Thursday, July 31, 2008

Slash Price Drop

The Sweeper over at the forums just pointed out that Virgin Mobile has dropped the price of their Samsung m310 "Slash" phone by $10, to $69.99. It's unclear whether this is a permanent price drop, but you'd think so. The Slash is a decent phone (need to review it, have it sitting on my desk right now) but its price is significantly more than the Arc, which has similar features. This price drop brings things more in line, price-wise.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Go4Prepaid Turns 700, GoPhone Launches Breeze To Commemorate

Okay, so maybe they didn't launch the Pantech Breeze to commemorate this, the 700th post on Go4Prepaid (wow, that's a lot! Now to get to 1000). However the phone is available on GoPhone now, albeit at a rather shocking $100.

But hey, it does have Bluetooth and a camera so you can't knock the phone too much, though I don't see the camera anywhere on the phone picture. No wait, there it is, on the backside of the phone, near the battery and the speakerphone grill. It's back there because there's plenty of space back there, and there's plenty of space back there because the phone is rather big. The phone is rather big because it's aimed at older folks, with big buttons and big screens, plus a few dedicated "In Case of Emergency" buttons right below the main screen.

Verizon has the CDMA version of this phone, which they call the Coupe, and they sell it for $40 with a contract. Guess it might not be such a bad deal on GoPhone after all...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

BabbleBug's Phone Lineup

You may or may not know, depending on whether this is your first time here or not, that is one of the big reasons I can afford to buy (and eventually review) all these cell phones. They, and a little bit of Google advertisers, also pay for my regular (contract based 'cuz I need high-speed data on a very high-end phone and AT&T 3G isn't available where I live in Texas) cellular service and maybe a candy bar every once in awhile.

That said, BabbleBug also sells some decent products, namely calling cards, SIM card kits, prepaid phone airtime and prepaid phones themselves. Here's their lineup right now, without the "99 cent"

SIM Kits (all of them use AT&T's network and come with $1 in rewards that you can put toward future BabbleBug purchases)
AirVoice: $8 (unknown credit included)
GoPhone (AT&T "house brand"): $10 ($10 credit included)
Oxygen Wireless: $5 (50 minutes credit included)

Phones (include rewards equivalent to 1% of purchase price, except where noted)
Oxygen Motorola c168i: $50
Oxygen Motorola Razr: $120
Oxygen Pantech c300: $110
Page Plus LG vx4500: $30 ($3 in rewards included)
Page Plus LG vx6100: $40 ($3 in rewards included)
PowerLink semi-unlimited (see the post in the forums) LG 150: $75
PowerLink LG 5225: $70
PowerLink Nokia 6165: $90
Total Call Mobile LG 5225: $35
Total Call Mobile Nokia 3588i: $20
Total Call Mobile Samsung a660: $30
Total Call Mobile Samsung a300: $120

Reviews for some of these phones are on this site, while others have reviews that'll come in time. At any rate, if you want to buy any of this stuff, look to your right and scroll down; the link to BabbleBug is right there :)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

LG 600, Super Slice Blue

Looks like the LG 600 camera flip Bluetooth external-screen phone is finally out; The Sweeper has gotten ahold of it and has a few pictures to show. I'll get it eventually, but only after I get all these phones I have sitting around reviewed!

View post

Also, it looks like there are now four colors of Super Slice floating around, black (normal), white (RadioShack), red (BestBuy) and blue (special edition). Geesh, you can change a phone's color but the phone will still have a UTStarCom brand name on it...hmm...that was a mixed metaphor to end all mixed metaphors. Anyhow, check the post out here. Note that you still can't get the Super Slice online, at least you can't right now (it was available awhile back though).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

T-Mobile, AT&T Phone Lineup Update

Looks like T-Mobile's two new prepaid phones, the Nokia 1208 and 2760, are available online for purchase now. The 1208 is $30, the 2760 is $90 (!). The Nokia 2610 is still available for $30, and the Samsung t219 and t429 are available for $50 and $100, respectively. You can also get the Motorola v195 for $30. No great deals here, just an update.

As for AT&T's GoPhone service, you can still get the Nokia 2610 for $25 with $25 in airtime, $40 with $50 in airtime or $80 with $100 in airtime. Or get the phone alone for $8, refurbished. The rather high-end Motorola v365 is also available, refurbished, for $60. You can also get the Sony Ericsson Walkman w580i, refurbished, in black or pink, for $100. Otherwise you're loking at AT&T's typical, though large, GoPhone lineup and pricing handset-wise.

Yes, I know, I have lots of phones to review, and in response to the silent question of when a review will come up, I have a Nokia 2610 sitting beside me for that very purpose. A 2610 that, mind you, was paid for by the site's sponsors, most likely by BabbleBug. So pay them a visit; they're what make these reviews possible.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Cell Guru Is Giving Away an i425

There's another giveaway affot, but it's not from here. Head over to the Cell Guru's site and you'll see that he's giving away a Motorola i425 to whoever gives him the best suggestion for spiffing up the site. So head on over and tell him I said hi :)

UPDATED: Net10 Intros Unlimited!

Looks like Net10 dropped a bit of a bomb on the cellular market today...see this post...

...or not.

Because I'm ecstatic...

That Net10, whose coverage mirrors that of Verizon on-contract or AT&T on-contract depending on where you are (in other words pretty much everywhere), and whose phones aren't downright overpriced or underpowered, has introduced an unlimited plan!

It gets better...

Not only is the plan contract-free, it also includes text messaging! Okay, so there's no mention of picture messaging so I'm assuming that they'll keep charging for that, but text is usually a $10 or $20 a month option on top of voice service, and they've included it.

The price? $79.98 per month.

The offer isn't available in all areas; it's GSM-only. But that's still great, because AT&T's coverage area (contract-class remember?) is HUGE. Also, text messaging is included in the monthly price, as is the otherwise-half-a-unit-per-minute web browsing charge. Subscription services (on Tracfone's limited mobile web), ringtones, graphics, games and MMS still aren't free, but on MMS you don't have to pay the data charge so messages are just 10 cents apiece. Pretty good deal if you ask me.

Let's compare the current prepaid unlimited plans...

Net10 - $79.98 for talk and text, cheap MMS, limited web browsing full AT&T network
Virgin Mobile - $79.99 for talk, $10 extra for messaging (text, picture, IM, certain e-mail), Sprint network only
Page Plus - $60-$62 or $75-$77 for talk, depending on the area, Verizon network only
Others - Sprint network only, usually $70+ per month
Boost - $50 for talk, $60 for talk and text, $70 for talk, text and web, Sprint network only, limited to a single region

...and contract plans...where taxes and fees abound...

Sprint - $89.99 for talk and messaging (text, picture)
T-Mobile - $99.99 for talk and messaging (text, picture), $50 per month for additional lines, FlexPay may be available but with more expensive phones and slightly less coverage
Verizon & AT&T - $99.99 for talk only, $20 extra for messaging (text, picture, etc.), no additional-line discount, Net10 runs on the AT&T network for less!

So if you don't send and receive picture messages, Net10 could actually save you $40 a month over a CONTRACT plan with the same underlying carrier! That's not even accounting for the taxes and fees that are piled onto the contract plans, which would probably be around $20 per month. No activation fees either.

This, along with Virgin and Page Plus's options, are the first reasons that high-minute users might actually want to switch to prepaid rom a contract plan. If the word gets out, contract providers will have to play catch-up, which means good things for everybody.

Granted, Boost, CricKet, MetroPCS, other smaller unlimited carriers and in some cases Page Plus can provide cheaper rates for unlimited service versus Net10, but none of these can offer as much coverage, and Page Plus doesn't offer unlimited text messaging. The phones on everyone but Page Plus tend to be quite expensive as well.

Speaking of phone prices, here's Net10's current lineup:

$79.99 - LG 225 (camera flip w\external display)
$69.99 - Motorola w375 (camera Bluetooth though to my knowledge)
$59.99 - LG 1500 (flip w\external display)
$49.99 - Motorola w370 (flip)
$49.99 - LG 200 (CDMA flip)

There are other phones available as well (the LG 300 is available at Wal-Mart for $30 including an accessory kit).

One caveat of the plan is that you can't buy a card for it in a store; you have to buy online. Also it may not be available everywhere. Last, it's voice and text only until my testing (or someone else's) proves otherwise.

Whatever you make out of this, it's pretty clear that Tracfone has dropped a bombshell into the prepaid, nay, the whole cellular industry with this plan. There's no longer a coverage or price-per-minute sacrifice when making the jump to prepaid. Phone selection will likely follow. For the price of a contract activation fee you can get a "free phone" from Net10 with 300 minutes and 60 days to try out the service. That's longer than any contract provider's tryout window I've heard of. If you want a higher-end phone, you buy one for $70, something a contract provider would insist was $34.99. Granted, the Motorola w375 isn't a really high-end unit, but there's no contract either. Plus, the outlay on the phone now is reversed by the lack of taxes, fees and just plain monthly basic charges for the unlimited phone bill.

In comparison, $80 a month would likely get you only 900 minutes (with unlimited nights, weekends and mobile to mobile) on a contract plan, with no messaging of any sort, after taxes and fees are taken into account. Okay, maybe 200 messages, but not unlimited.

As I was saying, this whole thing is rather game-changing. Or maybe I'm just excited.

By the way, thanks to the forum members who spotted this, and if you're trying to figure out how to buy a Net10 phone online check this link out, You can get a refurbished Motorola c261 cameraphone (which is decent, see my review of it) for $29.99 including $30 in airtime. Very nice.

Thanks to The Sweeper for the information and the update! I guess this confirms that AT&T (and mybe T-Mobile?) is giving Net10 a very good deal on minutes because unlimited service is not available in CDMA areas, but still, this option is just great.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

STi Mobile Is Still Alive

It looks as though STi Mobile is still alive Not kicking, just squirming.

Anyhow, they've changed up their phone sales policy a bit, and messed with their plans. Here's the quick rundown:

All phones sold from STi's website come with $20 of airtime preloaded. Your options are:

Sanyo 200 (basic flip) - $40
Samsung a660 (less reliable slightly less basic flip) - $40
LG 225 (camera, web-enabled flip) - $65

Or get the phones for $40, $26 and $50, respectively, from CheapPhoneCards, which has a few small discount codes on the phones and packs in $10 of airtime with the Sanyo 200.

The messaging and data section has been taken out of the website, with rates for the services buried in the FAQ. Then again, the FAW still talks about older plans so I'm not sure what to trust. International dialing is at the forefront of the site right now however, and the rates are admittedly rather decent.

Their rate plans are:

8.9 cents/minute plus 9 cents per day
7.9 cents/minute plus 25 cents per day
$24.99 for unlimited nights and weekends starting at 9 p.m., 20 cents/minute otherwise
$29.99 for unlimited nights and weekends starting at 7 p.m., 15 cents/minute otherwise

Technically, airtime doesn't expire, but if you leave the service for long enough the monthly fees will eat it away.

STi isn't a particularly good deal now, nor has it been for awhile, unless you talk in some weird pattern that efficiently skirts around the daily fee, or you call internationally a lot and want to direct dial.

Just for fun, I ran some numbers, and you'd have to use an average of 16 minutes per day (480 per 30-day month) to make the 7.9 cent per minute plan worthwhile over the 8.9 cent one. This would get you a $45.42 monthly cellular bill on prepaid service. The same number of minutes could be gotten on Virgin Mobile for between $24 and $36 s month, depending on how you buy your minute packs. The unlimited night and weekend plans? xTreme Mobile offers 9 p.m. nights and weekends for $18ish a month (60 cents per day) with 15 cents per minute calling during weekdays. STi's 7 p.m. plan *might* work for you if you use more than 80 minutes a month between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. (otherwise xTreme Mobile would be a beter fit) or if you use more than 3000 (!) 7 p.m. nights and weekends but less than 35 anytime minutes per month (otherwise Movida's Penny plan would be a better fit) or if you use a TON of night and weekend minutes but less than 135 anytime minutes (at which point Virgin Mobile's $50 plan, with 400 anytime minutes, would be a better fit).

Just sayin'. STi is great for special usage cases I suppose, but you probably aren't one of 'em.

UPDATED: Hear me on the Prepaid Podcast

I just got off of a Skype call with Joe over at Had a nice chat about prepaid phones, the situation in the prepaid market, that sort of thing. It'll be in this month's Prepaid Podcast, which should be out in a day or two. No, this isn't why I haven't posted here in awhile (with reviews of the phones I have sitting around), but it is something and the podcast is pretty good, so you might want to take a look.

UPDATED: Here's the podcast page on PrepaidReviews

Monday, July 14, 2008

Three More Phones, Target Promo

As if I didn't have enough stuff to review, I just grabbed the following handsets at Wal-Mart:

LG 300g (Net10)
Samsung u410 (INPulse -> Page Plus to test new services partly)
Nokia 1208 (T-Mobile)

The 300g (and included accessory pack) was $30, as was the Nokia 1208 (no accesory pack). The Samsung weighed in at $60; I've tested the cheaper u340 before and one thing it lacks is web access, something I need to test data on Page Plus.

A quick tip: I noticed a buzz on howardForums about a sale going on at Target stores this week: the Samsung u340 is just $20 there. Grab it while you can, so long as you're sure you won't miss web access when using it on Page Plus.

Friday, July 11, 2008

More Phones To Review

Well, I've been back from Philmont Scout Ranch (photos at for nearly a week and am off on another trip, this time to Florida for mom's birthday and to visit relatives and such. I'll probably get photos up of that trip in due time as well.

Anyway, since this blog, up until a few minutes ago, has been woefully lacking in new content, here's some additional news about the stuff that's in store, and about stuff that's happened in the prepaid space:

1. Page Plus Cellular will shortly be rolling out data and multimedia messaging. Rates appear to be .12 cents per kilobyte (about what Virgin Mobile charges on their monthly plan) and 40 cents plus data per MMS (very steep). The feature seems to be working for some people at the moment, but not for everyone, probably as a consequence of the variety of phones active on the service. Additionally, Page Plus seems to be reworking their minute decrementing system again so you may actually have to pay face value on stuff like text messaging and data rather than getting a discount on those services as well as voice minutes when adding higher-denomination airtime cards.

2. Verizon INPulse recently introduced a messaging package: $10 a month gets you unlimited "IN" messaging plus 250 messages to everyone else. Funny how that works...on Virgin Mobile with a plan of similar cost per month (one of the monthly plans, to be precise) I could get unlimited messaging for that much, to anyone. On AT&T GoPhone, or one of VMo's other plans, $10 would get 1000 messages to anyone. In short, the deal is only good if all your friends are on Verizon, and your usage patterns actually fit the very slim profile for which INPulse isn't absolute highway robbery.

3. The day before yesterday I got a brand new Virgin Mobile UTStarCom Arc in the mail (ordered it with overnight shipping). Seems like a decent phone. It also seems like Virgin Mobile is standardizing their user interface over all their phones, though their UI is more, erm, traditional and in my opinion better than the evil-ness that is Verizon's "Red" UI. Basically take a typical phone menu system (LG, Sanyo, Samsung or such) and slap a white-on-red pop-art-ish paint job on it and you've got Virgin's user experience. I'll also be grabbing the LG 300g bar phone in time for it to arrive at my destination, a few days away at this point. Will probably order it in the hotel tonight.

And yes, I'll be getting some actual phone reviews up here sometime. Apologies to everyone left hanging, annoyed, etc.

One last thing: make sure and check out my sponsors. They're what keeps this site going, buying phones, reviewing phones, etc. They pay for my cell phone plan, my mobile broadband and maybe an icee or two when I'm on the road :)

AT&T GoPhone Free Phones

Look in the "packages" section of AT&T's GoPhone website and you'll see something interesting: phones that are free or better-than-free with an airtime card. There are two ways that airtime is included, however. I've marked phones with an asterisk that have the airtime preloaded. The ones with no asterisk have the airtime as a separate card, for even more bonuses and savings!

LG CG150* - $40 including $25 in airtime
Nokia 2610 Refurb - $25 including a $25 airtime card
Samsung a117 Refurb* - $29.99 including $25 in airtime, $40 including $50, $80 including $100
Nokia 2610 Refurb* - $40 including $50 in airtime, $80 including $100
Pantech c120 Refurb* - $25 including $25 in airtime
Samsung a437 - $10 w\$25 airtime purchase

Pretty good deals, if you ask me. Granted, you may or may not have to open up a new line of service to take advantage of these deals, but they're really good anyway. Not bad at all in my opinion for a non-contract cell phone.

AT&T GoPhone Free Phones

Look in the "packages" section of AT&T's GoPhone website and you'll see something interesting: phones that are free or better-than-free with an airtime card. There are two ways that airtime is included, however. I've marked phones with an asterisk that have the airtime preloaded. The ones with no asterisk have the airtime as a separate card, for even more bonuses and savings!

LG CG150* - $40 including $25 in airtime
Nokia 2610 Refurb - $25 including a $25 airtime card
Samsung a117 Refurb* - $29.99 including $25 in airtime, $40 including $50, $80 including $100
Nokia 2610 Refurb* - $40 including $50 in airtime, $80 including $100
Pantech c120 Refurb* - $25 including $25 in airtime
Samsung a437 - $10 w\$25 airtime purchase

Pretty good deals, if you ask me. Granted, you may or may not have to open up a new line of service to take advantage of these deals, but they're really good anyway. Not bad at all in my opinion for a non-contract cell phone.

Virgin Mobile Intros UTStarCom Arc

In addition to introducing an unlimited voice plan called Totally Everything (see my post on for more info on that one) Virgin Mobile has switched up their phone lineup and added another handset into the mix: the UTStarCom Arc.

As you might have guessed, this little guy is a flip phone. It's rather low-end, basically a flip version of the Super Slice, with a VGA camera and Bluetooth as its most prominent features. Though it is not exactly the same in design, or in model number, the Arc looks like a UTStarCom Mini redone for Virgin Mobile.

At $50 the phone seems to be a flip phone option for Super Slice features, or a successor to the now-discontinued Snapper (made by Pantech for Audiovox which was sold to UTStarCom who is now spinning the company off as Personal Communication Devices). Needless to say, I'll be picking this little red up and putting it through the obligatory paces to see whether it's worth the money. Though I'd think it would be.

In other phone lineup news, the white Cyclops is no more, at least online. Instead, the Cyclops is available in red for $50, and includes 20 in airtime versus the normal $2.50. There are also a few phones that are free with airtime purchase: the Oystr with $10 in airtime, the Aloha with $15 and the original Slice with $20. The Super Slice, at least for now, is gone.