First off, I just don't think that the Slice is a $50 phone. True, it's thin, really, really thin, but that's pretty much its only merit. Not that it needs other merits, but it's so thoroughly average otherwise that its thinness is its only redeeming quality. And due to its thinness, plus the cost-cutting measures involved (and there are some measures involved) you get a phone that seems a tad on the glitzy side, with a keypad that feels none too good. nThe phone may be thinner and lighter even than the SLVR, which is expensive, but you're taking out a lot, and I mean a LOT, of features. Which people may or may not need\want anyway, but the only thing you can compare with the SLVR and the Slice is thickness. The Slice is a cheapie phone, simply put.
About CDMA users settling for expensive handsets and minutes, some people like to have their phone working everywehere, even if it's more expensive. However, CDMA isn't necessarily better coverage-wise, or more expensive, than GSM. Sprint actually has a quite small coverage footprint, somewhere around that of T-Mobile, maybe a little bit more. However T-Mobile now has roaming agreements even on prepaid, and thus you can get their service at 10 cents a minute or less in a lot of places...as in A LOT of places. :)
In this case GSM is cheaper than CDMA, but Cingular GoPhone is WAY more expensive than Virgin Mobile (25 cents a minute vs. 18 or $1 a day for 10 cents a minute + M2M versus roughly 28 cents a day for the same thing minus M2M). This is about the cleanest analogy possible, as comparison between AirVoice and a comparable CDMA carrier would lead into comparison with "indie" carriers like STi Mobile and its league. Heck, Tracfone GSM now charges the exact same per minute as the LG 3280 on Trac CDMA, though GSM does have more features.
Another look at things and you'll find that Virgin Mobile's text rates are becoming the cheapest in the industry. everyone is starting to charge 15 cents per text, which is absolutely annoying to the point of death. Virign is looking like it will stay at 5 cents per message both ways. If you don't get on a texting plan. Which I'm actually doing very, very soon (as soon as I top up). I will then have 2.5 cents per text message, better than anything in the GSM arena, as far as prepaid goes, has to offer, to my knowledge. And what phone am I using for this? The Slice.
In short, I'm not bashing the Slice for being what it is. I'm just bashing it for being what it is an being $50. $40 would be okay in my opinion, but not $50...at that point you're looking at higher-end phones, and even this phone's thinness doesn't quite rank it as higher-end.
By the way, I actually don't like any of the ringtones on the Slice really. All of them are pretty obnoxious, even the normal ring. Same with the backgrounds. But I'm going to live with them since I'm not even going to use this phone for voice calling. The big idea from Virgin mobile here is that people, fed up with the lousy offering of 'tones on this phone, will pay their horribly high rates to download new content that is actually normal and bearable an suchlike. And it's probably going to work, making the net cost of the phone even more ($65 including tax anyone?) for people who actually want to personalize it. Nice business model, Virgin. Ah well.
Well, have to go. Homework. Hope this clarifies things for everyone considering getting the Slice. It's a nice buy for $20 but not for $50.
By the way, I found out why there was a hundredths place in the new Tracs' airitme display...buying ringtones! At least for the Moto c261. Not that I needed another ringtone, but The House of The Rising Sun is still neat to have on a Trac, and the ringtone speaker on the c261 is nice. The only beef I have is the time it takes for things to load on the phone (seems like GPRS Class 0, lol) and thus the airtime it uses in loading things. Ah, but such is life...more on the c261 later.