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.