Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Shuttles and Data Plans and Service Days, Oh My!

Nope, this may be post 711, but the Shuttle isn't available at 7-Eleven'll be coming to BestBuy with a price of either $80 or $100l, looks like.

Thanks to The Sweeper, nothing has gone unnoticed over at the Virgin Mobile HQ. Least of all their introduction of the Stereo-Bluetooth, music-playing, MicroSD-toting, rootin' tootin' red slider phone known as the Shuttle. Check out Virgin Mobile's page on it here. The Shuttle also has a page or two from Helio's book (they're part of Virgin Mobile now, remember?): Buddy Beacon GPS location. Very, very cool. Short of a keyboard, this phone has every feature a non-smartphone user on a contract plan could want.

Virgin Mobile has also introduced new data plans to the arena, making them pretty competitive in that realm (though they don't have an "unlimited" option like AT&T's GoPhone does). $10 gets you 20 MB of data usage, $20 gets 50MB. VirginXL usage (ringtones and such from Virgin Mobile's own system) don't count against the limit, and if you have a monthly plan data costs are halved. If you don't have a monthly plan, the $5 for 5 MB monthly plan still stands. Virgin Mobile has also increased the minimum amount for pay-per-use data from $1 to 1.50 for a day pass, but the data allotment has been increased from 500 KB to 1 MB.

What's interesting is that now an unlimited voice plan with unlimited messaging is $90, just like on Sprint, and 50 MB of data brings the monthly total up to $100. Granted, 50 MB of data isn't 5 GB (Sprint's soft cap) but for casual mobile web usage you won't go over 50 MB even on an EvDO-equipped phone (not that I said casual web uage, not putting music or video into the equation), plus Virgin Mobile's plan taxes and fees are less than Sprint's. So yes, you can get away with more and more these days on a prepaid plan, and if you're looking for a feature-rich experience with unlimited voice minutes Virgin mobile is it.

One thing: if you look at the title bar on your browser when browsing Virgin Mobile's data plan apge, it mentions 2G data. The Shuttle is 3G. Are there even better plans coming?

One more thing: if you buy a Wild Card, Slash or Shuttle from Virgin Mobile you, for a limited time, can get a full year of service when you activate. It looks like you have to add some sort of airtime card to the mix in order to do this, but that card could be as little as $10, and a year of service included with the phones is a goodway to keep people around and use all those high-end features the Shuttle (which will be out on the 28th, looks like) has to offer.

In conclusion, Virgin Mobile's red-rimmed slider phone brings the provider up in my estimation in compparison of all cellular providers, contract as well as prepaid.


Nathan Lewis said...

One problem, at least in my eyes, with Virgin's new data plans. Before when I had the $5 for 5MB plan, when I got to the 5MB limit before the end of the month, the phone wouldn't allow me to browse any more without purchasing $5 for 5MB again. Now, it allows me to continue browsing and charges a $1.50 every day that I continue browsing that month. There is no alert that you are using money out of your balance, so unless you go and check your account every day, you could run up quite a bit of overage charge (as they call the $1.50/day charge). There is also no way to check how many MB you've used, unless you call customer service, so you'll almost always spend at least $1.50 more per month (unless you don't use the total allotment of 5MB/month).

Nathan Lewis said...

Update on what I said before- you can check (at least I can) how much data usage you've used so you know when you go over the limit. You go to 'My Account' on your phone, scroll down to 'Data Settings', push enter and scroll down to find out how much data usage you have left. There still may be no alert if you go over your data allotment, I don't know.