Monday, July 31, 2006

Nokia 3595 vs. 6010

So many of you...okay so maybe not that many of you...are wondering what the difference between a Nokia 6010 and a Nokia 3595 is. Well, as far as I can tell there are two things, besides age and maybe a slightly yellow-er tint to the 3595 screen, but this last thing may just be due to age:

1. Faceplate
2. Software

The first thing is pretty darn inconsequential. The 3595 faceplate accepts either a keypad like the 3595 (several rocker buttons) or the 3560 (several buttons with multiple numbers). Send and end keys are very much seperate from the rest of the keypad. Up\down keys are an easy-to-use rocker and the two softkeys are arranged nicely. Personally, the 3560 keypad is really nice.

The 6010 keypad\faceplate combo has, but for the direction pad, different buttons for different numbers. But the softkeys and the send\snd keys are closer to each other, to the direction buttons, and to the numeric keypad. The whole thing looks cooler and it looks like you have a newer phone (you do) but personally once you get over the gosh-wow factor the 35xx keypads and faceplates work great.

The second thing is a little less inconsequential but mostly there are just appearance changes. The 3595's user interace very closely mirrors that of the Nokia 3560, the TDMA phone that I used to have (though the 3595\6010 are pretty much the bottom of the barrel nowadays the 3560 was near the top of the line for its time and was thus a nice phone), with bold colors and a "fun" feel. The ringtone selection is a bit different, if just a little bit, between phones. Applications and games as far as I can tell are the same across both phones.

The 6010 mimics the other Nokia 601x phones, the rest of them CDMA, with a more businesslike, less colorful, interface. But it looks as though otherwise functionality is unchanged. Volume levels may have a different way of being changed (bar graph versus menu listings) but everywhere else there aare just icon adjustments. Personally, the scroll icon for the Messages section seems a bit more retro to me and I kindof like retro.

As you can see, the differences between the 6010 and the 3595 are purely asthetic. If you like the older stuff you can get the older model and it will work great. If you like the newer stuff or want to get the phone at a normal website or retail outlet, your pick is the 6010. That's pretty simple.

In the future I may, just for kicks and grins, post the differences between various Nokia phone user interfaces, past and present. Just for fun. But the next post will be one of importance for sure. Not such goof-offs and rants as I've posted otherwise today. But that will have to wait till tomorrow.

My Inventory

In case anyone was wondering, my phone inventory (currently numbering eight phones and six lines of prepaid service) has changed lately, due to somet trades and sold phones and bought phones. So here it is, along with what phones are for sale. Unless noted, all phones are GSM.

1. LG 225 (CDMA, For Sale with data cable, car charger, case for $55 shipped)
2. Motorola i450 (iDEN)
3. Siemens s56
4. Siemens a56
5. Nokia 3120
6. Nokia 1100 (Tracfone)
7. Nokia 3595 (For sale $30 shipped, unlocked AT&T)
8. Nokia 6010 (For sale $30 shipped, unlocked T-Mobile)

The s56 I just got from the Cell Guru. The 3120 and 3595 were both from dot_null. And yes, I want to sell the best-reception phones for GSM already, only a few days after I got them. I can live with the service provided by the 3120 and the s56, both of which are more advanced phones than the 3595\6010.

Now for services:

1. STi Mobile (want to switch to Total Call Mobile ASAP)
2. T-Mobile To Go (Gold Rewards)
3. T-Mobile To Go (just got)
4. Boost Mobile (for TeleNav which doesn't work right and Walkie which does)
5. MovilListo (probably will drop this when I run out of airtime; it's really a joke)
6. Tracfone GSM on Cingular

And that's what I have. For what it's worth, both my parents have Tracfone Nokia 2126s running on Verizon. Nothing special there. If anyone has an ofer I can't refuse on the phones that aren't for sale, then email me. :)

Cingular Stingular aka My Rant For The Week

First off, let me give yet another sour note to Cingular's tune...

Even for contract users, they are starting to deny upgrades to customers they deem "unprofitable". This isn't only with prepaid customers, who can naturally just get another cheapie phone from them anyway and pay a high per-minute rate if the actually use GoPhone. We're talking any plan cheaper than the cheapest contract plan out now, which ofers 450 minutes (average) and 5000 nights and weekends (most carriers offer unlimited). What junk! Guess Cingular doesn't want people they

a) Can't put oon their subpar, though large-footprint GSM network ($5 per month fee for TDMA plans now)
b) Can't squeeze $30+ out of per month (old plans are being terminated if they're prepaid, downgraded if contract)
c) See making too many free calls (mobile to mobile comes to mind, even GoPhone M2M)
d) See making themselves too expensive (if you are on another network, even if you can't tell that you are, for 40% or more of your calls your plan goes bye bye...most sorta-nationwide carriers do 50%, so this is another degradation)
e) Can't turn a (large) profit on

I think their laughable prepaid is just to spite the other carriers and maybe to sell off old phone stock and turn a huge profit on unused network capacity, and just maybe to give another source for people to go to postpaid from. But seriously, I think (as do many others) that Cingular received a transfusion of bad blood when it bought out AT&T. And it hasn't recovered.

So what am I going to do about this? Make myself as unprofitable as possible of course. By buying Tracfones and selling the minutes for cheap. If I was in a Cingular area (coverage-wise I am, but somehow the site thinks I'm not) I'd buy their prepaid phones for cheap and maybe unlock and sell them, maybe just put them onto T-Mobile which offers a somewhat better deal (though I still don't like the steenking incoming message charges that are starting and the Get Less for $10 practice recently instituted).

If you must, choose Cingular. If you need not, choose not.

Now on to more constructive things...

New Domain Name!

Hey everyone! This blog, courtesy some webhost who they don't want me to name quite yet but I will soon enough, is now hosted for free on a "real" server, complete with a domain name: Update your bookmarks everyone, because I'm not sure how long BlogSpot is keeping the site up after I switch and besides this address is a lot easier to remember. More stuff coming soon. And yes, the site's new address is hotlinked in the post's title. Tell your friends! :)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

T-Mobile To Go: Out Of The Box

The day before yesterday (yes, I did a lot that day, though the s56 was only yesterday) I received the Nokia 6010 from T-Mobile To Go that I had ordered a few days earlier. Things have changed, maybe a little for the better, at T-Mobile and that's what I'll focus on here since everyone pretty much knows what T-Mobile To Go is.

The phone arrived with the back cover on and the battery and SIM already in the phone. Kinda scary to see that there was no SIM in the SIM card holder card, but then I figured out that everything was OK. Though I still wonder how they got a phone with the battery in it past UPS...the post office won't knowingly let you do that.

The phone wasn't in the best condition. Probably because a klutz put the battery and SIM in. There is a little scratch above the screen. But I don't feel like exchanging the phone. Though they did send me, among other things such as the activation guide and rebate form, a return shippiung label (!) in case things should run sour. That was a change since last time!

When I turned on the phone it registered on the T-Mobile network (another change for the better) and I was able to call 611. I thought someone else had used the phone before I did but the number that it gave as the phone number was just a code saying that the SIM wasn't activated yet. After confirming this with a T-Mobile rep (and ringing around the rosy a few times in Customer Support :( ) and also telling them to ship out the $25 card I was supposed to get (it hadn't been included, seemingly a common occourance) I started the activation process.

This is where things went very smoothly. I was forwarded to the T-Mo To Go activation department from the call I was having before, and I just punched numbers into an automated system. After maybe 10 minutes of punching a text message arrived on my phone telling me my number. Cool beans.

But then I found out that T-Zones wasn't working. It was trying to do a data call over GSM or something. Another few calls to T-Mobile support, who tried to send me settings and such, then aa call to a knowledgable rep in Tech Support (actually I was transferred) and he enabled web for me. He too was baffled why things didn't set up just right. But that's OK; now T-Zones is working.

Last but not least: the rebate. Since the rebate requires having activated T-Mobile service and one whole panel from the phone box, I won't of course be returning the phone. But for $4.95 after the various rebates (one mail-in, one DealKing cash back) that's OK. The phone is now happily unlocked (if anybody really needs a Nokia 6010 I will part with this one for $30 shipped) and thus ends my story of the new and somewhat improved T-Mobile To Go.

Siemens s56

I bought this phone from the Cell Guru and put my T-Mobile To Go SIM in it. Here's what I found (this model is an unlocked Cingular phone):

This phone is nice and small, yet doesn't sacrifice features for its size. Its keypad arrangement is sorta wierd, but not nearly what you'd expect from some wacky Nokia phone. The user interfae is actually quite bearable, as opposed to that of the Siemens a56. Maybe because it's in color.

The ringtones and speakerphone, while not overly loud, are reasonably good with sound output and clarity. And if you don't like the speaker you can use a Bluetooth headset (or a wired one if you have the little adapter, which I now have). And if you don't like the ringers you can use Bluetooth or infrared to get better ones on.

Overall this phone just feels advanced. And it's field test option, graciously enabled by the Cell Guru (it requires a serial cable mod to the phone and my SIM), is well laid out and comprehensive, showing me that this phone gets a reasonably good signal, even when compared with the stalwart Nokia 6010s that I have\had. Call quality is good and the phone connects the call faster, in my estimation, than the 6010 does.

There is a lot of room for customization and a lot (at least in bar phone terms) of screen real estate to do the cusomization on. You can change the background, startup logo, operator logo, "greeting", shutdown logo, and whatever sounds can be applied to these. Pretty nice.

Also, web access is nice and fast for such stuff as T-Zones, even though the phone nly has GPRS. Yes, it's faster as far as I can tell than the Nokia 6010. But then again the s56 was an advanced phone in its day. The 6010 has always been a more basic-oriented phone.

Yes,. the phone is small, but it still gets fairly good battery life. After heavy usage (web, playing ringtones out the wazoo, a few short calls) but without bluetooth or infrared turned on, for about half a day, the battery bar registered 1\3 depleted. I'm not complaining.

If you have any more questions about this phone then comment on this post. Hope this helps, though yes this is an older phone. And yes, it does have many more features than the Nokia 6010 and I got it for a mere $30.

Tracfone @ RadioShack

two days ago I did a lot in San Antonio (out with the braces, in with the retainers, yet another low-vision exam as I am almost laughably nearsighted). But in between doing a lot and doing a lot I made my way over to a local RadioShack, which had two things that were simply great. One was a set of 15-minute batteries. The other was the Tracfone Motorola v176.

At $60 plus tax I didn't bite. But at $10 more than the older v170 hanging right next to it, it was undoubtedly a fair deal. No rebates though, so no sale.

The phone, in blue, reminded me ever so slightly of the PEBL, but there's no camera or external caller ID screen. But its somewhat wider-than-the-v170 exterior means that you can put a nice-sized, or rather normal-sized, 128x160 display on the inside. I didn't see the display but this would make the v176 one of the largest-display Tracfones available, the other being the Motorola c261 (I didn't see that phone at RadioShack). Thus was my personal experience. :)

RadioShack also had CIngular and Sprint contract phones, as well as Cingular GoPhones (at OK, though not great, prices) and Virgin Mobile phones, including the Switch_Back, which looks absolutely abominable to my tastes. But nothing really to write home about.


The above single word is a 10% off coupon code for Yes, it works and yes, it's that good.

And there are other things to spend it on besides refill cards. For one thing, you can take another few dollars off the price of the STi Mobile Nokia 3588i so you'll get it for a mere $28 shipped. You will, however, have to buy wyour own STi Mobile airitme with it, but you can use this code on that too. But of course the Nokia runs on STi...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Tracfone Minutes Up And Running!

Sorry it took so long, but the page with all the info, pricing and answered questions about the Tracfone minutes is up now. It's hotlinked in this post's title and it's also now on the linkbar. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Oystr and Total Call

I meant to mention this yesterday but I was at Wal-Mart AGAIN yesterday and they let me use a working Kyocera Oystr for a few minutes before they plugged it into the charger (low battery).

And no, as I thought at first but wavered in that thought, it doesn't have an external caller ID display. Too bad it doesn't; it would be a sweet phone for the price if it did.

The speaker on the outside is loud enough I suppose, though the ringtones aren't all that appealing. Also, it takes about 3 seconds after the flip closes\opens for the associated sound (if any; you assign the sounds and settings for a lot of stuff on this phone, which is nice) to play. Ech.

I didn't test voice quality but the phone did seems to be holding a signal inside the building. However, the Openwave web browser would simply not load any of the Virgin Mobile web pages for whatever reason.

The screen, while pretty small, is legible and bright, but suffers from a bad case of viewing angle color distortion. And I mean BAD, at least if you're looking at vertical sensitivity. This causes some of the color schemes\theme to be practically useless. But on the other half of the phone, the keypad works nicely and the black inside of the phon contrasts nicely with the white exterior which somehow reminds me of an iPod though the plastic material reminds me of my Boost i450, which isn't saying too much good. Though the flip action is nice and tight. No wobblies!

As far as user interface goes, I would change the menu display from icon view to list view right away, for the main menu (the icons are too small the first way). Other than that everything is laid out pretty nicely and it's generally a nice beginner phone with such advanced features as a speakerphone and full web access...and an information item for practically every option on the phone that, for example, tells what cell phone location or the contacts screen does. A nice touch.

Overall, the phone, aka the Kyocera KX-9D, is a great beginner phone with a few extra features that make it bearable for non-newbies. Aside from the painful lack of a caller ID screen, it's a sure-footed upgrade from the Audiovox 8610 which has been on Virgin Mobile's site and lining store shelves for about two years now. But I suppose I can forgive the omission of the caller ID display since the phone is $20 cheaper. Though having a big fat Virgin Mobile logo where the display should be is a bit annoying. But for the price I'll again forgive them their trespass. But then again I'm not getting Virgin Mobile anytime soon :).

And now for my defense of Total Call, with which I have zero affiliation thusfar so don't hatch any conspiracy theories yet. The service, while without a grace period (not too big of a deal; TMo doesn't have a grace period either as far as keeping your minutes is concerned) and with only 60 days of service on their cards, they do have their advantages.

First off, their 60-day refills start at $10. So $5 a month. Which is the cheapest I've found for 10 cent minutes. Yeah, that's the other grat thing about them. They work off Sprint, just like STi, except there are no fees like STi has and things look pretty stable. Tracfone is good for stuff like refver-a-friend bonuses etc. and roaming but Total Call looks great in the area of low monthly cost with no gimmicks (Trac's RAF counts as a gimmick in my eyes really) and low per-minute costs with no fees (hint hint and for me that's what counts when it comes to my main phone.

Monday, July 24, 2006


I'm now pretty happy to say that I'm going to be writing reviews and informnational blurbs on BabbleBug's site, and generally keeping the place up to date as far as prepaid cell phones are concerned. What's more, they're paying me for it!

But before you hatch any conspiracy theories, this site isn't going to change any to see BabbleBug through rose-tinted glasses. Of course, on the wireless phone card reviews I tried my best to just bring out the good in the carriers, but sometimes (like with STi Mobile) I did drop a very slight hint that someone may not like the fees\service.

But that's on their site and this is still very much mine. As I was saying, I'm still going to be perfectly unbiased here with regard to all the prepaid cell phones and services ot there. I'll just be able to test more of them and such because, well, I have a job. :)

If you want to take a look at what I've done for them so far, click the hotlinked title. All the little informational blurbs, and I mean all of them, for the wireless refills, are mine. Sweet, huh?

STi Mobile: Phone For Sale

Yes. You read the title right. My LG 225 camera phone is now officially for sale. It, a nearly brand new data cable, a great condition car charger and a mint-condition case, all for $60 shipped. The phone, which is in good condition and has around 15 downloaded ringtones, as well as Opera Mini and Google Local Mobile on it, won't be activated, as I'll be porting my number to Total Call Mobile, but there will be no disappearing 90-day airtime when you do activate it. Email me if you want the phone.

Why am I selling it?

Because I finally, after 8 months of sweat, tears and hot air, received my $100 rebate today for the phone. Total Call, though it doesn't have anything beyond text and voice, has 10 cent minutes the whole week long and has no fees, whereas STi's cheapest plan is 12 cents daytime, 10 cents nights and weekends, plus a mandatory 10 cent a day fee.

Why would you want it?

Because if you want a phone that has web access for cheap and can even tether at pretty high speeds (19 cents extra a day) and even do picture messaging (10 more cents a day and it's unlimited) this is a great phone and service to do it on, even with the 10 cent a day fee.

So while I detest the company for their LONG rebate period (I'm probably one of the last to receive my rebate though, judging from online posts) and their starting of the 10 cent daily fee and their disappearing airtime, you don't have to worry about points 1 and 3 when getting my old phone and point 2 is mitigated by cheap, unlimited, web & picture messaging access. Plus, as soon as you tell me you want the phone, I'll put an order in to Total Call so I'll have another phone and service to review.

So support this site and get the phone. And yes, it's a pretty darn good phone, with a camera to boot, for less than the price of any other camera phone on prepaid out there even without accessories. So yeah...:)

And by the way, I still have a Motorola i285 for sale ($30) and a Tracfone Motorola c139 (with 90.7 units now) for $25. Both figures are for the phone, shipped. Again, email me!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

You've Got Questions, We've Got Tracfones

This time it is RadioShack...

On their website (the particular page is hotlinked in the title) they now have both the Motorola v176 (in stunningly nice black) and the c261 (in black as well), albeit with notices that these phones are available in stores only. Darn. But you do get a good look at them and it is said that the v176 is just $40 after an instant rebte at RadioShack. That's pretty good...

Oystr (No It's Not Motorola), PhoneShark & STi

Sorry for the fact that the minutes page is still not up and I haven't posted any today. I've been busy working on some stuff for BabbleBug. More on that later.

But I did have enough time to stop by Wal-Mart again. And just last week they got a shipment of new Virgin Mobile phones. It looks as though they only put them out today though. The phone's name? The Oystr.

And yes. It's a clamshell phone. And interestingly it's made by Kyocera, the first Kyocera flip to my knowledge on Virgin Mobile. It has a tiny caller ID screen (is that a screen?), is white on the outside and black on the inside, and has a full duplex speakerphone. The price: $30 or close to it. Don't bother looking on Virgin Mobile's website for it quite yet. It's not there. Of course if someone really, really wanted it I'd send it to them for $37.50, but I don't think anyone wants it that bad; it will eventually show up on VM's site.

One other things: I checked PhoneShark's website (where my family gets their ultra-cheap 2.4 cents a minute long distance phone cards) and they're offering a fairly wide selection of STi Mobile phones, namely the LG 125, 225, 5225, Samsung a820 and Samsung a660. All but the LG 5225 and 225 have a $10 normal airtime card with them, as opposed to the $50 (5225) or $80 (125) in 'disappearing' airtime.

Most of the phones are overpriced but the Samsung, an interesting though not highly rated no caller ID flip, is $50 plus I think $10 for shipping. Personally, I would not get it, opting instead for Total Call Mobile. But I'm just throwing out options. Throw them out if you want :).

And by the way, My Motorola c139 is still for sale, with 90 units, for $30 shipped. I'm asking the same for my Boost i285, with a deactivated SIM. Both phones would include chargers and batteries of course.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Tracfone, Cingular, T-Mobile

First off, Tracfone's site has nothing new. Which is okay but not great; no c261 to be found...

Second, I talked with DealKing and their Cingular $30 cash back promo, just like with their TMo promo, also $30, has zero strings attached. Just buy the phone through the link and wait for the cash back.

Personally, I'd go with Cingular, not for the service but for the phones. For the same price as the Nokia 6010, and without the hassle of mailing in a rebate, you can get the Nokia 6030, which is a much newer phone.

But then again all T-Mobile phones ordered from their site right now come with a $25 card at no extra cost. So that's $40 worth of airtime (190 minutes) plus a Nokia 6010, which can be unlocked and sold on eBay if need be for $40 or so, for zippo after the mail-in rebate ($30) and the cash back. If you count the card value in, with cash back the Samsung x495 is $15 (I medded up with the last post; the phone is $70 without anything, not $60). The Nokia 6101, also fairly easy to unlock, and a camera phone, is a mere $45 by this logic. And now the Samsung t319 camera ph0one is available on T-Mobile To Go at the same price, but I'd go with the Nokia still.

So It's your choice. Either Cingular service and a pretty wide selection of free or nearly free, though basic phones, or T-Mobile and a fair amount of airtime on some ppretty nice, though pretty cheap, phones. Razrs are available on each carrier for $250, though of course on T-Mobile the $25 card is included. But I'd just get one elsewhere for $170 + shipping (this somewhere would be

Hope this helps everyone. If I wasn't so dirt poor for having to save up for a laptop I would already have the Nokia on its way, but I can't afford to wait for another mail-in rebate.

And sorry about not having up the Tracfone minutes page today. I'll have it up tomorrow most likely.


OK so I went to Wal-Mart again yesterday. And they had the Movida phones out again. Both the LG 225 and the LG 125. So much for being interesting that way...

Also, has just put out a new special, from T-Mobile. They are offering $30 cash back on all phones, preapaid or postpaid. Which makes the Nokia 6010 free after the cash back and a $30 mail-in rebate. Not too shabby. The Nokia 6101 cameraphone is taken down to $70 this way, and the Smasung x495 would be only $30. The Razr with T-Mobile would be $230 and the new Sidekick 3 would be around $370.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

S is for Stats...and Siemens

First off, this will be a relatively short post, as there are no questions to be aswered or new products to be touted etc., though Cingular is trying to get EVERYONE off their TDMA network. Instead of working on this post I'll be handcrafting the page where I'll sell the Tracfone airtime and such. It will be up tomorrow, hopefully.

I actually have Google Analytics on this site, as well as my nice counter (thanks StatCounter!) so I can get a good picture of how many people are coming to my site and where from and what system stats they have (OS, browser, screen resolution, things like that, nothing personal really). Here are some interesting stats\site facts:

210 page views yesterday, 180 the Wednesday before that
61.34% of people who visit my site use Internet Explorer, 30.52% use Firefox
91.42% of people who visit my site use Windows; 5.67% are on a Mac
The ratio of cable\DSL users who visit to dialup users is about 4 to 1
I get about a quarter of my visits from Google searches, twice as much as MSN and Yahoo combined

Well, at least I thought this was interesting :).

OK and so the other part of this post is to say that I will be getting a Siemens s56 from none other than the Cell Guru in the very near future. It's GSM, has Bluetooth and has field test, all of which are nice features. Of course I'll post a review of the phone a little after I receive the phone.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


OK, so I go to my local Wal-Mart Supercenter to deposit a few rebate checks and such (Woodforest bank, my bank until I figure out something better, has a branch there). And I idly walk to the back of the store to see what's on display at the Connection Center (of course!).

To my surprise, the only prepaid carriers available are Tracfone and Virgin Mobile! Granted, Boost had disappeared months ago (Nextel is still sold, along with Sprint, for postpaid, and only those two carriers), but now Movida is nowhere to be found. I guess there wasn't enough interest or something...

Which leaves the Kyocera K10 at $20, the Audiovox 8610 for $50 (I think; there were no price tags on that phone) and the Snapper (8915) for $90. Tracfone's sole representative is the Nokia 2126, at the everyday low price of $20. Here's to diversity *cough* *cough*. Probably because no GSM carrier has local numbers here.

Speaking of 2126s, I got a few requests to buy the phone. Well, two of you missed it this time, but if someone wants 120 minutes for $12 and someone else (or the same person) wants at least 170 minutes for $17 (I won't charge any more, just this once), then voila I have another Nokia 2126 with 0 units available for $10!

Speaking of dollars and cents, besides the 2126 I sold my Nokia 6010 today! I myself am impressed for a post that was only online for maybe 6 hours. But I still have three phones I want to say goodbye to. Take a look at the post and email me if you're interested.

Tracfone Minutes\Phones for Sale

OK everyone! I'm back at my home in Texas now so I can start selling Tracfone minutes. If you want them, contact me at This will also be the PayPal address (that's probably the only payment method I'll accept). All PINs\codes will be emailed. All phones will be mailed probably using UPS, but I'm not quite sure on that yet. The main thing I want to do is sell minutes; you can get the phones off of for cheaper than I can provide them really, since all I'm doing is getting them from there anyway. For all minutes beside the real cards, I'll need ESN, phone # and expiration date. Once I get enough requests I'll start ordering with Tracfone. After which time things will be a lot faster. Though the real cards will always get sent faster than ESN minutes. And the variance between 140 and 200 minutes is because I'm not sure how many minutes promo codes will get me.

OK, so here are the cards\minutes and prices:

60 minute card (will email the PIN number, but it is a real card) - $10
120 minutes, ESN specific (refer a friend with one of my phones on the referring end) - $12
140-200 minutes, ESN specific (minute xfers from my phones) - 10 cents a minute (so $14-$20)
Nokia 1100 with 140-200 minutes - 10 cents a minute plus $10 (so $24-$30), shipped

As I said, just contact me via email, And as said, the first batches of minutes will take a few days but everything after that will be faster. Probably this weekend I'll put up a normal webpage for selling my stuff. Until then, just email me.

Also, I have too many phones! Below is a list of the phones (all in perfect or excellent condition) and prices that I want for them, shipped, with home charger:
Motorola c139 with 90+ units (95.7 now), low life timer - $25
Motorola i285 (Boost) with TeleNav, Racing Fever GT, farly low life timer, inactive SIM - $30
SOON - LG 225 STi Mobile w\lots of ringers, deactivated (but can be reactivated), car charger, leather case, data cable, Opera Mini, Google Local Mobile - $70 (no 90-day airtime junk)

Soon I'll be able to get other phones which may make me able to consolidate even more, so I may have another phone or two on sale soon. Support me (yeah, this site is free for me but I put a ton of work into it) and help me get enough money to, oh, review the Motorola c261 or some other nice new phone, which I will then eventually sell for pretty cheap here. Again, offers go to, which is also my PayPal address.

Tracfones with Free Incoming Text

I was asked (your comments all get emailed to me as soon as they are posted) what Tracfones have free incoming text. This is an important question for some people who, for example, use IM on their phone or have various alerts sent to it. So let me start by saying that none of the new GSM Tracfones will have free incoming text. It will be charged at 0.3 units. Sorry...

So here's the short list of the phones that have free incoming text:
Nokia 3390 (old)
Nokia 1100
Nokia 2600
Motorola c155
Motorola v170

Personally, I think that the Nokia 1100 would be the best phone for text. It's cheap and the buttons are nice and big, with good feedback. As an added bonus you have a (mono) ringtone composer and Nokia rock-solidness. Look back several posts for my review of this phone.

About MetroPCS

Someone commented that if MetroPCS made roaming free then their high rate would be justified.

But, you see, MetroPCS is a wholly different breed of cellular service...and this is why they can get away with 49-79 cent roaming charges...

MetroPCS (and Cricket Communications, as well as some local carriers' plans) uses CDMA 1xRTT towers to make as much voice bandwidth available as possible, then sells unliomited plans on their towers, and their towers only (thus no roaming charges etc.) for a prie that is actually quite good. If you're going to use the phone like a cheapo landline (no voicemail etc.) then you pay only a little more than what you'd pay for a landline. If you want all the features and long distance you'll be paying about $50 a month...not bad for a phone you can take with you.

But you can't take your landline out of the house very far, and likewise MetroPCS can only offer unlimited service on their own towers, because roaming rates are high.

And the reason Metro has such expensive roaming is they probably buy the minutes nearly piecemail from the other carriers to keep costs low (and thus keep plans cheap). Besides, most people with Metro phones rarely travel out of the Metro coverage area, even though it's pretty small.

Personally, if you have MetroPCS in your area and don't mind paying the unsubsidized cost of the phone you're going to buy and don't travel much, then you'll get a really good deal compared to another, normal, postpaid plan (Metro is actually technically prepaid, and there's no contract). If you want to roam, just get a GSM Tracfone.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Trac Minutes,, STi Mobile Phone

OK, so I'm ging to be back home from all my trips tonight. WHich means that I'll be able to modify this site a little easier and everything, and I'll start selling Tracone airtime n earnest.

As to the expirations on the airtime, the 60 minute card will be normal (60 days), as will the 120 minutes, though only the 60-minute card can reactivate a dead phone etc. The larger airtime increment I'm not quite sure about, but I'm pretty sure it will extend the expiration date to around 4 months from when you get the airtime (4 months from when I activate the phone you're actually transferring the airtime from).

Next, I spent a lot of time last night reading the saga at aka I'd say it's a pretty good read. Lot of other people thought so; the site has had millions upon millions of hits and hundreds f thousands of backlinks, even though it's only a month old. Most of the backlinks occoured within the irst week or two.Yeah, it's that interesting. The situation has been pretty well resolved but the story remains interesting. As I said, I'd check it out.

Last, CheapPhoneCards has the Nokia 3588i with a $10 card, on STi Mobile, for $40 again. Normally I would keep STi products away from everybody now with a 12-foot pole but this phone comes with real airtime, not airtime that expires in 90 days, and the phone is very inexpensive.

See everyone tomorrow!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I'm Not RadioShack But...'ve got questions, I've got answers.

As to whether Tracfone uses Sprint, the answer is a resounding No. At least as a primary carrier. The biggest CDMA carrier they use is Verizon. And the reason they have small coverage areas for CDMA is probably to get the cheapest minutes from whatever carrier they're buying minutes from. So if you want the full network as non-roaming you sign up on that carrier's prepaid or postpaid plan...the former if they have one. Anyhow the fact remains that the only thing Tracfone uses Sprint for s if you're roaming of of them, which is very rare.

And for a quick comparison between the Nokia 2126 and the 2600 I'd be inclined to say that the former is a better phone for less money. Though this is probably because it's newer. But I think that the 2600 is slightly more customizeable and it's GSM...just depends on what network you want.

As to whether I can keep providing 120 minutes for $12, 60 minute cards for $10 and a higher minute amount (may be as low as 140, may be as high as 200) for 10 cents a minute on Tracfone, I can do it just as long as can get the refurb Nokia 1100 with 60 minutes deal off of Tracfone's website. And bar that things will get more expensive but 120 minutes as far as I can see will always be cheaper my way than by using a normal $30 card. Anyone interested?

Tracfone Clarification, Why is Net10 GSM?

To answer a question in a previous comment, look at Tracfone's coverage map for your area. If the phone you want to buy, using the tip I mentioned a few posts ago, is listed on your map then you're good to go, complete with a local number. If not, you'll have to setle for a long distance number and maybe roaming or no service. Only get a Tracfone from a different zip if you knw that that particular technology on that particular carrier will work in your area.

And about Net10, yes, they only offer GSM phones. This is probably due to Cingular\T-Mobile offering Tracfone better rates than the numerous CDMA providers out there that they have contracts with. Also, Net10 promises no roamng charges, which Tracfone CDMA doesn't deliver but Tracfone GSM does. Personally, if you want Net10 rates you can get them with Tracfone phones, courtesy my airtime that I'm going to start selling soon (see the last post for my rates).

Hope this helps.

Promo Code 58094

I just read about this code on HowardForums. It gets 40-60 extra minutes...even on refer-a-friend minutes!

Which gets me thinking. Would anyone like 120 minutes (promo-able with the two codes) for $12? They would be ESN-tied minutes (refer a friend with your phone as the referrer and a phone I buy as the one referred). How about 180 or 200 minutes for $18 or $20? This would also be tied to an ESN, but it would be a code you'd put into Code Entry Mode on your phone. And lastly, would anyone like a normal 60-minute card, which could get 90 (54606 code) or 100-120 (58094) minutes, for $10? If so, please comment on this post If I get enough response I'll do this (payment via PayPal) and it'll give me enough money to buy the Motorola c261 when it comes out on the web.

Hope the code helps!

Tracfone Stuff, c139 on GoPhone

First off, the Motorola c261 is out in the wild. It's at Wal-Mart, but not on Tracfone's site. But people say it's priced around $80.

I'd like to review the phone, but the price is sorta steep at the rate at which I get funds from the ads on this blog. To help raise money, I'll be selling some of my phones as son as I get back to Texas. Granted, the Motorola v170 used to cost this much, but then again I didn't get that phone either.

OK and now let me ell you how to rig Tracfone's phone selection page. No, really.

Go to the phone selection page by putting in your own zip. Then look at the URL. There will be a part that says "tech=?????" where ????? is either TO, CO or GSM4. If you edit the URL to have the first as the tech, you'll get TDMA phones, namely the Motorola v60it, which is no good (that's what happened in my zip...big messup on racfone's part). For CO you get CDMA phones, namely the Nokia 2126 with starter kit. For GSM4 you get...GSM phones, hich consist of the Motorola v170, c155 and c139, and the Nokia 1100 and 2600, with various "free phone" promos on the v170 and the 1100. Hope this helps whoever wants to get whatever phone. Thanks to CellGuru for this tip.

And last: Motorola's c139 is now available on Cingular GoPhone. For $39.99. Personally I'd pass it up at this price. At $30 it's a dubious value for the money, with monophonic ringtones and a pretty small, low-res screen and an interface that doesn't use it well, at least in my opinion. But it does have nearly 11 hours of talk time. But why would you talk for 11 hours on a GoPhone? Sounds expensive to me, even if you have Pck Your Plan. ;) Yeah, I know, standby times are also better...but personally I would get the Nokia 6030 for $10 cheaper.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Technology Comparison

NOTE: I had my acronym wrong on HSDPA. Now it's right...

So some people may be wondering what GSM, CDMA, TDMA, AMPS, iDEN, 1xRTT. WiDEN, EV-DO, GPRS, EDGE, UMTS and HSDPA all are. Well, let me tell you and show the advantages and disadvantages of each of the three main networks out now (CDMA, GSM, iDEN), and how all the rest of the aforementioned technologies fit into these three technologies.

But first let me start off with the "moldy oldies," AMPS and TDMA. AMPS, Advanced Mobile Phone System, is what everybody usually calls Analog. Sometimes, through some happenstance of chance caller ID information or text messaging somehow get through on this network, but usually the only thing that gets through is voice. I low signal areas that voice is staticy. But this is the network of the "bag phones" which can operate dozens of miles from a cell tower and still receive a signal. Of course, you can do that with a digital phone and an amplifier too. But analog was (and is, for those carriers that let people use it, or use it mainly) insecure (you can use a scanner to pick up conversations), prone to static and really hard on battery life. For example, the Nokia 3560, which I used to have, could last 11 days in standby on TDMA digital (mre on it later) but only a mere 42 hours on analog. And because of such high battery power requirements, even the best phones would heat up ater prolonged talking.

Then came TDMA. Because of the digital signal, as opposed to an analog one, phones usually had clearer voice quality, even in lower-signal areas. They also had much longer battery life, due to the fact that signals were usually not transmitted with as much power. And now Caller ID could work well, as well as text messaging and even data acess, though it was only a quarter as fast as a dialup modem and was not widely used. Oh, and the phones were smaller. But this technology was supplanted, as is evident by the activation cutoff for new prepaid lines by February of this year, by either CDMA or GSM, with GSM relying on much of the same technology...

...but usually better. GSM uses a SIM card (Subscriber Identity Module) to store people's phone number, network information, and even some or all of their address book. So if you need to change phones on GSM, merely swith out the SIM card with another phone that's either on the same carrier or is "unlocked," or ready for any carrier's SIM. GSM seems to be even lower-power than TDMA, probably because it does away with analog compatibility altogether (TDMA and CDMA largely keep this capability), and thus you can make smaller batteries and thus smaller phones and thus the Motorola Razr and SLVR and related phones, which are a half inch or less thick. By the way, TDMA (GSM is based on TDMA; GSM stands for Global Standard Mobile) stands for Time Division Multiple Access, meaning that the conversation's data is seperated from everyne else's by being in its own teensy time slot. As said, GSM is just a new network type using this way of working with calls.

But also GSM has faster data speeds, through GPRS (Global Packet Radio System) and EDGE (Enhanced Data GSM Experience? don't remember the last word), which are special improvements made to the network so data packets can travel faster over the airaves, making uch stuff as picture messaging (and thus camera phones) and relatively painless web browsing possible. GPRS boosts speeds to about that of a 56k modem., but with longer latencies, the time it takes for a request to get from point A to point B. And EDGE boosts speeds to twice or three times that, but again with latency problems. GPRS and EDGE have "classes" within them to determine how fast a particular device will go on that technology. That's right: not all EDGE and GRS handsets are created speed-equal. Some are class 4, some class 6, some class 11. And you would naturally want class 11. Both these technologies have been rolled out nationwide on all major GSM networks.

Short break here: people talk about 2G, 2.5G and 3G, and even 4G networks. What G means is generation, with each generation providing even faster data speeds. 1G was nalog, such as AMPS. 2G was digital, such as early CDMA (CDMAOne), TDMA, GSM and iDEN with slow data rates. 2.5G is a bit faster, inhabited mainly by GPRS, bt also by Nextel's new WiDEN (Wide iDEN). Some people say there's 2.75G, a spot for the likes of CDMA 1xRTT and EDGE, though usually the former goes to 3G even though it's sort of slow for the category and the latter goes into the 2.5G category though it's a little fast for that classification.

Then there's 3G, with speeds at least as fast as a slow DSL connection, but with the potential to get really, really fast. CDMA 1x EV-DO (aka EV-DO) is the big entry here, as well as its Revision A version (currently most systems that use this technology are Revision 0). The other player is UMTS and its EDGE-like enhancement, HSDPA, which can get really fast but is in few places as of yet. Oh, and 3G is usually only available in metro areas right now, but it will eventually be everywhere.

And 4G? Think fast! Really, really fast! As in DSL speeds on one bar of signal, cable speeds with a good signal. Yeah, that fast from a cell tower. Or try 11Mbps...yeah, WiFi in the sky aka WiMax...these networks are all in testing stages except for very, very small carriers' networks...

OK, now back to GSM, whose next leap upward is to UMTS, or rather to incorperate UMTS. At first, phones using this technology were quite bulky, but soon they assumed a normal profile. Except that they work at 300 to 400 kbps in UMTS areas, around the speed of a low DSL connection. Interestingly, UMTS, aka WCDMA\Wide CDMA, is a totally different system than GSM, not just a simple upgrade, and that's why it's taking so long to happen. But this is the whiz-bang tech Europe and everywhere else is using, mainly because they're GSM junkies and this is the upgrade path.

The next step in the progression is HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access), which is again sorted n classes. Class 10 promises 14.4Mbps data rates. Probably it will really work around 10, if that. Right now they're only using up to Class 8 or 9, about the speed of a cable connection i it's maxed out, slower if you don't hold your mouth right ;). Again, this technology is only a few places in the US.

And thus the saga of GSM is completed. Now for CDMA...

CDMA started as the variant now called CDMAOne. Instead of time it uses a code to divide up people's conversations. And later in its progression it got CDMA2000 1xRTT, a fully backward compatible system (with CDMAOne) that could pack twice as many voice users in the same amount of radio "space" and extremely raise data speeds as well. That's why Qualcomm, the company who makes a ton of CDMA stuf, calls it 3G. The maimum speed for this network is 135kbps, and on multisource downloads, as everyone knows, I have gotten perilously close to that speed. :)

Then 3G happened. EV-DO is more widespread than UMTS or HSPDA, though it's supposedly slower than the latter. But it's still smoking, with normal data rates hovering between 400 and 700 kbps. Small problem: upstream bandwidth is only about a tenth of that. But no matter; just get Revision A, while UMTS\HSPDA is still trying to make video calling work. Revision A, due out soon, ups upstream speeds to 200-400 kbps. Ahh, much better. Oh, and the technology follows a logical, easy succession. Thus the pretty darn nice EV-DO coverage across the US, though it is sadly by no means nationwide.

Lastly, iDEN. This network, similar to GSM in that it now uses SIM cards (and has since 2003 or so), is built (by Motorola) around wakie talkie. It uses a special region of the frequency spectrum that normal cell carriers don't use (usually two carriers fit on the 850 "cellular" band and lots of carriers fit on the 1900MHz "PCS band, more on that later) for its glorified two-way radio existence. Yep, all Nextel phones are are glorified two-way radios. Yeah, I know, iDEN isn't ONLY Nextel, but that's what it is mostly. Anyway, we all know that iDEN\Nextel s famous for it's ultra-fast "Bleep Bleep" walkie-talkie]Direct Connect service. And by the way it's digital and based on TDMA as well. Only, it's not ad advanced in many areas as CDMA or GSM. For example, its fastest data technology, WiDEN (Wide integrated Digital Enhanced Network) is only about the speed of a 56k modem. But it's not nationwide. What's nationwide is about 1\3 of that speed. And, due to the technology, iDEN phones are comparatively huge, and if they're not huge (merely medium-sizzed) battery life suffers even more. As in standby battery life goes down from 75 hours at standby to 60 or even 42. But thats the price you pay for fast walkie talkie coast to coast. Though another perk is that all new phones have reasonably good GPS, so you can find your way around. But CDMA carriers are getting GPS too.

OK. That's it. Let me rehash the pluses and minuses of CDMA, GSM and iDEN...

CDMA (Verizon, Sprint PCS)
+Fast data speeds (1x or EV-DO)
+Great voice quality
+Very good 3G coverage thusfar (talking about EV-DO)
+GPS aided services coming very, very soon
+Very developed network
-Phones usually aren't as small as GSM
-No SIM cards
-Roaming not good for features

GSM (T-Mobile, Cingular)
+SIM cards
+Phones are either small or have great battery life or both
+Future for high speed data is bright
+International compatibility
+Roaming, if available, is seamless and full-featured
-Low 3G penetration
-Not fast for nationwide data
-Not as great voice quality
-Looks like no GPS stuff coming
-Hard transition to UMTS\HSPDA for high speed data

iDEN (Nextel)
+Very mature GPS solution
+Walkie service is still the fastest on the market
-Not very many walkie talkie features
-Low voice quality
-Low data speeds
-Large phones
-Poor Battery life
-Low coverage

Personally, I'm a CDMA junkie because of high data speeds and large coverage footprint. But I keep GSM because the phones and services become more interesting every other day. And most of my extended family has Nextel, and I like using TeleNav, so I keep Boost Mobile around.
Hope this post has served to unconfuse everyone about what this, that r the other technology is all about. If not, please comment and I'll see what I can do to clear things up.

Total Call Clarification

Just to let everyone know, my focus was on the prepaid version of Total Call Mobile rather than the postpaid version. The disadvantage of prepaid is that you have to pay for the phones. And on postpaid you can roam, but of course get ready or arm-and--leg charges to do so. And don't worry too much; you can most likely keep your number when transferring to Total Call.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Sprint Phones

OK, so I looked on Sprint's site and, lo and behold, there is no mention of their no contract plan anywhere, even when I put in th zip of the Nextel store that had the brochure about the plans that included the little thing in it. Wierd.

But one thing I do know is that the cheapest phone, non contract, is a steep $150. Ouch, if that's the price month by month customers have to pay.

Tracfones and Total Call Phones

First off, sory but I didn't have quite the time online to find out Sprint phone pricing just yet. Maybe later today, tonight or tomorrow...

But anyway I looked at Tracfone's website and, while their GSM selection has remained the same, the only CDMA phone they're offering now is the Motorola v60i, for $60. Yeah, the black-and-white flip with a black-and-white external display. Blech.

If anyone wants a Nokia 2126 still, my local Wal-Mart probably has them. Just email me and when I get back to Texas (Wednesday probably) I'll check. If there are any left, my price will be $30 shiped for the phone activated, with at least 140 minutes (I'll email the refer-a-friend code to speed things up; the phone will come with 20 minutes loaded on it), or $35 shipped unactivated. To cut down on shipping costs, I'd be scrapping the package, just sending the phone, charger, battery, manual and whatever other materials are actually useful.
OK and now for the results of my call to Total Call Mobile's customer service: the pricng for their phones. Which is on the high side for new phones but is OK for refurbs. I'll probably get a Nokia 3588 soon. And if their service is good I'll become an agent so I can get the phones cheaper and sell them cheaper to whoever wants them, since they seem like a pretty good service. And now for the phone prices:

UTStarcom 7000 (color flip, no external screen, speakerphone) - $95LG 225 (camera phone, dual color displays, what I have) - $160Samsung a660 refurb (junky phone like UTStarcom 7000) - $70Nokia 3588 refurb (fairly good, basic bar phone) - $40

Yeah, prices are high for the new kids on the block, even though Sprint is using these prepaids to clear out overstock inventory. But the refurb Nokia, as I said before, isn't so bad. I would say wait and let me take the plunge in a month or so. Or not...I don't mind someone else reviewing it before I do. But my mouth's watering at 10 cents a minute with $5 a month as the minimum.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Tale of Four Carriers

When I first thought of doing this post I thought I was only going to do it about two carriers: Movida and Airlink Mobile. But when I was looking for Movida's rates I came across an article about the MVNO on (never heard of them until yesterday). After reading a few more articles I saw a link to Beyond Wireless GSM and above that link, or rather ad minibanner, was an ad for Total Call Mobile. Lastly, I decided to include Sprint's own new offering, its first just-for-no-contracts offering.

Speaking of Sprint, that's the carrier that all four of these services run on. Here's to variety!

These guys have been around for a little while now, and thus have upgraded their phones from the lowly Nokia 2270 to such models as the LG 125 and 225, at $50 and $100 each. Wait! Aren't those the same two phone models that STi Mobile sells? Yup. It seems Sprint has an overstock of them and wants to get rid of them...for cheap. Another phone the two carriers have in common, and probably for the same reason, is the Sanyo 200. The only thing obviously different between STi and Movida versions of the LG phones is that Movida phones have the Movida logo instead of the STi Mobile logo on the outside. Movida also has the UTStarcom 7000 (the company that was Audiovox) for $50, a phone that you'll see popping up all over the Sprint-based prepaid market (yeah, there are lots of little-known Sprint-based prepaids, mostly hybrids, out there).

The packages are a bit different too, though both carriers use yellow a lot...but I digress. Movida hable espanol primo lingo. I don't. :) STi doesn't either. But you can "Press 2 for English" and the package has English on it also.

But personally, aside from free incoming text, I don't see too much of a reason for an English-speaker to prefer these guys over anyone else, except maybe in special cases. Their MovidaUno plan is a flat 20 cents per minute. Virgin Mobile is two cents per minute cheaper, and their phones are cheaper, at least for low-end models. Their MovidaPlus plan is 50 cents per day, INPulse style (every single day; $14-$15.50 a month, at least to my knowledge) plus 10 cents per minute on weekdays or (!) 5 cents a minute on weekends. All refill cards, starting at $20, last 60 days. Calling Mexico on the former plan is 5 cents a minute extra, 10 cents a minute extra on the latter plan. Latino-oriented services, as well as cheaper (not cheap) international long distance to Central and South America abound. But prob ably most of us here aren't looking for that. Hence its clear purpose as a niche carrier.

AirLink Mobile
When I walked into Cumberland Farms last night to see and sputter at STi Mobile (their $100 mail-in rebate for my LG 225 camera phone is several months overdue) I almost thought they were selling Cingular GoPhones, with this carrier's similar orange-and-blue color scheme. But when I saw the phone, a UTStarcom 7000 (see I told ya it's a common one) for a mere $29.95 I knew these guys were something different. Of course they're on Sprint. And out of the dark recesses of my mind I remembered that they were hybrid. They are, or rather they're a contract carrier without the contract or the extra fees.

You see, you pay $40+ per month for unlimited nights and weekends and a small pool o anytime minutes...with your credit card or other similar means of payment. Overages are bought with "Select Talk Minutes" (whatever those are). They are, however, a little better of a deal than STi Mobile's Plan 3, even the $10 option which is also cheaper per month, though their nights start at 9 versus STi's 7 p.m. (by the way both these guys' "nights end at 6:59 a.m.; Virgin Mobile's? Midnight; that's why they're now called "Prmetime Minutes")...

$10 buys 30 weekday minutes and lasts 7 days
$20 buys 90 and lasts 14
$30 buys 150 and lasts 21
$50 buys 350 and lasts 30
$75 buys 750 and lasts 30

Interested? Me either. I don't talk that much...but then again I am not\have not a girlfriend ;)

Total Call Mobile
I need to call these guys. If their phones aren't too expensive, I'm switching from STi Mobile. Yeah, they show that much promise.

You see, they too offer the LG 225 (deja vu) and the UTStarcom 7000 (deja vu all over again) for what price I know not. But I do know that they promise cheap international long distance (didn't look at pricing; I don't call outside the US) and for national calls the price is a mere 10 cents a minute! Yeah, I know that Net10 and Amp'd have this price but a $10 card on Total Call lasts 60 days, as opposed to $30 (Net10) or $20 (Amp'd). Which means that with no hassles I can use 50 minutes a month for $5 a month. Nice. Text messages are nothing special, at 5 cents per message both ways. And with the LG 225 as their flagship phone they have room to grow. I hope they do.

Sprint Month To Month Calling Plan
This plan, only available for Sprint PCS (Nextel has Boost Mobile's $50-a-month Premium plan with significantly more features), is a first for the company: something designed specifically for no-contract users with the Sprint brand name on it. The price: $39.99 a month,with no asterisks mentioning extra fees! If that's true then yay Sprint. If not then welcome to ripof city. Anyway, what you get is 200 minutes a month. That's it, though overages are charged at $10 for 100 minutes up to 1000 additional, then 10 cents a minute.

But you can add free roaming (nice!), unlimited nights starting at 7 (nothing about weekends) and\or unlimited mobile-to-mobile for $5 apiece per month. Not to shabby considering this is a month-to-month plan. Normally roaming is 50 cents a minute plus 25 cents long distance (the latter charge may or may not be charged). Compare this to Verizon EasyPay's you-can't-get-out-of-it 99 cent roaming charge when using towers other than Verizon's.

But then again the plan is pretty expensive (20 cents a minute) for what it delivers, and you'll get zero subsidies on phones. Ouch! But then again Sprint's "before service credits" prices on their phones aren't as ridiculously high as their iDEN half's are.I'll find out exactly how high tomorrow. But then again, this is more geared for higher minute users. But then again it's intersting to see.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

App Review: MapQuest Mobile (T-Mobile To Go)

First off, this program is $3.99 for 30 days, a far cry from $1.50 per route or $5 for 4 routes, which TeleNav for Boost Mobile charges. Then again, Google Local Mobile\Google Maps Mobile is free. You just have to pay for internet access. Which is 19 cents a day on STi...a little more expensie per month but in my opinion better...

The other disclaimer I have is that I tested this on a Nokia 6010, which doesn't have a very large screen and isn't a top-of-the-line phone. Those disclaimers aside...

MapQuest Mobile is a good choice for people who use MapQuest a lot. I don't. The driving directions are not relative to where you are (GSM phones don't have GPS capability), though Vindigo (which powers MapQuest Mobile) has its own hole in T-Mobile's To Go firewall in order to get whatever information or maps you want. But as far as maps go, they're slow to navigate on the 6010, slower even than navigating maps on an LG 225 with Google Local mobile, and the maps aren't as pretty. No sattelite\hybrid views either.

But then again, if T-Mobile To Go is your only phone, this is your only choice as far as I can tell.I'd give it a 2.5\5.

Game Review: Lode Runner (T-Mobile)

Sorry; this game review was due out yesterday but upon taking out my USB PC card from my laptop the whole thing locked up. And I didn't save my here goes the review, again...

The game took maybe 30 seconds to download (GPRS isn't exactly fast) and takes a mere 64k of memory space on the phone. Okay, the Nokia games already loaded on the phone are maybe 10k smaller but they don't have 60 stages.

Yes, the little game, which seems like an 80s platform climber (fine for cell phones since theydon't have much graphics power), has an incredible 60 stages, through which your guy runs around and digs, yes, digs, to collect various coins and other powwer-ups, evading enemies guessed it...digging.

If you're into this type of game, this title won't disappoint, though its user interface is sort of hard to use with a Nokia 6010, which doesn't have a 4-way D-pad. But the game is still playable, and load times aren't too long.

For $4.99 from T-Mobile To Go's Games & Apps store, this may be a nice choice for some, but I personally, and only personally, wish I had at least used an eBay SIM (thus only spending $1.70 or so real money). But my brothers like it actually (they are the ones who played it most) so I'd
give it 3.5\5.

Forthcoming Reviews:
MapQuest Mobile (T-Mobile To Go)
Racing Fever GT (Boost Mobile)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Customer Service Experiences

OK, so I've been in contact with a large portion of the prepaid service providers out there. And some people may be wondering how each carrier's customer service measures up. Here, in a nutshell, are my experiences with the various prepaids that my eight (!) cell phones spread over; if anyone wants to add their experiences, please add a comment to this post...

TRACFONE (Nokia 1100, Motorola c139 on Cingular, Nokia 2126 on Verizon)These guys are getting more helpful, and sometimes I get someone on the ther end who sounds like he's in the States, which is really nice given that Tracfone is a pretty big company. When I had a problem with my Nokia 1100's number, right after activation, their executive resolutions department, whse number I have since lost, got the situation fixed with not too much difficulty. The only bad thing about these guys' CS is their website. The refer-a-friend probram is almost always a wreck, saying your phone isn't valid or whatnot, and sometimes it isn't valid because you tried too late or whatnot. And the 72-our wait period for refer-a-friend minutes is sometimes uncomfortably longer. But when the minutes come in everything's I'd say their Customer Sevice, bar their RAF program, is pretty good...

BOOST MOBILE (Motorola i285, i450, had i415)These guys have the highest ratio of total Americans to otherwise that I've seen in prepaid, or at least close to it. Unfortunately, they don't seem to know what they're doing too well. I'm still trying, after my fourth call or so, to fix an issue with TeleNav on my i450 (it won't let me buy additional routes) and they keep saying "Here, we'll send the settings; turn your phone off and on" no avail. Too bad...I'd say these guys are merely OK.

MOVIL LISTO (Siemens a56)Um...the reps I've talked to are, to put it bluntly, unprofessional. Sorry, but every rep I've talked to seems a little annoyed and a little clueless, though they usually know just enough to get done what I really, really need to get done (namely setting up voicemail). But generally this company's custoer service is indie in a bad way.

BEYOND WIRELESS TDMA (had Nokia 3560, 5165)These guys were indie in a good way. They generally knew their stuff and helped a lot in setting me up and answering my questions. Heck, customer service even worked in the roaming area! Too bad Beyond TDMA can't do any new activations, and the entwork is roaming in my area, and their new GSM wing seems to have customer service reps that are a but more arrogant, taking a card from the deck of MovilListo, or maybe vice versa. But they were good. Really good.

T-MOBILE TO GO (Nokia 6010, probably soon Nokia 6030)These people are generally helpful, professional, etc. I can see why T-Mobile got the J D Power award for Customer Service several times in a row. For what I need to know, they know what to do. Unfortunately, their customer service seems to be degrading a little, and it takes about 4 keypresses through their voice menu to get to the reps. Sometimes though they don't know the answers to my questions, or give answers that are obviously incorrect\uninformed (they said, as I was calling them from a SunCom tower, that their only roaming partner for To Go is Cingular). So they have to settle for a mere "Good" in my estimation. Yes, that's right, Tracfone bests them. Then again, both carriers have started charging for incoming texts onall their services, but Tracfone receently made their minutes cheaper, while T-Mobile's minutes are now a tad more expensive on one of their cards.

STI MOBILE (LG 225, had LG 5225, Samsung a820)I'm, quite frankly, not happy with these guys. Their terms now are such that they seem to be moving out of the prepaid space and into the hybrid space. That aside, their customer service can do basic stuff, like enabling and disabling web and answering various questions, if everything works right, but at times they don't knw answers to questions, or can't explain why I can't do this or haven't received that (this as in web, that as in my $100 rebate). And if they say they'll call you in whatever amount of time, they won't. They never have called me back. And something's fishy when, 7 1\2 months after I sent it in, my rebate check still isn't here! Their CS needs improvement. As do their pricing. Otherwise I'll gladly see them out of business.

And that's all the experience I've had with the various carriers that I've actually had phones with. I hope this is a worthy 200th post. By the way, happy birth day Go4Prepaid! Somewhere around today you're one year old! I would have some sort of sweepstakes, but right now I have to funnel all money into getting a laptop for school. Sorry, everyone. Maybe when I get my 6030 something will pop up...but stay tuned...

T-Mobile and Java and Games, Oh My!

As I was calling T-Mobile To Go's tech support from South Carolina the day before yesterday about who all they could roam on (the rep said Cingular only; my phone said SunCom...hmmm...) I asked if there was anything new on T-Zones. The rep said yes.

I went there and yes, there is a nice new part of T-Zones called "Applications" n the "Web & Applications" section.

In this place you can buy (whip out your $30-for-$10 eBay SIMs everyone!) a boatload of Java apps, ranging from MapQuest Mobile (a poor, $4 substitute for Google Maps Mobile\Google Local Mobile) to the platform game Lode Runner to MotoGP 2 racing and a lot in between. MapQuest and Lode Runner, respectively $3.99 for 30 days and $4.99 forever, ran fine, albeit a little cramped, on my unlocked Cingular Nokia 6010, soon to be replaced with an unlocked Cingular Nokia 6030. And yes, MapQuest works even through T-Mobile To Go's not-so-permissive WAP deck.

When I get the latter phone I'll buy (courtesy another eBay SIM) and review other T-Mobile apps and games here. As it stands, I'll review MapQuest Moble and Lode Runner in subsequent posts, to give everyone something to come back to my blog for. Okay, I broke their little "for you only on your phone only" Term & Condition I suppose by letting my brothers play Lode Runner, but oh well, at least that kept them off of my LG 225 and\or my back during our long car trip yesterday and the day before.

So stay tuned, and props to T-Mobile for being the second to have a nice game\app store for prepaid and not charge you bandwidth to download the apps\games (hint hint Cingular; Boost Mobile was the first carrier to do this). And no, GPRS isn't fast for downloading stuff but it works, even if yu're buying Mapquest and downloading it in the middle of SunCom\Cingular-only territory.

But, to rant, I'm about to go ballistic about incoming text\MMS charges and 15 minutes less on the $10 Gold Rewards card. But this will keep me from blowing my top.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Motorola GSM Sound Quality & Boost Mobile Phone Prices

Someone commented about the fact that the Tracfone GSM Motorolas in general don't have great sound quality, wondering whether the Nokias are any better. I have to say yes.

I own the Motorola c139 (as I said in my review of it several posts ago). And I have to say that, in part thanks to Cingular's junky network, call quality is only halfway decent. But I also own a Nokia 1100 and the few calls I've made with it seem a little better as far as call quality goes. Go Nokia! This is probably because Nokia's entry-level phones are built to last just as long as their higher-end models. I don't think Moto's models are...or if they are I don't like the higher-end models' lifespans.

OK. End of that semi-rant...

I just found out that you can now get the Boost Motorola i875 for $200 after a $100 mail-in rebate. Considering the fact that this is a MP3 camera flip phone with Bluetooth and video capabilty, on Nextel no less, this is at least a fair deal...especially since it's less after rebate than what Nextel sells its version, the i870, for on its own website.

On the lighter side (feature-wise, not size-wise; the i855 is actually a little bigger than the i875), the Motorola i855, a much more basic camera phone, is now njust $150, in line with what people paid for camera phones on prepaid a few months ago. Yes, the i855 is still a little on the expensive side but it's not too bad now, especially when you compare $150 with $225!

On the thinner and lighter side the i835 is now a palatable $130, or at least more palatable than $150. Hey, if you want thin and you want iDEN, they'll want money...

The Motorola i450, the main Boost phone I have (currently in my right pocket; my LG 225 on STi is in my left), is still $80, holding its own price pretty darn well (it's been the same price for I think 9 months now). The i415 on the other hand has dropped to $50.

If you have a Nextel pr Boost phone already, or can buy one for cheap off of eBay (the i560 and the i670 look like pretty good candidates) a $10 Boost starter kit is just $20, though you'll have to search to find it. I think it's in i855 accessories...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

T-Mobile in North Carolina

Sorry...Blogger didn't seem to publish the post when I wrote it is though...

To amplify what someone in a comment said to my last post with my own experience, I found that T-Mobile To Go also roams on Cingular in North Carolina! I didn't test it till last night because of the fact that in Texas, where T-Mobile has a native signal, Cingular would positively not register, as least as of about a month ago. I'll check when I get back.

Anyway, T-Mobile To Go has laudable GSM roaming capabilities in North Carolina, where it has no towers of its own. The nice hing is even on other networks you get 100% of your features (T-Zones works, the #999# balance reminder works) and it's not a penny more expensive! Thank you GSM seamless roaming!

As a side note, SunCom seems to be preferred to Cingular while in North Carolina, but you can manually network-select either SunCom or Cingular and the phone will stay on that network until you select something else. And if there is no SunCom signal the phone will naturally pick Cingular, the only other GSM operator in the area, at least to my knowledge.

Whoever said that comment, thanks. I didn't know you posted it today, after I did testing on my own, but thanks anyway.

As was said in the comment, this makes T-Mobile To Go a nice "glovebox" phone with a Gold Rewards SIM and a $10 card. Granted, you only get 35 minutes now with that card, but you can get the phone for free from Cingular (Nokia 6030 would be your best bet) and the SIM for cheap on eBay and if your usage goes up a $100 card from CheapPhoneCards (around $92.25) gets you less than 10 cents a minute on your pick of networks in the Carolinas and on at least T-Mobile everywhere else. Nice.

P.S. aka Shameless Beg: Since you can, through DealKing, get the Nokia 6030 on Cingular for free, could someone be so kind as to do that exact thing and mail me the phone, SIMless? I'd reimbuse whoever does it for shipping. If you want to take me up on this, email me. Thanks :)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

News Flash: I'm Still Alive

Sorry for the whole week of silence on this blog. I just haven't had enough time to fully surf the Net and check email etc. until right now, at least and get it done. Anyway, here are a few quick things before the computer I'm working on will become unavailable (the place I'm in is closing in about 5 minutes).

1. If you like your tethered STi Mobile data, DON'T CANCEL IT! I did to avoid 19 cents extra per day over the duration of my Boy Scout summer camp, and now STi\Sprint won't let me reactivate. OK, I did download 500 MB or so over the connection over a few days, but just as a warning to not cancel...I didn't get disconnected until I told them to do so...but now they won't reconnect me...

2. Want Boost airtime or some other airtime that CheapPhoneCards doesn't sell? BabbleBug got me a $20 Boost card for $20 and their service was pretty good. A lot better than having to go to Wally World and get one for $2068 including tax or something like that. Full Disclosure: I have nothing to gain from this little blurb. But do check them out if you need something CheapPhoneCards doesn't offer.

3. The Nokia 6061 is now $25 refurbed at Cingular's GoPhone website. It's fine if you can correctly position your ear over the teensy earpiece, or so I've heard. I would get the phone, but for the fact that Cingular won't sell me GoPhones in my area. The Nokia 6010, tried and true but getting a little grey-haired, is $40 new. I would get it and unlock it and use it with a T-Mobile SIM and pay less for it than you would for the T-Mobile version, though chat won't work :(.

And that's all for now. Hopefully I'll see you people later...

WAIT! I'm in North Carolina and T-Mobile To Go, as well as MovilListo, roam on SunCom. Neat, huh?

Well, now I'm done so see you people later until maybe tomorrow or whenever something new comes up in the prepaid world and I hae more time to post.