Yes yes I know I need to get some phone reviews up here but I have another rather large project I have to work on at the moment, so maybe tomorrow...
Anyhow, the newest Sprint reseller (or one of the newest; it appears to have been started in the winter of 2007) on the block is KDDI, the Japanese cellular carrier who has decided to call their service X/S PCS Mobile. You know, like X for eXtreme and S PCS for Sprint PCS? Anyhow, these guys have a slightly different mix of plans versus the average Sprint based MVNO, though under the friendly cartoon penguins nothing is too appealing.]
First off you have the phone seleciton: the LG 125 and 225 (seen 'em before everywhere), the Sanyo 2400 (halway decent but rather old)...and something resembling a modern, high-tech phone, the LG 350! The darned thing has Bluetooth, a 1.3 megapixel camera and an external display. No EvDO (not missed; X/S PCS Mobile doesn't have data support at all) but it can print pictures via Pictbridge, provided you have the right cable and a relatively modern printer.
Second, you have the availability: none online from a quick search, but it appears as though 6th Avenue Electronics and New Jersey Cumberland Farms locations have the phone. Refills are available anywhere Coinstar products are sold, which doesn't include places like (one of our sponsors, click the ad if you please) BabbleBug.com.
The rates? Not great. All refills, even the $10 card, have the distinction of giving you 45 days of service time, however per-minute rates aren't anything to write home about in this age of sub-10-cent minutes: depending on the airtime card you get, rates vary from 11.1 to 12 cents per minute. The cheapest refill is, naturally, the largest ($50) however the most expensive one is the $30 refill but about a tenth of a cent!
But that's the regular plan...
A happy sunglassed penguin points out another X/S PCS Mobile (mouthful eh?) plan: unlimited incomiung. A $60 card, good for 30 days of service and 400 minutes outgoing, gets your service startedd (phones come with 80 minutes of service preloaded). Cheaper cards are available, but their expirations are so abysmal that the only card making monetary sense in this system is the $60 one. If any other card is chosen, you might as well just get an unlimited incoming and outgoing plan from Virgin Mobile, who runs on the same network, for $80 per month. Discounting incoming minutes and assuming you wanted to buy such cards, airtime rates vary from 13.9 to 15 cents per minute on the lower denomination cards; 15 cents per minute is the airtime rate on both $30 and $60 cards, with $50 again being cheapest.
In short, X/S PCS Mobile is only good for a VERY small and specialized group of people: those who don't use a ton of outgoing minutes but use enough incoming minutes (800+ by my calculation per month) to make unlimited incoming calling cheaper and more compelling than a product on the same network from a different provider.
In other news, Movida has added an option to their "Max Plus" plan: for $3 additional per month nights and weekends can start at 7 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. This welcome option makes sense if even sixteen minutes of airtime are used in a month between 7 and 9 p.m., assuming those minutes would push you over what's essentially a contract-less "normal" cell phone plan with rollover minutes (don't sue me AT&T).