Take note wireless savers! T-Mobile, the company that brought forth the $40 – 500MB Simple Starter plan is back for more fun with their new $45 – 2GB Simple Starter Plan! That’s right, beginning September 3, 2014, users will have the option to upgrade to the newer cap for just $5 more than their existing plan. This will be a limited time offer, so make sure to grab it fast.
Did you make the switch to T-Mobile and feeling a bit of regret? Well, Cricket Wireless has the deal for you. Bring a qualifying line (T-Mobile or Metro PCS Ports only please) to them before October 19th and you get $100 account credit. There’s not much to the fine print here, just keeping that device active and you can’t already be a Cricket customer.
If there is one thing I learned from the tech industry this week, it’s that they don’t like great things – or at least they don’t want to tell you to buy a great thing. Headlines like, “The HTC One M8 For Windows: The Best Phone You’ll Never Buy” just blew me away this week. Instead of doing what they should and covering the device that they were asked to cover, they continued to bash an OS that they gave an almost try to 2 years ago. Then, instead of taking a proper amount of time to bring forth a true experience, they carry the device in tandem with their daily driver and compare it in every way to something they have tweaked over the last 5 years to get the way they want it. It’s just not how journalism is supposed to be done.
Here’s an honest review – all 5 major smartphone OS platforms will allow you to do just about anything with your device. They may not have exact Apps, games and features you want, but all of them do something that the others don’t, and that’s why we need all of them to survive. That said, the big announcement earlier in the week about the HTC One M8 for Windows is much larger than a phone, a company or finding a lack of Apps in a store. It is the first time in history that a smartphone manufacturer launched a dual OS device running on the same hardware. It’s NEVER been done. That’s the big story here.
Now that I have that out of the way, if you are a tech writer, you really need to take your time before spouting off about the lack of Apps and such with Windows Phone. Chances are if there’s no official App, Rudy is working on one. If you don’t know who Rudy is, Rudy is Rudy Huyn, creator of the 6sec (Vine), 6tag (Instagram), 6snap (snapchat), 6tin (Tinder) and many others. The man is single handedly filling the App gap and has been for quite some time.
I’m not going to say that there is no App gap, because there is. In fact, it is still pretty wide in some places, but in others it is much closer than most even think. Sure, the Windows Phone Store has two billion less Apps than Android, but have you seriously looked at that store? There’s 200 versions of Flappy Bird clones, 1,000 different themes for GoLauncher EX, another few thousand system fonts that you can change out to. The App totals are completely bogus. Here’s what anyone considering a new phone should do.
First, Visit all four carrier’s websites and check coverage at the street levels of where you use the phone. Don’t depend on that little pin on the map that shows “all green” when you don’t zoom in. There are pockets of no coverage in those things when you zoom. Next up, check the plans and pricing options. Find out if the carrier that has the best coverage for you has a plan that works, and is as inexpensive as you want. Once you have that figured out, check for devices. This is when you leave home and go to the store. Leave you wallet in the car and go in and start playing. Don’t ask the guy carrying an iPhone about Windows Phone or Android. Don’t ask the Android guy about iPhones. Don’t pay attention to the device in the window signs. Just go in and play with each device for a hour. Enjoy this, you are buying something that will cost as much as a car by the time your are done with it, so treat it that way. If you don’t find something perfect, go home and do a bit more research.
If you found a network you like, take this time to shop the MVNO sites as well. There’s no contract with these services, so you can always run back to their big brothers if you want to, but a great example would be Cricket Wireless and AT&T. Cricket will sell you an AT&T compatible phone for less than AT&T charges for the same device. Then you can bring that phone to AT&T later and save if Cricket lets you down in anyway. Or you can take that locked device to any AT&T MVNO, like Red Pocket Mobile, Straight Talk, Net10 or many others. This will save you in the long run.
Tech writers go through phone after phone after phone writing out their pass or fail reviews week after week. Trust me, right now I have 4 devices that I am reviewing. It’s hard to maintain objective opinions about the Huawei Ascend Mate 2 LTE when all I want to do is jump to the HTC One M8, but if I don’t tell you want a great device the Ascend Mate 2 is and where the device falters, then I am not doing my job. Those writers that say the HTC One M8 for Windows is the best Windows Phone ever really have no clue what Windows Phone even is.
I’ll tell you what, my opinion on phones is personal. If you like a larger device, the HTC One M8 might be for you. If you like to be in touch with friends and family with a reliable device that holds a charge twice as long as an iPhone or Android device, Windows Phone might before you. If you like having all your Apps in a nice neat list instead of having them sprawled all over in the order they were installed, Windows Phone might be for you. If you like having a device that doesn’t force close or hiccup, you’re really starting to think about Windows Phone now. Want a device that just works day in and day out and has almost no malware, welcome to Windows Phone.
Windows Phone isn’t what those writers make it out to be. Windows Phone is growing and maturing into the best mobile OS on the planet. Sure, it’s missing some Apps, but do you use them? I mean just this week, we gained the ability to order a Papa Johns Pizza, Swarm with Foursquare and control our new NFL Fantasy Football lineups… Pizza, meeting friends and football? What else do you need?
Thanks for reading this rant, but now I have to get back to reviewing some additional hardware for you guys. I appreciate you taking the time to think about your new phone and look forward to the comments below – Ron.
In probably one of the worst kept secrets on the planet, HTC announced today the launch of their first dual OS device by adding the Windows Phone platform to the HTC One line. While the hardware is nothing new, the addition of a second OS to arguably the best quality smartphone on the market today, really has fans of the Microsoft OS throwing a party. The specs on the One M8 are pretty impressive, and the Windows Phone OS should handle the tasks that features like Here Maps, Cortana and Xbox Live gaming bring to the table.
The HTC One M8 for Windows Phone will be available at Verizon Wireless.
When a deal is a deal, there has to be some sort of catch to it, right? Well, Sprint just turned the industry on its ear yesterday with the announcement of their new Family share plan. In a nutshell, you get up to 10 lines, with 2GB of data each, and an additional 20GB of shared data for only $100 a month through 2015. Yes, that is $100 for 10 lines, making the initial cost per line only $10. So, why is this deal way too good to be true? One only needs to look at the fine print to see what the actual cost of the plan is and how Sprint makes a decent deal look like a great one.
First up, devices aren’t included in this plan. That means on average, you will either need to spend $5000 to outfit your group with phones, or you will need to enter into a device payment plan at about $25 a month for most devices. This will increase your bill up to $350 right off the bat. Even with this though, your $35 a month bill is quite exceptional. Of course, there’s another issue with the pricing structure. The access fee of $15 a line is only covered through 2015, which means in month 15, your bill will suffer from $150 in sticker shock when that charge is added back in. This brings the total bill due to $500 a month for this $100 plan.
Second, people have to consider the Sprint network in their location. We have been fortunate enough to have Wichita, Philadelphia and Seattle as test markets. Frankly, the service is spectacular in all three locations. With the LTE rollout just finishing up in the Seattle area, Sprint has a pretty good foothold where we live and work. This may not be the case in your neighborhood. If you are coming off of Verizon and moving to Sprint, the cash you save in the short term may not be worth the frustration of dropping calls, slower data speeds and overall lower-quality service that you may experience at Sprint.
Finally, the magical “ETF payment” that they are running out there is worded very strangely on their website. The exact wording is, “Sprint will buy out their families’ contracts with a Visa Prepaid Card worth up to $350.” Now the notation on the site says that it is only valid on users switching to the 20GB deal, and that is fine. What isn’t stated is that the buy out is PER LINE or total. We can assume that they will cover 5 lines coming in, but that will mean surrendering your iPhone 5s that you can sell for $400 anyways, so call that one a wash.
Overall, Sprint threw a great marketing plan out to the public here. Hopefully people read the fine print well and don’t panic when their bill goes up 500% in 2016. Yes, that is 500% after taxes and fees. With Washington taxes added in, a total Sprint bill in January of 2016 is going to run $605. This will continue until August of 2016 and cost a total of $9075 over 24 months. This makes the monthly cost, with everything built in, $37.81 a month. If you have 10 people to bring along, even with the fine print and sticker shock at the end of the term, Sprint’s new deal is a really great price, provided you live in a strong coverage area.
FreedomPop. Most people have never even heard of it. Those that have, usually think of that company that gives away internet service by selling overpriced modems to people that just don’t know better. What began with a trial over a year ago, is now a mainstream program to provide users with free or extremely reduced cellular service, and not just talk and text for free.
FreedomPop offers users a cell plan that includes 200 minutes of talk, 500 text messages and 500MB of data, for free. That’s right, a 100% free monthly plan. Of course, if you are one that needs more than the basic service listed, you can upgrade your plan to an unlimited talk, text and 500MB of data for only $79.99 a year or $10.99 a month. If you need a bit more than that, you can bump your bill to $19.99 a month and take your data to 1GB of LTE/WiMax before dropping to unlimited 3G data. Remember, FreedomPop runs off the Sprint network, so your 3G speeds are actually close to the 2G speeds of some other carriers in other areas.
The biggest question about FreedomPop service is if it works or not. While a free cell bill is great, if you can’t use it, what good is it? Sprint’s network in many areas provides lackluster coverage at best. With that being said, the service itself doesn’t run like a typical cellular connection, so you just might be in luck, as long as you are within range of a Starbucks or McDonald’s.
FreedomPop uses a basic VoIP connection to complete calls. When using WiFi calls were clear and reception was very good. Pulling off WiFi and dropping to WiMax on our Samsung Galaxy S2 device revealed quite a bit more static and a bit of an issue with call quality. The quality was good enough in our home calling area, but it was definitely stronger when we were connected to a WiFi signal.
Sprint offers very good WiMax coverage in our testing area near Seattle with speeds approaching 6-12Mbps in most cases. Where the device seemed to lag was in the upload connection, under which we were only able to swing about a half MB per second stream. This was more than likely the cause of our quality drop.
First off, no matter what anyone tells you, FreedomPop is not free. Whether you pay $130 for a discounted “FreedomPop” handset or bring your own approved Sprint device and pay the $19.99 activation fee, you are still paying to get access to your new phone number. That said, for zero to almost nothing a month, FreedomPop is still a great price for service.
The process begins with a simple entry of information on the FreedomPop website. The setup only takes a few minutes. Of course, you will want to be careful that if you accept any of the free offers to make sure you cancel them before your trial runs out. These can range from the $2.49 monthly fee for voice mail to the $10.99 unlimited talk and text bundle that is included with your start up. The only fee that is due at sign-up is either the cost of the device or the $19.99 activation fee.
From there, you will be asked to select a phone number. Good luck with this one as there are very few area codes that actually come up. We were able to grab a number that was based in Ohio by just not specifying a location.
After finalizing the order, an email is sent out. If you are ordering a phone, you can begin programming it when it arrives. If you are using a qualified Sprint device, an email will arrive shortly after your payment clears with the MSL number to reset your device. Once this is done, a quick trip to the Play Store will allow you to download the FreedomPop Messaging App and you are all set.
The phone dialer at in the FreedomPop App is decent enough. The three commands at the top of the menu will open up your messages, contacts or the dialer. It is simple enough to use and makes for an overall good user experience.
The messaging portion of the App is also very good. If you are a heavy messenger, it handles the basics quite nicely, but does leave the user feeling a bit flat as far as the flashy experience goes. The messaging App definitely does the job, but when there are ‘free’ options like TextPlus Free for sending free SMS messages, it’s tough to justify the smaller 500 text limit that FreedomPop offers for no cost.
Overall, if you need a phone, and have a WiFi connection at home, FreedomPop is a pretty sweet little setup. If you have a Google Voice number, the Ohio number that FreedomPop gives you will be the perfect forwarding location for it, and with 200 minutes, you basically get around the Google Voice issues that Apps like GVoice and other SIP Apps used to supply answers to.
It’s worth noting that the FreedomPop App can also be installed on any Android device and is actually a free solution, with no activation or monthly cost. Honestly, services like Republic Wireless that offer hybrid calling will serve most people better than FreedomPop, but for a $20 bill and an old Sprint device, you can have access to that great place to forward that GV number to at the least.
In the wake of the bankruptcy filing of Solavei and the demise of Spot Mobile, many are wondering if there are additional options to move their service to. Sure, there are the big box solutions like Wal-Mart Family Plans, Net10 and Straight Talk, but what if their higher priced “unlimited” plans won’t fit your needs? Red Pocket Mobile service from 4GFastData.com can help.
With RPM GSMT plans, you can have service from $19.99 a month. That sub-$20 plan includes 300 minutes of talk, unlimited texting and unlimited 2G data. Typical 2G data speeds will range from 56kbps to 256kbps depending on market and network conditions. The $19.99 plan is the perfect solution for someone that is around Wi-Fi most of the time and communicates via text instead of voice calls.
Stepping up to the $24.99 plan, users gain unlimited talk, while losing the 2G data. For feature phones and people that just need that voice line, the $24.99 plan is a great solution and doesn’t require you to get a data plan if you don’t want one.
Jumping up to the $34.99 plan, Red Pocket Mobile starts drifting into territory normally associated with carriers like Virgin Mobile. Their Web & Texter plan is the perfect fit for 90% of the kids out there. You get 300 minutes of talk, unlimited texting and 2GB of LTE data (which is followed by unlimited 2G data.) Users can talk if they need to and communicate through chat Apps and SMS for everything else. The $34.99 price tag is a perfect solution for many users and the 2GB of LTE is double what most carriers offer in their $40 plan.
For $39.99, users drop their high speed data allotment to 500MB, but gain the additional services of unlimited voice calling and up to 200 minutes of international calling for no additional charge. The Unlimited Everything – 500MB plan is a great solution for those with relatives that live overseas, or those that just like to call coffee shops in Paris to find out what the weather is like there.
RPM continues to up the bar with their Unlimited Everything – 1GB and Unlimited Everything – 3GB plans. For $49.99 or $59.99 respectively, you get everything that is included with the Unlimited Everything – 500MB plan, including the free international credits, and more data. While paying $10 for a 500MB increase doesn’t seem very cost effective, the double the data theory for $10 isn’t the worst deal in town. The 3GB plan offers a much better bang for the buck in terms of cost increase to what you receive for it as a 2.5GB boost (500%) for $20 more is much easier to swallow.
While Red Pocket Mobile’s plans may not be the least expensive option out there, their tiers of service certainly provide more flexibility for the end user. Ranging from the $34.99 Web and Texter plan to the $59.99 Unlimited Everything – 3GB plan, RPM has just about everyone covered. Even if you just need a decent price on a monthly phone with no high speed data RPM has you covered.