Saturday, December 29, 2007

Boost News...They're Shrinking as a Prepaid Carrier

Okay, long title, but it's true. Take a look at Boost Mobile's latest website. There's the Boost Unlimited side that is growing in features and service areas...and phones, with the Motorola c290 and w385 being supported, but that's CDMA and isn't articularly "prepaid" as most people see it. Hmm, that's a post for

Whereas on the iDEN side of Boost Mobile, where walkie talkie and (sorta) GPS set the brand apart from the herd, is making a quicker and quicker fade; they're down to two phones, one of which has been around for...correct me if I'm wrong...long enough that if you got the Nextel version of this guy you'd be eligible now for either a full-blown upgrade or terminating your service. While the other model, the multi-colored i425, is nice and new, things look bad for Boost. I mean, they used to carry phones that were just as high-end as those on Nextel (case in oint: i885, i875, i860). Now...practically nothing. While Boost gets points for uniqueness in haing the thinnest iDEN phone out there on its service, and that for a mere $40, they lose them back when you consider that, on both GSM and now CDMA sides, the highest-end phone is a bit of a cheap trick: just your average camera phone with Bluetooth built in. Now Motorola makes decent phones, but if you don't need Bluetooth the Kyocera Cyclops is a higher-end phone, and if you do need it the candy bar Super Slice is everything but the half the price

Come on guys, we know you're dying to get everyone off your old iDEN network, but making the phones available with your prepaid option as lousy, or nearly so, as every other CDMA-based prepaid isn't the way to do it, considering that y'all are bleeding customers faster than you're picking up new ones (full disclosure: I use and love Sprint...don't get me wrong and think I'm some insane T-Mobile, AT*T or Alltel fanatic).

How about unifying your product line with the hybrid phones we already see on the contract side of the fence, and offer all current plans and features on the four hybrid phone models that, though none are bar phones, otherwise run the gamut from minimalistic to maximized? And sell them on the prepaid service for the price you'd get 'em for with a 1-year contract. And bump up the price if we're dealing with the unlimited service? You know, sell the now-discontinued Blend phone for a mere $50, the Buzz for $120, the Buzz+ cameraphone for $200 and the Deluxe for $400? And a bit more for unlimited? I dunno, just throwing ideas out there. Why are iDEN phones so darn expensive on-contrct anyway? You can get a Boost i855 for cheaper than a Nextel i850, And a i425 cheaper than the Nextel rough equivalent, the i325. Maybe Boost should continue the tradition with hybrid phones (aka PowerSource) priced equal or less than their plan-bound equivalents?

I probably hate the iDEN network more than Sprint does...but hopefully Boost Mobile doesn't have to get killed in the process of moving out of iDEN. Heck, I could even see them just trying to sell out of their stock of i855s, then i425s, in a transition to all-CDMA unlimited service (bad) or hybrid prepaid\hybrid\unlimited serice (good). But we'll see...let's just hope the chirp doesn't die on preaid before QChat comes out and takes everyone by storm.

The 611th Post: Info on 3 VZW Phones, Kyocera K126c, LG 200c, Samsung u340

First off, apologies for the long silence. I've been pretty busy with things lately. What with Freeit4Less, a vacation, a vacation within a vacation to visit relatives (this is my last day of that particular event) and keeping current with various facets of tech-dom, as well as reading a book or two, I've neglected Go4Prepaid. Thanks for bearing with me. Hopefully the following reviews will serve to put up a lot of info in a concise format to make up for the dearth thereof I've been showing lately.

Oh, and yes I know, when I get back up to Colorado I'll take some time to review the Boost Mobile i425.

Second, battery life is not yet included in this review, and reception judgments are shaky...I'll edit this post later on with appropraite figures if I can, but I don't have the data due to laziness so far on my part...I promise I will repent thereof ;)

Okay, to the first review, or rather comparison, of the Kyocera K126c... the Kyocera K7 Rave. No, I'm not really kidding on this one. The screen might be formatted differently, have a color background and sport a Tracfone balance display, and the phone may be MUCH smaller overall, lending somewhat of a modern air to the affair, but otherwise you have something that is best shoved back into the 2002 drawer, leaving you rolling your eyes and wondering what Tracfone was thinking when they released this one.

Okay, not everything is wrong with it. From a cursory look and a friend's observation about his own K126c (in Net10 attire, which looks a little better) reception and voice quality seem to be above average on this old=looking phone, and the ringtones are still polyphonic, opposed to the monophonic, color-screen Motorola c139, Also, small may well be beautiful; the phone, while wider, takes up a similar amount of space to the much-loved predecessor to this hunka junk, the Nokia 2126\i. And yes, it's Single-Rate and Net10-capable if you buy that version, but that's assumed of any Tracffone since the release of the LG 3280.

Overall, I'm simply baffled why (no wait...maybe Tracfone is MAKING money on the phones right when you buy the...even if they do only cost a scant $15) the perfectly functional, highly-praised Nokia 2126 was replaced with...this. Let's just hope that Tracfone's next run of CDMA phones isn't another, deeper, look into the past, sponsored by they-who-are-buying-Sanyo :(. I mean, why couldn't Tracfone get a BETTER phone when getting Kyocera...I mean, you know, Kyocera makes stuff like Virgin Mobile's Wild Card that are t least halfway decent. Which counts out their K10 and everything before it in this day and age. Oh, and the Oystr.

Next, the LG 200c, compared a bit less bitingly to the LG 3280...

...which is still a better phone. If you're given an option of getting either the 3280 for $50 or the 200c for $30, which may well be your options at this point, get the 3280. It may be a little more bulky, and is a little older, and a little more expensive...but you'll thank yourself. Not that the LG 200c is a horrible, along with its Alltel cousin the ax-145, its Virgin Mobile cousin the Aloha and its name-our-CDA-carrier cousin of some similar naming scheme, is just an inexpensive starter phone with none too many features that has somewhat of a sense of class, as long as it's closed and you don't see that it's a basic phone. But come on, why the heck would you want to downgrade from the previous-generation phone?

For one thing, the "cool" internal antenna doesn't look to pick up a signal as well as that of the LG 3280, which in turn fared worse than the Nokia 2126i (which, admittedly, has rather good reception, especially for a phone with an "intenna"). My dad works out in the country and his new 200c, on Net10, has been found to be noticeably weaker signal-wise than the Tracfone bar phone that preceeded it. Wrong way, Forrest! Especially considering that the phone introduces no new eatures to the scene versus the Nokia 2126i, except maybe being a flip phone and having some way to buy airtime on-phone now.

But what about the external keys on the LG 3280, removable faceplates, and other such marks of a decent phone? Sorry dude, they're gone on the 200c. Volume must be adjusted with the regular keypad of the phone. Oh, and the speakerphone\ringer now has no outside ort. Come on, don't tell me this stuff was lopped off in the name of style and simplicity. Espeially considering that the 200c (which probably has as good battery life as the 3280, if not that's one thing going for it) is the highest-end Tracfone you can now buy if you're in a CDMA area...the lower-end one is the aforementioned Kyocera K126c. In short, the highest-end Tracfone on CDMA is the lowest-end new phone if you're looking at Virgin Mobile (note that I said new phone; the Kyocera Marbl isn't new and tops the 200c feature-wise if not speed-wise) and is put to shame by pretty much any prepaid carrier nowadays. Come on, Tracfone, don't let your neglect of the CDMA side of things, or your relegation of it to second-class citizenship in favor of your big honking AT&T GSM deal, cast again the light on your service that it is expensive and uses outdated phones. God forbid.

But enough of my rant. Here's the third review, this time for a non-Tracfone (seeing as how it's a CDMA phone with a camera, and it's a Samsung, that's sorta implied): the Samsung u340.

First off, thak you Verizon. You have finally realized that your "Red" user interface is a step this side of pathetic. Maybe we want different brands of phones to look different when we use them, rather than everything, even high-end phones like the Razr Maxx Ve, adhering to the same dismal creed of interface that makes your phones seem so ancient.

Okay, so you still have a fair portion of your UI embedded into this phone. SIgnal bars are still sorta wierd-looking, some items are a little wierd, and ringtone choice seems shorted by the desire for the customer to download something for pay at Get It Now. But at least a Samsung phone seems a little closer to a Samsung phone. Or maybe you've just smartened up your UI like you did with the LG Voyager and ported it to the rest of your platform, creating something that is actually worth using in the process. Either way, I'm a bit happier.

But enough of my UI ranting. The u340 is a capable phone. Like the UTStarCom 7075 that I reviewed awhile back, it's just your average cameraphone when you get down to it, with few extra features to make it notable above any other phone. And its internal antenna may not do wonders for seems along the lines of the LG 200c...maybe a little better but nothing really grat...but for $40 you get a fair amount of phone on prepaid. Makes a good Page Plus phone, though there are better models for reception, talking and texting.

The phone is like recent basic Samsungs: relatively thin, rather angular, mildly good looking (this one came in blue though other colors may be out there) and decent, though not amazing, for ease of use and speed. The keypad, my dad complained, didn't seem too great on one-handed operation, and I tend to agree, but it's passable. The camera is okay, though unfortunately no picture messaging and no cable means no picture samples. It even has a "sketch" mode that turns your picture into a hopeless attempt at a line drawing, but I oerstate its hopelessness.

So overall the u340, which is likely in a Wal-Mart near you around $40 in price (that's what I got it for), is a decent phone and a bit of an upgrade from the UTStarCom 7075 due to Samsung's slightly better sense of cellular style and Verizon's new take of UI design. Again, if you're looking for a Page Plus Cellular phone this is as good a one as any that have recently come through Wal-Mart's doors. Though it's nothing Bluetooth, EV-DO or amazing user interface is to be found. But that's what you get for $40.

Well, hope this helps catch everyone up nfo-wise, review-wise, and generally etcetera-wise and gives people an idea about the Kyocera K126, LG 200c and Samsung u340. Since all three phones run on the same (Verizon) network, I'll be doing a recetion and battery life shootout between the lot, as well as versus that great old standby, the Nokia 2126. Then, in a few weeks, a feview of the Motorola i425, the thinnest iDEN phone ever. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

New SpeakOut Plans...Thanks Sweeper

This is taken directly from the forum posting made by The Sweeper...

7-Eleven is offering two new prepaid mobile phone plans through its SpeakOut Wireless MVNO brand. One plan offers unlimited nights and weekends, and the second plan includes a lower per-minute charge of 15 cents for nationwide calling.
"We are enhancing the 7-Eleven SpeakOut Wireless program, while ensuring that it remains easy to use and affordable for consumers," said Brad Haga, 7-Eleven senior product director for business development and services, in a statement. "We've found that customers prefer flexibility and don't want a long-term contractual commitment. These two plans are among the most competitive prepaid wireless offerings available in the market today."

7-Eleven SpeakOut Wireless Unlimited Nationwide Nights and Weekends plan is available now for $40 per month. Features include: unlimited nationwide calling on nights and weekends; 200 peak-time minutes; 10-cent rate for peak-time voice calls, 5-cent 2-way text messaging; free voice mail, caller ID and call-waiting; all minutes carry over to the next month as long as the customer extends the monthly service with another $40 airtime card within 30 days. And special for the holidays, customers who purchase a Sanyo 2400 or LG 5225 phone will get a free $40 SpeakOut Wireless airtime card.

7-Eleven introduced the SpeakOut Wireless program in early 2004, the program is supported by Ztar mobile.

This is on the CDMA side only.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Two Reviews Coming Soon...One Coming Much Later...

Well, I'll finally be finding the time to review the LG 200c Tracfone\Net10 CDMA phone soon. I also picked up the Kyocera K126c from Tracfone to see whether it was worth $15. Will post about it as well. Stay tuned!

Also, once I'm back in Colorado, I'll be reviewing the Motorola i425 from Boost. This will be around a month from now. Between now and then I'll likely look at the Net10 Nokia 1600 and maybe another phone or two. Again, check back here or subscribe to the blog RSS feed to make sure you get the reviews when they arrive!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Net10 Drops Phone Prices, Isn't Evil ;)

First off, Net10 has a nice front page now. I especially like their slogan, or what should be their slogan...No bills, No contracts, No evil. Gotta love it.

Anyway, they've also decreased most of their phones in price by $10-$20. For example, the Motorola w375, c261 or LG CG225 are now a mere $70 each. The LG 200c is $ third less than it was mere weeks ago at Wal-Mart when my parents bought their phones. The Kyocera K126? $20.

I may have to pick up a phone or two to review...these things are cheap!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Quick XE Mobile Update

Well, I'm back for a magnificent four weeks...the semester is over for I'll have more time to devote to here. Which brings me to some news...though first I'd like to thank Chris for putting up a few posts in my absence...

XE Mobile is no more. Or rather, will be no more effective the 31st of this month. My prognosis: their plans were rather hard to understand and changed relatively frequently, their cellular-centric features were just plain basic, their phone selection could be matched elsewhere, their expirations were lousy and they never, as far as I know, had a retail presence of any size. No real advertising either.

So with so few subscribers (I'm sure they didn't have many) they couldn't keep paying for large enough buckets of minutes or whatever to stay profitable and closed up shop. Honestly, they won't be missed, not that they're horrible anything, but just because the carrier itself is a relative non-event. You can only be a non-event if you activate, for next to nothing, whatever cell phones you come across and serve up minutes at cult-incuding rates...aka Page Plus. XE...didn't do this, and that's why they won't be around after another three weeks.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Good News For Virgin Mobile

This is a posting by Chris, from the Go4Prepaid forum.

No longer will Virgin Mobile customers have to spend time on the phone with customer service to activate their phones.

New customers, as well as current customers upgrading, will have their phones programmed OTA (over the air), eliminating manual input and errors that manual input have caused.

"At Virgin Mobile USA, we are continually working to enhance our award-winning customer service processes," said James Gamm, vice president of Information Technology for Virgin Mobile USA. "With Telespree, we focused on the device programming process, eliminating manual entry and any associated errors, creating an even simpler and more convenient consumer experience. Virgin Mobile USA customers can purchase a cool, new phone and get it programmed quickly, allowing them to begin using service immediately after activation without any hassles."

If anyone activates a phone on Virgin Mobile soon, please post a review of the new OTA programming in either a comment or on the Go4Prepaid forum (seen in the right sidebar.)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Kajeet Mobile

This is a posting by Chris, from the Go4Prepaid forum.

I'm pretty sure Ian posted about Kajeet a while back on the blog, but I have a few things to say about this.

Around here (Missouri), it has actually taken off pretty well. It is advertised in many stores and many people are actually buying them. I've had trouble even seeing them in stores because they are all sold out.

You pay 10 cents per minute and 5 cents per text sent/received. The downfall, to me, is the daily access fee of 35 cents. One reason I think INPulse never really took off was because of the $1 access fee per day. Kajeet runs off of Sprint's network.

They do offer several multimedia features, including many from Nickelodeon. Phones include several LG's and Sanyo's, including both Katanas, and a Samsung and Nokia. Many of these phones are the same that are currently being used on Sprint's network. Prices range from $50-$100.

Coverage maps leave a lot to be desired, simply having a great coverage and no coverage color.

While I won't be jumping over to buy one, I'd love to get someone's opinion on Kajeet who does have or has used the service.