## Wednesday, April 26, 2006

### Virgin Mobile Phone: They're Cheaper...

Because of the impending release of the Kyocera Switchback phone on Virgin Mobile for $150 (camera phone, clamshell\bar hybrid, IM centric, seen this sorta thing before on such likes as T-Mobile) Virgin Mobile has marked down their phones on their site a good bit. Here are the prices: Kyocera K7 -$20
Kyocera K10 (Royale) - $30 Nokia Shorty (2115i) -$50, includes $40 in airtime so the phone is more like$10
Audiovox Snapper (8915) - $100 Kyocera Slider Sonic -$180

By the way, click on the iPod shuffle link! The sweeps, with my LG 225 cameraphone as the prize and two Nokia 5165s as second place is still going...

## Sunday, April 16, 2006

### News from STi

So you want unlimited 1xRTT web access for a reasonable amount per day, as well as walkie talkie service. Too bad STi's your only option here, but if you plan to stick around you can just buy their Samsung a820 handset from their site for $25 +$100 (airtime locked to the phone) + shipping. I wouldn't but I don't want walkie and 1x in one phone that badly, though I hope to be able to review this phone and STi's incompatible-with-readylink walkie service sometime...

## Saturday, April 15, 2006

### Go4Prepaid Digest #3: Third Time's The Charm and the $25 Secret! Now for the third-time's-the-charm mega digest, which probably answers most, if not all, of the questions you've had about prepaid phones :) Let's start off with the$25 secret: how to get FREE Boost walkie talkie...

1) On your Nextel or Boost phone hit # * Menu Right to enter Debug Mode
2) Go down to Error Channel and turn it on
3) Clear both Resets and Flags

Remember to do this every time you turn your phone on though, because the Error Channel function turns itself off when you turn off the phone. So is that worth a few ad clicks? ;)

To access voicemail on a cell phone you usually just hold down the 1 key. But sometimes you have to program it. What usually works for the programming aspect is inputting either your own number or *86 (*VM). If you run into having to enter a passcode even when calling from your cell phone, insert a hard pause (T in LG terms

The Nokia 6061 may seem like a nice phone, by virtue that it's a Nokia, a flip and...um...a Nokia (yes, being a Nokia is very, VERY good). But it suffers from an undersized earpiece, which leads to bad, soft, sound quality. If it weren't for this tragic flaw I, and everyone else, would wholeheartedly reccommend this phone.

2126 tidbit: you can't unlock this phone per se. It's CDMA so it just can't be done. Of course, you could hook it up to a computer and reflash the firmware to that of the Nokia 2128i (Verizon's version) and go along your merry way, since actually the phone can go on whatever service it wants (it is SPC unlocked) but the big hurdle to overcome is that nice little airtime balance display and the software behind it.

2126 tidbit #2: Because this little guy is CDMA, SPC unlocked, and roams like postpaid due to its on-phone tracking of airtime, it will roam practically anywhere that has a CDMA or analog signal (it does analog). Of course, if you're off your own region's towers (for example, Verizon, south Texas) you'll get charged twice the normal amount per minute (two units per minute instead of one), but text messaging while roaming may very well work (I've used it while roaming before with a Verizon-based Tracfone roaming on Alltel) and the rate is the same as when you're in your home area. Nifty.

Anyone heard of Larry'sCellForLess? I have heard of it and even used it, but beware that he doesn't anser support requests AT ALL. I still don't know whether the extra bunch of refer-a-friend minutes ib ny dad's Tracfone came from him or were just a fluke...if the latter I've been cheated out of $15, kindof a steep price for a referral if you ask me. However, quite a few people have had a positive experience with this guy, and he does offer the cheapest Tracfone refills around besides free refer-a-friend offers... Somebody wondered whether Cingular used to have nights starting at 7 p.m. It's definately possible that they ahd it as a promo some time or other, but not on traditional prepaid...though when the service was still AT&T-owned (well, it is now but anyway...) GoPhone could very well have had this feature. So how do you get weather alerts on a Tracfone? You have two major choices: either send a text to Google SMS (46645 is the shortcode) with the word weather followed by your zipcode or city\state, or you can go to http://alerts.yahoo.com and set it up to send you weather alerts automatically. If your carrier doesn't support shortcodes you can probably use 411sms (http://www.411sms.com) for this purpose as well...I just don't remember the phone number you send it to as it is 10 digits. So what's PagePlus voicemail? Four words: it works, it's expensive. Why expensive? Because you have to pay for when people leave you messages. So it's set to off when you start service with PagePlus; you have to call them to turn it on. To access voicemail I'm pretty sure you can just dial *86 as long as you're on Verizon's network (you wouldn't want to check your voicemail off-netowrk anyway...not at a dollar or two per minute). Or you can dial your own number from either your cell or a landline, with the latter waiting for your recording to come on, then hitting either * or # (I don't have a Verizon phone myself so I'm not sure) and thus getting into your voicemail that way. So everyone's been wondering where to get lots of ood Tracfone promo codes. Well, just go to the database at http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/tracfone_users But how do you enter these promo codes into Rapid Refill (aka Add Airtime using the phone)? Just put the code in right after your airtime PIN. It's that simple! And the question remains: is there prepaid EVDO? The answer is for the most part a resounding No, though if you have the equipment you can use Verizon's EVDO for$7 a day if I recall correctly.

STi Mobile Tidbit #1: Web access, which is fairly snappy using Sprint's 1xRTT network (faster than dialup, maybe even twice as fast), is unlimited for 19 cents a day whether you use it or not on any given day. Remember though that the LG 5350 and 1200, and the Sanyo 200 and Samsung a460 can't do web; only the LG 5225, LG 225 and Samsung a820 can do it. But I've heard that you can, if you have the right cable and I guess software, tether the LG 225 to a computer and access the internet this way. If anyone knows more don't hesitate to email me; I'd rather not pass up faster-than-dialup internet for $9 a month (including the 10 cent per day ripoff charge). STi Mobile Tidbit #2: The only ways to check your balance are to either call 611 and talk to a customer service rep, or listen to the balance announcement on an outgoing call. STi Mobile Tidbit #3: Why are they so bad? Because they have a daily fee-for-nothing on all their normal plans, and their hybrid plan is pretty bad really. I mean, why did they have to add the 10 cent fee to a perfectly good plan (before February Plan 1 had no fee and has the same rates, except that international calling was not free to anywhere, though it was MUCH cheaper to everywhere). Want a cheap prepaid with unlimited text? You have two options, depending on whether you're in T-Mobile or Alltel coverage. Maybe if you're in Verizon coverage it'll work too... 1) Take a T-Mobile To Go sim and convert it to the Sidekick II plan using a Sidekick 2 IME1 (serial number, just Google it). Then put it into a normal phone (anything as long as it isn't a Sidekick\Hiptop). The only things that will work will be voice (15 cents a minute) and text (free) which means no T-Zones or MMS, but this also gets rid of the$1 fee associated with Sidekick access. Enjoy...

or

2) Get an Alltel U Prepaid phone and set it up for the daily plan. Granted it's 75 cents a day, but you can choose unlimited text as one of the options and unlimited calls to a certain number for the other, then assign that number to a calling card (2.5 cents a minute or so to the continental US). Then talk away and text away!

So you want to unlock a Virgin Mobile Shory. You can most likely do it by going into the programming menu of the phone (dial in *3001#12345#) and set the SPC code to all 0's. But I'm not quite sure on this so please someone email me and set me right here.

Speaking of Sprint, their Fair&Flexible plans now have nights starting at 7 p.m. Not that anyone on prepaid cares, but an interesting bit of trivia for people on the border between postpaid and prepaid. Heck, considering that STi's cost for the same thing would be $60 ($50 for Plan 3 plus $10 for extra minutes) you might well want a contract... ## Saturday, April 08, 2006 ### Go4Prepaid Digest #2 OK. So here comes the second Go4Prepaid digest... First, the Motorola v170 is a pretty low-tier phone, with no speakerphone and a screen the size of a Nokia 2126's (acceptable on a small bar phone, not acceptable on a medium-sized flip). But it is currently the only color flip phone on Tracfone. Nope, Trac doesn't have any flips with both color and an external caller ID scren, but if you need a flip and want Tracfone's coverage you'll have to get this guy. It's a GSM phone. The upside of it is that you can select what network you want to be on, at least for the next five minutes... Second, you can't "unlock" the LG VI-5225 phone per se. If it's on Sprint it stas on Sprint or one of its hybrid MVNOs (like Venture Mobile and xTreme Mobile). If it's on STi Mobile it stays on STi Mobile. Third, let's compare Tracfone to T-Mobile To Go. The former has the advantage that you'll get a local number and service wherever you activate, and depending on whether the phone is CDMA or GSM either get astoundingly great coverage or merely excellent coverage and no roaming fees. T-Mobile on the other hand has fancier phones, better features and generally cheaper minutes, but coverage suffers. I may expand on this sometime later, but those are the basic differences. Fourth, on Tracfone the Nokia 1100 is either$20 with no airtime (at stores and online, new) or $20 refurbished with a 60-minute card. The actual price with tax and shipping for this model will be about$27 but it's a nice thin phone and 180+ minutes aren't bad...

Fifth, the Virgin Mobile Shorty is a nice, though fairly basic, phone. Unfortunately, it is beset with the fact that its color sibling, the Nokia 2126, sells for $20 on Tracfone at a store near you, while it languishes in black & white at$30. But if monochrome is better for you (think sunlight) and you're on Sprint a lot then this is a good way to go prepaid.

Sixth and last, Virgin Mobile's Chat Park seems to be just a selection of mobile chat rooms, sort of like those found on Yahoo, though I need firsthand experience from someone else to confirm it. If you want instant messaging, they also have AIM for a fairly reasonable amount, though with AirIM and STi Mobile it'd actually be cheaper. Personally, Virgin Mobile's chat park is just another gimmicky way to zap your Virgin Mobile dollars.

Thus ends Go4Prepaid's second digest. Hope this helps everyone...

## Friday, April 07, 2006

### Go4Prepaid Digest #1

So I have this nifty thing on my site called Google Analytics (that's why the counter changed from a big obnoxious one to a little nice one), which tells me what people searched for to get my site. So now I'm going to periodically address the questions they put in...

First off, I know a lot of people want Tracfone promo codes. I'll get to those later...

Second, the Motorola c139 should be available soon on both Tracfone and Net10, but I can't say when since Tracfone has removed their tipoff that they update their site on Fridays and has decided to update their site any old dat. I think the reason that the c139 isn't out yet is that it hasn't been FCC approved or something wierd like that...

Third, to get a Tracfone or Net10 Nokia 1100 to go onto any other network you have to:1) Unlock it (I can do that)2) Reflash (reprogram) the phone software so that the Tracfone software isn't there anymore (I can't do that...yet)

So it's a two-step process and it's not too easy, so I would just pay $10 more and get either a Nokia 6010 or a Nokia 6030 (the former for durability, the latter for features) off of Cingular's GoPhone site and easily unlock it (I can do that for you). Yes, the 1100 is nice, basic and small, but the unlocking\reflashing hassle isn't quite worth it in my eyes...yet... Third, you can activate PagePlus (the Verizon provider with the lowest per-minute rate and lowest monthly fee and longest expiration) with a "kit" sold on eBay. They're really chap now, running at a maximum of$10.

Fourth, Simple Freedom was a pretty good deal when they could seamlessly use both Alltel and Verizon networks. Granted, you had to pay 25 cents a minute but the home coverage area was huge and roaming was 50 cents a minute everywhere else. But now that Verizon doesn't like Alltel anymore Simple Freedom owners on Verizon's network (if you have a Verizon number you count, if you have an Alltel number you don't) Simple Freedom coverage is going down to just the Alltel network, being replaced with an interesting Verizon plan:

20 cents a minute daytime1
0 cents a minute nights and weekends
99 cents a minute off the Verizon network
$30 minimum every 2 months Sound a little like Boost mobile? Nah, too expensive per month. For what people were using their Simple Freedom phones for it's probably not worth it. But this means you can probably defect to PagePlus, which has lower rates. Regarding various phone and service hacks, I'm in the dark on airtime code generators, cell phone hacks (except in a very few cases) and ways to double Boost airtime. Sixth and last for this "issue", Sprint seems to have totally blocked Free411 on their (and MVNOs') cell phones. Which is bad. But 1-800-411-METRO (1-800-411-6387) does the same thing so no reason to cry. I'll be coming out with these digests of questions and answers fairly often, so if you type in something into Google (or MSN or A9.com or Yahoo) and get here I'll probably answer your question that you had in an easy to see form within the week. Hope you people like it! ## Thursday, April 06, 2006 ### Cingular GoPhone Deals OK. Now back to normality... Cingular just put two of their newest lineup of phones onto GoPhone's prepaid lineup. Looks like I'll do some Nokia unlocking soon... Nokia 6030 (refurb) -$30 - This guy is a basic phone, but for the integrated FM radio tuner (you need an extra headset though that probably costs as much as the phone but anyway...) but the really nice thing about it is that it has a pretty big screen and it's nice and thin. Oh, and this was a $110-$120 phone on eBay the last time I looked...so I'd say this is an outstanding deal...

SonyEricsson z300 - $50 - Or was it$60? Anyway, this is a new phone (as in non-refurb) and is pretty good for the basic phone that it aims to be. It's a normal-sized color flip with an external caller ID display, but don't expect to unlock it like you can the Nokia.

In short, Cingular will be out of the Nokia 6030 soon so pick it on up. And unlock it. And put it on T-Mobile To Go. Or just sell it on eBay.

### IE WARNING!

Yeah I know this has nothing to do with cell phones, but just to make sure people don't bring their computers to a standstill (and thus not be able to visit this blog) DO NOT download the new Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Preview. Though the interface is pretty nice at least on my PC (hp pavilion m300y with Media Center 2005) it totally schmutzed up the internet settings. It was only after I uninstalled it that not only my internet would log off correctly but my taskbar would show what programs I had running. Typical Microsoft junk...

## Monday, April 03, 2006

### CheapPhoneCards and STi, MovilListo addition

CheapPhoneCards finally has the Samsung a820 ReadyLink STi phone. And you can breathe a sigh of releif if ReadyLink is worth 59 cents a day to you (I'm counting the absolutely outrageous 10 cent daily fee that eats up money unbelieveably): the phone, like the LG 225, includes $50 in airtime and is just$99 total. Paymecell, however, doesn't work on it. Cheap does, but simply takes the price down to $100 (shipping is$5.95), which isn't a very big drop. I'll get with CheapPhoneCards to see what other promos they'll have on this phone.

Second, MovilListo aka Movil Mobile is now supposedly running (and has been) on an expanded T-Mobile network, which gets Cingular coverage in some areas and maybe Suncom in others. Mexico also has coverage, and for cheap too, seeming only to have a one-minute surcharge (3 minute call gets billed for 4 minutes?) which is absolutely sweet.

Third, Cingular's GoPhone website now has the Nokia 6010 back at $30. So it's once again a pretty good deal. Granted, it's refurb, but I probably for one wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the refurb phone and the new version... ## Saturday, April 01, 2006 ### Net10 Is Getting Better I just noticed\confirmed that all new Net10 activations come with$30 in airtime and 60 days of service (aka a non-transferrable 300-minute card). Even the refurb Nokia 1100, which is $40 plus shipping and tax. And Net10 will probably start clearing out their current phone inventory in favor of the new phone models that will come to both Tracfone and themselves, meaning that you may be able to get a fancier phone for closer to the cost of the airtime on it. As it is this is one pretty sweet deal if you want Cingular coverage and use more than about 100 minutes a month (150 minutes a month is optimum). ### Movil Listo! CheapPhoneCards now has the product we've all been waiting for since the going rotton of STi: MovilListo aka Movil Mobile. As said before, the charge is 13.3 cents a minute (think about 7.5 minutes to the dollar) flat, and you get a toll-free number. You also get the usual caller ID, call waiting and 3-way calling features. And the phone, though old, is fairly small and cheap at$44.91 with the paymecell coupon code. It comes with 10 + 40 minutes of airtime (10 on the phone, 40 on a starter card) and the airtime never expires. It says it uses the Cingular network. I will confirm this later when I get the phone (possibly this weekend).

Now to the wierd part: the rebate. You send in $100 in airtime PINs (proofs of purchase) before you've had the phone 6 months and you get$49 in airtime added to your account. This doesn't seem to be as much a rebate program as a time-limited "Gold Rewards" option. So you buy the phone, buy $100 in airtime (I'm thinking CheapPhoneCards will mark them down at least 3% and have the "cheap" coupon code), send in the rebate and get a total of around 1150 (maybe closer to 1175 due to it being 13.3 instead of 13.3333333... cents a minute) minutes for$137.13 at most (assuming a 3% discount; there might be a 5% or even higher discount). So, counting the phone as free, you wind up getting your airtime at roughly 12 cents a minute. Not bad considering that it never expires and you have a toll-free number. Just don't think of this as an STi-style "free phone" rebate.

So, in short, I'm getting this phone. Granted, it doesn't even have text messaging yet, but it does have great rates and no expiration. And its network (Cingular it seems) is a good bit more expansive than Sprint's, though I do have a prejudice against the little orange man...

I'd say go for it.

### STi Snorefest

April 1st has come and our worse forebodings have been proven: STi's Plan 3 includes only 100 minutes, though the unlimited nights and weekends start at 7. I mean, come on, for $50 I'd expect something better. For the same price on a Sprint PCS contract plan you'd be able to get 400 minutes a month. Heck, even if you paid$10 extra for the no contract option you could get 200 minutes. Again, STi plays Captain Ludicrous. May it die a violent death...after I get my rebate...

Second, the LG 225 and Samsung a820 now require $100 in airtime plus the cost of the phone if you buy from STiMobile.com, and probably with other places to follow. I'm not paying$200 for a simple camera phone, or a ReadyLink-capable phone. Are you? Right, I thought so. CheapPhoneCards still has the 225 with $50 in airtime for$99, the price of the phone alone on STi's website (read: you can get 2 for the price of 1 with the airtime of 1), if your usage patterns match up with what's cheap on that carrier. But not much is cheap on that carrier anymore if you count in one or another of their daily fees...