logo. Among these features are an MP3 player, a video-capable camera, streaming audio and video, Bluetooth and an FM radio. It's a lot of money but once again you have a phone that will never be accused of being prepaid (aka for now "old and featureless")

Samsung n330 - $145 - Personally I wouldn't pay this much for a non-cameraphone just because it says "Samsung" on it and has a pop-up, pop-down screen, but to each his own...it is a pretty good phone if a phone is all you want, but so are cheaper models...

So that makes 15 handsets available for U Prepaid out of the 18 available for Alltel as a whole. This beats the prepackaged (not counting eBayed or otherwise "introduced" prepaid phones) count for any other carrier that I know of for sheer selection on prepaid phones. Impressive, though most handsets will cost you. But if you want a phone you can be proud of, rates you can be proud of, a network you can be proud of and expiration you can be proud of, U Prepaid just works, though you may have to swing by an Alltel store aways from where you live to get one of these phones (and a non-local number) if you live in a Verizon-only area.

Sweeps Update

Just to let everyone know, I've received one more than enough potential referrals on the FreeiPods site and thus I've changed the link to freeipodshuffles. On either site I'll only accept the first few offers completed to keep the sweeps numbers nice and small. I'll email the other people that are potential referrals as people complete the offers on either site. To get technical, only the first 5 offer-completed referrals on the Free iPods site will be entered (that means 4 more and I'll post as people complete offers) and only the first 3 offer-completed referrals on FreeiPodShuffles.

To stress the point I WILL post here when people complete offers so people don't needlessly throw away their completed offers. Oh, and I WILL have more sweepstakes after this one is over. Hope this helps anyone wanting to enter my sweeps and have a nice day everyone!

P.S. The reason there's no prepaid phone news here is there is no prepaid phone news elsewhere worth enough to post here. When there's enough news I'll post it. Hopefully that time will be around the end of this week...

Monday, February 27, 2006

Sweepstakes Rehash

OK. To keep this topic known I'm rehashing in short the Go4Prepaid sweepstakes. For more info, scroll down to the full post.

Grand Prize - Either an LG 225 with accessories or a Boost i285 with accessories. The former will come with at least $5 in airtime, the latter with around $30. Software, ringers and wallpapers are also included for both phones (actually no wallpapers on the i285 because it can't do them).

1st Prize - Nokia 5165 with home charger

TO BE ELIGABLE - Follow the current referral link (right now it's Free iPod) and complete an offer.

I'll draw the winner as soon as I have the 8 required referrals. Yees, your chances are 1 in 8 that you'll get a pretty good phone...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Tracfone Promo Code

Tracfone SMSed another promo code directly to the home screens of my mom and dad's Nokia 2126s (seems to be the delivery method of choice now for promo code ads, and of coure the message is free). The code is 59879.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Tracfone CDMA

I'm happily reporting that Tracfone (who knows when they did it) now has Nokia 2126s on their website. If you want to get them from there type in 78624 for the zip if yours only shows GSM phones (Nokia 1100, 2600, Moto c155, v170). The phones ARE $30 plus tax though so my offer ($30 for a 2126 with 120 minutes) still stands. Oh, and I can help anyone needing a referral for their new phone; just email me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Go4Prepaid Sweepstakes!

Okay, so I want to promote my site and get rid of a phone and get a few freebies in the process. With these filthy motives I present the first Go4Prepaid Sweepstakes!

First of all, to qualify you need to click on over to the Free iPod link in the link bar and complete an offer. After 4 people have done this it'll change to a Free iPod Shuffle link. Click that one too. You can enter multiple (in this case up to 2) times in my little sweepstakes by entering once when I have the iPod link up and one when I have the iPod shuffle link up. If you've alreaady completed an offer you're already entered into my little sweepstakes. When both my freebies are on their respective ways I'll pick the winner and send the prize off.

I have two prizes, and I'll choose the winner of the greater-value one first but otherwise you have an equal chance of getting one or the other. One thing though is that no one person will get both prizes. With that little bit of legalese aside, here be the prizes:

GRAND PRIZE (either or, my choice, with a good chance that it'll be the 225 since I will have to pay $30 or so to get the other phone up and running again, though if STi lowers their rates again the winner may get the Boost):

A great condition Boost Mobile Motorola i285 with a home charger and extra faceplate. It also has a ringtone I bought, a racing game and TeleNav (not standard with the i285; I paid for it) with one route. The phone will come with a newly reactivated sim card with $20 of airtime on it. This phone is rather basic and rather low on battery life (model characteristics, not due to my use) but it's ultrasmall for an iDEN phone and has great reception (better than any other iDEN phone I've run across).


My right now primary cell phone, a very good condition LG 225 cameraphone on STi Mobile, complete with car charger, case, home charger and manual. It will have at least $5 of airtime on it. It, software-wise, has 13 downloaded ringers (mostly movie themes but other stuff mixed in), a few downloaded wallpapers, various downloaded games and apps (basic stuff not worth mentioning) and Opera Mini, which lets you browse the full (HTML) web, or most of it, if you pay STi 19 cents a day for data services. This phone will be the prize if everybody becomes eligable between the time I receive the rebate for this phone and when either STi once again kills the 10 cent daily fee (April at earliest) or I sell the phone locally. Neither are likely to happen so it's pretty safe to assume that you'll get this phone if the winner gets their prize after I get my rebate.

Yeah, this is summat of a joke, but this lucky winner gets my very own, great condition, Nokia 5165 TDMA phone as well as a home charger. You can use this on whatever TDMA servie you have locally (Beyond Wireless is no more...) or use it in analog mode for a Verizon-based prepaid service where Verizon has an analog signal (which is generally where they have an 850-MHz digital signal). I may even throw in an extra battery.

Some Quick Notes:

-There are only eight referral slots total for the iPod and iPod Shuffle, combined. So you have a SUPER chance of winning something, especially since I'm offering two prizes (though one is a bit more of a joke prize...).
-Some of the offers there are free so you could say "no purchase necessary"...
-I will email you when you show up as having completed an offer on my referral account, which will be when the same thing shows up on your account
-If you're already participating in the FreeiPods or FreeiPodShuffles promos through somebody else's referral link sorry but for that particular promo you won't be eligable here to enter, as I wouldn't get credit.
-Clicking through my referral link won't make it any harder for you to receive your own free iPod or free iPod Shuffle. If you had gone straight through www.freeipods.com or www.freeipodshuffle.com the only thing different is that you wouldn't be able to enter my sweepstakes.
-Sorry, no prize substitutions. If you don't live in a Sprint or Nextel service area (depending on the phone I send) then you may not want to sign up, though I'd give you
the Nokia 5165 if you really wanted it and you won.

I guess that's about it. If anyone has any other questions about this deal, email me...

Tracfone Promo Code

Tracfone sent an SMS to my dad's phone (for free) with a promo code (I don't personally own a Tracfone...yet). It said you can get 30 extra minutes on any airtime card (its wording ws 40 units or more but anyway...) with the promotional code 50386. Which means that you can get 90 minutes on Tracfone for $20...not bad at all considering that this is just 22.2 cents a minute. Enjoy, everyone!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


To borrow a cheesy tagline from half the lower-tier horror films available on store shelves now, Evil Never Dies. STi is reinstating the 10 cent per day fee March 19th. Looks like they once again fall off my reccommended providers list. Fortunately, this one month free of the evil daily fee-for-nothing (besides free lng distance to about 16 countries, none of which I call - ever) gives me enough time to qualify for the $100 rebate on my camera phone. Once I get the rebait (I spelled it that way intentionally) this phone is up for grabs, for the same price that Sprint sells it for on their website with a 2-year contract ($50), and with more stuff than Sprint sells it with (case, car charger and home charger would be included).

I'm completely disgusted with STi in case you can't tell. Granted, their fee isn't here yet but I'm still highly annoyed. Unfortunately I doubt this widespread annoyance will get STi to stop nickel-and-diming us to death (literally) for a second time...once again let me sing the saga of a great prepaid company gone terribly wrong...

The interesting thing is that those ten cents per day may be going into branding, as in the ugly STi logo being put onto the plastic of their phones with more than just a sticker. Or am I just seeing things on the Samsung a820 displayed poudly on STi's homepage? Granted, it's a nice phone and I would love to have it, but unless STi kills the daily fee for good I'm not biting...unless they give me a REALLY good reason to do so (30-day service period $100 rebates on the Samsung a820 anyone?).

On a side not, a rep actually did mention a rebate on the Samsung a820 coming next month to promote STi's ReadyLink aka Press and Talk service. But I probably won't stick around. Let the search for the best carrier around these parts begin... :(

Friday, February 17, 2006

STi Phones: New True Blue :)

Okay, there aren't any blue phones except the old LG 5350 but STi has finally made available most of the phones it has in its lineup on their site. Furthermore, the prices are OK. The sad thing is though that CheapPhoneCards now doesn't have any good deals (only the Samsung a460 and that at their former deal which is not bested by STi's site) but that may change next week when they get the Samsung a820 in. Anyway...

All STi phones on the site require the purchase of a $50 refill card and possibly some cash for shipping and maybe tax, but the breadth of offering is large and when you take into account the fact that you'll probably use up the card anyway eventually the prices aren't that bad...

Samsung a460 - Free
LG 1200 - Free
LG 5350 - $20 ($19.99 but anyway if I quote a price it's really a wee little penny less on their site)
LG 5225 - $60
Sanyo 200 - $60
LG 225 - $100
Samsung a820 - $100

There are no rebates involved any more, or at least not right now, so no outrageous deals, but the phones aren't that bad for the price either...by the way the Samsung a460 and LG 5350 are refurb but that usually means nothing as to quality detriments

Samsung a460 - For a freebie this is a nice phone; I think it even has web browsing. Granted, the screen is black and white but this may be a plus in some cases and it has poly ringtones and suchlike amenities. With the Virgin Mobile Shorty, also black and white but a mere bar phone (though a Nokia) selling for $40 on Amazon this isn't such a bad deal. Oh, and did I mention it was free?

LG 1200 - You'll probably want to stay away from this phone, but the fact remains that it is pretty darn free and it is a flip phone. Disposaphone here we come ;).

LG 5350 - This is a lot of phone for $20. It's pretty old and a mixed bag as far as ratings go but it is a color flip with an external (black and white) display plus it does have analog capability (the LG 1200 doesn't; only 19800 digital) so if you break down you can still call 911 or make a horrendously expensive credit card call.

LG 5225 - The old STi standby is now pretty expensive but the phone is solid, if on the old side. It's didital-only and battery life isn't stellar but it has web access and is in general good all around. If you want web access and have a budget limit of $75 or so for a phone on STi here it is.

Sanyo 200 - If you just use voice and text this $60 phone is superb, if you can live without a caller ID display. Since it's a Sanyo it is tuned for Sprint's network and will thus net you the best reception on STi (99.9% sure). Plus there's a gloriously huge speakerphone grille on the outside so everything is gonna sound loud and clear. Once again, there's no caller ID display or web (on Sprint this was called a "Voice Phone") but it's a darn good basic phone with STi's darn good airtime rates so it's a winner. Interestingly though, my local Wal-Mart is selling the Movida version of this phone (Latino-centric 20 cents per minute or cheaper with a large daily fee) for $50, but the airtime would even the difference out pretty quickly.

LG 225 - If you can live without walkie talkie this is simply a great phone, doing everything it does pretty darn well, though if you get in a dead spot the otherwise strong battery will get sapped unreasonably quickly. At $100 plus airtime it's no longer an outrageously cheap bargain of a camera phone but it's still worth the price.

Samsung a820 - This phone is the newest of the STi lineup, both in date added to STi and date added to Sprint (it has never seen a red diamond logo). It's expensive (just as expensive as the 225) but a massive speakerphone grille, a massive external screen and the ability to do ReadyLink (STi is iffy about whether it will call Sprint but I'm thinking it will) set it out from the pack. If you were thinking of putting your family on Boost for walkie, don't. This phone has faster data access, more reliable text, clearer voice and walkie talkie (if not faster to connect on the latter) and best of all cheap pricing on everything, though the phone is $20 more than its iDEN match, the i450 (which is a lesser phone in my opinion). If and when STi does get a rebate on this phone that brings the price down to less than $50 I'll get it to see how it works.

So no, there aren't any blue phones on STi yet that are really snazzy, but the opening of the selection on the website bodes well for this company's future, especially with its putting a Sanyo phone within easy reach.

Trac Promo Codes

Here are some promo cods (the hotlink in the title)...

STi Update!

Just to let everybody know, the STi fee removal for the 10\12 cent plan is bona fide! I placed a text call this morning and it gave me the same balance as yesterday. I'm happy, aren't you? :)

As a side note, there is no more double minute promo for the Nokia 1100 in GSM areas on Tracfone. No big loss there though. Otherwise everything is the same, except that the big promotion box in GSM areas is the 1100 with the 1-year card.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Boost, STi, and Various other important miscellany

First of all I want to shout from the treetops that STi is supposed to repeal the 10 cent fee for the 10\12 plan! Looks like I'm not selling ym camera phone after all! :) There aren't any rebates available for STi phones right now, except for the wierd Staples rebate that makes you use about $50 worth of airtime to get a $100 rebate, but still this is good news.

Second, Boost Mobile is supposed to decrease walkie-talkie in mid-March. Its price, that is. It will then be $1 a day. For this reason, and for TeleNav (turn by turn driving directions powered by Nextel GPS...suffice it to be called "rockin'" ;) ) I'm going to keep my Boost Mobile i450.

I have two Boost phones and yes I'm selling the other one, the i285. I'd be willing to accept $30 for it, except that shipping cots a bit, so I'm thinking more like $35. It's worth every penny; it's the smallest iDEN bar phone I know about, and while the battery life isn't good the reception is, beating out any iDEN phone that I've come up against yet. It has about $15 worth of stuff I put on it, namely TeleNav (plus one route), a ringtone, and a racing game. The sim card inside it is inactive, but it's cheap to replace. Email me if you are interested, ye readers.

Third, taking the principle that Beyond Wireless TDMA was able to activate CDMA phones, I'm going to try to activate my Nokia 5165 on a Verizon prepaid, USAOneRate (www.usaonerate.com). Granted, it will run in analog only, but it should be home coverage and it will be a neat experience, as well as a nice way to resurrect an otherwise-useless phone.

Speaking of USAOneRate, I'll talk later about it and other Verizon prepaids. Suffice it to say that the map on its site is incorrect; only Verizon towers are home territory. But the rates are not too bad...though there is a nasty 5 cent daily fee.

Tracfone Specials - Part Three

Sorry this was so long in coming but life once again caught up to me. This is the best part of Tracfone at the moment: GSM. At least as far as prices go for minutes...

Starting small, Amazon has the Nokia 2600 for $40. No tax and free shipping make this phone nice. If you want it, which you have good reason to, get it here, though if you are willing to settle for less you can get better deals.

Next up is the Nokia 1100 with a 60 minute card for $27 shipped and taxed from Tracfone's website. If you get two or more you will get free shipping. Each phone will get at least 180 minutes, with the potential for up to 320 minutes if you refer from another of your phones, then add the airtime card with the aforementioned promo code, then transfer the whole sheband to the referrer phone. Which makes for a cool 7 cents a minute or so if you get two phones and thus kill shipping costs. Of course the phone is refurbished but it's worthy enough to even be used as a normal Tracfone, not just as a vehicle of profit.

You can also get a free new Nokia 1100 with your choice of the $130 double-minute card or the $100 1-year card. Sounds like a 1-year contract with a cheesy phone to me, but hey, it's not all that bad. For the first you'd end up with probably 620 minutes plus double minutes for a year, making for about 22.5 cents a minute. On the second you'd get 570, for about the same cost per minute but less initial outlay and no doubling.

Now for the grand finale: the Motorola v170 deal. New airtime rates have made this good deal even better, netting a pretty darn capable, though annoyingly small-screened, color flip phone (the only color flip on Tracfone) with a total of between 400 and 420 minutes (depending on the promo code used) for $54 or so. If you have another Tracfone and do the refer-a-friend fandango you'll end up with 500 to 520 minutes. That works out to about 11 cents a minute, not counting the shiny new (okay, it's a refurb but looks like new) flip phone. Even without referring yourself and jumping through umpteen hoops you still get 12.5 or so cents a minute.

So yes, Tracfone has some good deals. All of the above phones have outgoing text at .3 units each, and incoming text at 0 units each (yeah, free) so if you want a lean mean texting machine this is actually a pretty cheap way to go. I might have to pick up one of these myself, even though there aren't any local numbers here...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Tracfone Specials - Part 2

Unfortunately, CDMA seems to be the technology Tracfone is trying to downplay on its website. The only phone available is the abysmal (or so I've heard) Motorola v120c, which costs $27 (tax and shipping included; if you get two phones shipping would be free so more like $21.40 apiece with tax only) and includes a 40 (now 60) minute airtime card. It is a fairly good deal though, since with each phone you get 120 minutes (port it over to the Tracfone of your choosing, which could also refer the phone and get 100 more minutes) plus at least 60 from the airtime card. With the promo code I mentioned awhile earlier you could actually get 100 minutes on the card (COULD is the key word here) so 220 (or even 320) minutes total. There are better deals out there in my opinion but this one is OK if you can live with getting another phone (same story as the TDMA Motorola v60).

Amazon has the Nokia 2126, but it's $22 plus shipping. Dunno about that one...

Tracfone Specials - Part 1

In these posts I'll tell you what all you can get on Tracfone's (and others') websites. They're all pretty good deals, but some are better than others.

First, TDMA:
On Tracfone's website the only model available for TDMA is the Motorola v60it. You can get it either for $60 plus tax for just the phone or $140 including a double-minute card. Yes, that would make the phone, which is brand new (not the model, the phone; the model is old as the hills), $10. Not bad, until you find out that it's a subpar phone. But even with this in mind with tax you get 720 minutes for $150 or so, plus one year of service and double minutes, if I heard right about the promotional code for the double-minute card. You could just activate the phone, get the referral minutes (refer another Tracfone, preferably yours), then port all the other minutes over to your main Tracfone (mor on what that should be later), then add the double-minute card. Right, I lied. You can get 820 minutes with this deal...not bad considering you get a year of service and a phone that's sellable for something on eBay...

Amazon, on the other hand, as a truly nice deal. They have the Motorola v120t, which unlike its CDMA brother is a truly nice phone, for $30 with no tax or shipping charges. Granted, there aren't any airtime cards or other such junk included in the package, but hey, this is the last haven of the cheap TDMA Tracfone. If there's superior TDMA service in your area, and Tracfone runs on that carrier (more on that in another post) then by all means buy it. Just keep in mind it's not the most modern of phones.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Tracfone Changes...

In the last few weeks several things have changed for the better around Tracfone. One thing is somewhat a change for the worse but I'dd take the good stuff :)

First of all, though you now have to enter EIGHT HUGE CODES to activate at least a new Nokia 2126 (may be for other models as well) or put in SIX HUGE CODES for one that hasn't had the program enabled, you mow most likely have access to Tracfone's nifty Rapid Refill system on the Nokia 2126. What happens is

1. You put in your airtime code and the promo code right after it in a certain menu of the phone
2. You wait
3. You get a nice message saying that you need to restart your phone since airtime has been added

The system still has a bug or two but now you never need touch a landline again to refill your phone, though you'll probably want to use the web to find good deals on airtime.

Speaking of airtime, there have been some nice minute increases that finally puts Tracfone on par with every other prepaid comany as far as price per minute goes. Here's what has changed:

40 minute card ($20) is now 60 minutes
100 minute card ($30) is now 120 minutes
200 minute card ($50) is now 250 minutes
1-year card (previously $90) is $10 more expensive (now $100) but gets 100 more minutes (250 total)
Double Minute card ($130) now has 400 minutes

In other words, the montly cost of Tracfone ownership just went up by about 85 cents if you just purchase off-the-shelf airtime cards, but rates are now in line with normal prepaid carriers like Simple Freedom (for Verizon areas RIP) and Cingular StopPhone...er...GoPhone, with the $30 card giving 25 cents a minute (120 minutes). Plus there are a few promotional codes that you can use to get a bit more airtime. Mor on those a little later.

By the way, if anybody wants a Nokia 2126 Tracfone, which are reputed to be rare creatures in some aprts of the US, my Wal-Mart supercenter usually has plenty (between a half dozen and a dozen). Yes, I'll ship the phone, charger, manual and of ourse battery out (no big blister pack to save postage) for $30 loaded with 120 minutes (the other end of the referral would go to either myself or someone who pays $10 for it), or rather with 20 plus I'd email the 100 later so I can ship the phone ASAP. If you want 220 minutes the phone is $40. I'm not leaving much room here for postage and PayPal fees and such (dunno if there would be any on PayPal but anyway...) so it might end up being $32 or $35 for the phone with 120 minutes (and that much higher on the 220 minute phone) if I find out that I lost money on the first phone or two I send out, which at Wal-Mart costs $21.36 including tax if my memory serves me right. I'm doing this because this is a nice phone and some places just won't give it to you. And yes, it would come activated to whatever zip you tell me. Or unactivated for $40. email me with any questions.

OK, now to the promo codes for airtime...

59837 which expires the 28th gets 200 minutes extra on a double-minute card
59647 which does the same thing (no expiration date posted) for a normal 1-year card
57381 which adds 50 minutes to any other card but may be expired already

Additionally it seems like you can use any active promo code on the new airtime value corrosponding to the one it was designed for. In other words, if a promo code (like the foursomes in the often-found booklet that came with earlier Tracfones) worked on a 200 minute card it will work just the same on a 250 minute card. This makes for some nice deals on airtime.

I'll probably post more but time escapes me right now. Hope this helps everyone.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Beyond Wireless: Out With The Old, In With The New

January 31st was the last day that Beyond, or anyone else for that matter, could activate any TDMA phones on AT&T's roam-able network. *Sounds taps*. But Beyond Wireless isn't gone yet. They now have a pretty good service on Cingular's GSM network.

Naturally you won't be able to use the old TDMA phones, and as a consequence of the network shift there's no more practically unlimited roaming. With this goes double-dialing though, but I still think double-dialing is a small price to pay for cheap home minutes and roaming everywhere. Cingular's Pay As Yoy Go network, which Beyond runs on, seems to have free roaming on certain small networks though, so the coverage map on the site is inaccurate in a positive way in some areas, though you'll definately not get all the coverage a Cingular plan gets, and where there's no home rate coverage there's no service.

Now to the phones. You can buy a sim card (ah the joys of GSM) for $16.66 including shipping, which gets you $6 in airtime as well (more on airtime later) so you can use any Cingular or unlocked phone out there as long as it has 850 and 1900 bands (all but those ritzy Europhones or really old Voicestream phones have both). Keep in mind though that as far as has been seen the only services Beyond GSM offers are, like its TDMA sibling, voice and text messaging so don't buy too rich. They can even activate an unactivated Cingular sim card, though I'm not sure about how much airtime (if any) that they give you. You can also buy one of (only) three phones off of their website, one of which is good and the other two of which are of dubitable value. There's the $60 Siemens S56, probably the best non-camera, non-MP3, non-keyboard, non-PDA phone out there. In other words it's definately made for talking on, and it does that, as well as other phone-centric features, well. It even has bluetooth!

The other two phones are the not-so-hot ones. There's the oh-so-old Motorola T720 and the oh-so-lousy LG C1300, around $65. I'd look elsewhere for a flip phone, like eBay. An interesting thing Beyond GSM had when it just had come out about a week ago was the Motorola c155 for $50, so if you wanted that phone and didn't want Tracfone's high rates you could get it, though I for one would pass.

As far as rates go things can be rather sketchy but everything seems to be very good, though a far cry from TDMA's super rates. The $5 card, with 36 minutes, remains, but on all cards there are now expiration dates, which range from 15 ($5) to 90 ($100) days. The lowest monthly cost is achieved with the 60-day $15 card, which gets 105 minutes. The lowest per-minute cost is of course the 1000-minute $100 card, just like on TDMA, except with the expiration date.

Interestingly, the billing system on Beyond GSM is based on play dollars (you ALKWAYS get between 15% and 70% more than the cost of the card, depending on how big a refill you get) similar to Cingular's GoPhone Pay As You Go system, and, seemingly jsut like it as well, you get texted with your balance after each phone call. Minutes are decremented at 16.75 or so "play cents" each from your balance, which in real life as said before ranges from 10 to about 14 cents. As a side not, if you buy from a bricks-and-mortar Beyond Wireless dealer (as opposed to their website) you get less minutes for any given ($5, $15, $25, $50 or $100) refill amount so it's definately better to buy from their site.

Text messaging is more of a blurry subject. Incoming text is always 6 cents, probably in "play money", while outgoing text rates vary, ranging from 8 to 6 cents depending on how many are sent, I guess within some mystery time period... Realistically incoming text will be more around 3.5-5 cents (refill values once again factor in) with outgoing text proportionally cheaper, but I'd rather just have free incoming text and a steeper outgoing rate. If you text a lot you probably want to look elsewhere.

All in all, Beyond Wireless has come out with a reasonably competitive GSM product after the demise (plays taps again) of their excellent (though roaming in my area) TDMA plans. It won't get anyone jumping up and down for joy, but it's a good deal for people who just talk and text a little and are in Cingular areas (I'm not so I won't be getting this, not until Cingular stops razing the bar here in central Texas at least). Oh, and the Siemens s56, as well as the "activate your own sim card" and "activate with your choice of number" bits are nice things we've all come to expect from a pretty good prepaid reseller.

Monday, February 06, 2006

STi Mobile: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

This post has been a long time in coming but first let me tell you the good:

STi now has Walkie Talkie service! It's 49 cents a day and available on the Samsung a820. Problem is, it is supposedly limited to STi only as of right now; so maybe no ReadyLink to Sprint yet. Also the phone is $130, plus a $50 card. A $100 rebate will probably come, along with its being available at CheapPhoneCards.com so you only have to get a $10 card with it, and that at a discount. Anyway, it's the cheapest walkie choice on prepaid, with a nice new phone.

Now for the bad, and there's lots of it. I'll start sotly, then work up to the huge points.

First of all, though STi now gives you free international calling to some countries with all plans, the list has shrunk to 15 countries or so. For the rest the rates range from reasonable to highway robbery. That's sad.

Second, there are no more rebates for the STi phones sold online. If you want a rebate, prepare for using 100 minutes a month for three months, thus sort of nullifying much of your rebate money because of all the airtime you have to buy. Anyway, now all STi phones are overpriced. I'm not paying $150 for an LG 225, $100 for an LG 5225 (or even %85 if paymecell still works on CheapPhoneCards) or $130 for the Samsung a820, PLUS a $50 card if I want the 225 (which CheapPhoneCards has ceased selling,a t least for now) or the a820, even if it has really cheap walkie talkie, web access, picture messaging or just plain old voice minutes!

Third, and this is HUGE: STi now has a STUPID, UNANNOUNCED, SLIMY LITTLE DAILY FEE! Yes, I feel that strongly about it. They didn't tell anyone it was coming. It just happened...for 10 cents a day the only added benefit for 10\12 users like myself is that you get free international calling to 15 countries. I don't know any phone numbers over there.

The other STI plan now has less distinction than it ocne had from the 10\12 plan. It used to have a flat rate (18 cents) per minute that included free long distance to a HUGE amount of countries. No more. It gets the same short list of freebies. But not only that, its rate structure has totally changed, rendering it a very much hybrid plan only good for people who use a ton of minutes per month, at least by prepaid standards. Yes, it's 7.9 cents a minute (applause) but with a 39 cent fee EVERY SINGLE DAY (just like the 10 cent fee on the other plan). BOOOOOO! Yes ladies and gentlemen, that's $11.70 per 30-day month just to keep your phone ready to make a phone call. Of course if you're used to Virgin Mobile this isn't so bad; 3 minutes a day on this plan is about even with Minute2Minute. But Virgin Mobile has a $25 color flip phone with external caller ID. STi's phone is now $85 or more. No good.

I remember about a year ago when I passed STi off because of its $1.95 monthly fee. This was back in the good ole days when the free phone (only 30 days of active service were required) was an LG 1200. Bleh I know. Granted, the plan didn't even have text messaging, or international calling for that matter, but now the minimum is $3 a month, or if you want a hybrid $11.70. Granted, for some people it's still OK but for myself, who use the phone between 50 and 100 minutes a month, the 10 cent fee drastically increases the price per minute, making some other carrier more economical. And I'll find that carrier, and quickly, unless STi gets that 10 cent fee off their plan.

I have a hunch the fee had something to do with STi's having to pay Sprint huge gobs of money to be the second prepaid carrier (the first prepaid MVNO) with walkie talkie service. But I'm not pitying them; a mandatory daily fe is absolutely negative when it comes to keeping customers.

In this vein I offer my LG 225 cameraphone for $60 shipped, with car and home chargers and a case, plus maybe some airtime, as soon as my rebate check comes in. If you can't get a good prepaid deal elsewhere STi may be the cheapest you can get, or you may really really want web and picture messaging, though it will, in sum total, cost you $12 a month or so. Also I'm selling my friend's LG 5225 for him, at $50 with the same accessories plus a data cable. It's available now.

Needless to say I'm really sad to see STi go this way but the way they added the daily fee leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I'm already paying them 29 cents for web and picture messaging I know but I don't want a 33% fee increase for no gain on my part, especially when they don't tell me about it. When their rates subside again I'll go back but not until then.

As an aside, I trned off web and picture messaging a day or two after the daily fee-for-nothing started. PLSPictures, I found, allows 30 days for you to download every single one of your uploaded cameraphone photos as one big zipfile before they delete them off of their system. Just so everyone knows. Oh, and by the way, the 225's photos look very good on a computer screen as long as you weren't moving the phone too much when you took the picture. Of course, you probably saw that already with my previously posted pictures.

In short, bye bye STi as soon as I get my rebate. I'll say hello when they kill the daily fee on one of their plans and put rebates back on their phones (or at least make them less expensive). Until then I'm scouting the world for the greatest prepaid carrier that has local numbers in my area (T-Mobile sadly doesn't), keeping a near-zero-balance Boost Mobile phone for the local number, walkie and GPS and a T-Mobile To Go phone for other stuff. Which reminds me, my i285 and Nokia 5165 are both waiting for buyers. Email me...

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Virgin Mobile Developments

Now to the big-name Sprint provider. First of all, the highest level of their Month2Month plan ($50 plus junk fees) now has unlimited nights and weekends. Wow, who knew VM could be civilized?

Actually, they can't be. At first glance their new "Inner Circle" plan seems great. It looks like you get unlimited calling to 3 people for 70 cents a day. Or is that unlimited nihgts and weekends? Neither. Rather, you get unlimited calling to three people ONLY on nights and weekends. What a rip...I can get REAL unlimited nights and weekends elsewhere for $18 a month (xTreme Mobile).

As far as phones go though they just got a little more reasonable. The Audiovox 8610, while not a great phone, has become the cheapest color flip with an external caller ID screen, at $25. Yes, it's a refurb phone and yes it's an Audiovox but if you want to try out Sprint coverage you can get a fuzzy idea of what it's like from this phone. The Kyocera Slider Sonic is down to $200 but that's still outrageously expensive for what you get.

Never mind; I take that back about the phones getting cheaper. They have just cleared out a lot of their old phones, leaving only color ones. Right, there's no Nokia Shorty on their website any more. The Kyocera Slider is the same drab $40 as it has been for awhile, but if you really want a slider phone it's cheap. The only other phones on the site (besides the Sonic, the regular Slider and the Vox 8610) are the Snapper (Audiovox 8915, $100) and the Kyocera K10 ($50) whose prices are unchanged since...a few months ago? Yeah, that sounds right...

Oh, and by the way, the Shorty is back up to $30 at my Wal-Mart. Let the dust collecting begin, as the Nokia 2126 Tracfone is sitting right next to it and is only $20.

T-Mobile To Go Developments (have to start somewhere)

Sorry, but I've been doing various things for the past several days and haven't caught this blog up to the changes made in the prepaid world on and around February 1st. I'll tackle T-Mobile To Go and Virgin Mobile tonight, with the others later.

First of all, T-Mobile's voicemail now works normally, namely that you get the specially-formatted voicemail message that lets you listen to a newly received message with just one button push. Nice...

Second, though little know, the $25 and $50 cards are now 166 and 500 minutes on Gold Rewards, respectively. I got all this info from a TMo rep, but sounds right.

Third, if you want to get free text messaging don't hope to keep it for too long; T-Mobile knows about the bug and is starting to work to patch it, or so I've heard. But it's not patched yet so have fun while it lasts...

Fourth, T-Zones is going to get bigger any day now. It'll still be free and not unlimited, but it will be larger than what it is right now.

Fifth, an account management system (but no call logs yet) will be added as well as an online photo album funtion (MMS charges apply, so it will cost 25 cents per photo uploaded) around the time the new T-Zones comes out.

Sixth, and probably the best of all, T-Mobile To Go will get (at the same time as it gets T-Zones and account management I think) free (yes free) roaming on Cingular's and Centennial Wireless's towers! Roaming in Mexico and Canada will also be available, albeit at an extra cost. Hey, I'll take 10 cents a minute with a $100 1-year card that's good almost everywhere where a normal, expensive, Tracfone GSM phone would have coverage. And no, there won't be any more fees for this...more on why I said that bit later...maybe tomorrow...

Friday, February 03, 2006

Have To Start Somewhere: Virgin Mobile

Sorry, but I've been doing things for the last few days. But a lot has happened on and since the 1st. I'll tackle Virgin Mobile first, then tomorrow you should hear about the other carriers...

First of all, now on Level 3 you can actually get unlimited nights and weekends