Yes, that epic company from 1996 is still alive and kicking. What used to be a carrier alternative for those with incredibly bad credit or those that just wanted to hide in a cave, is now one of the largest telecoms in the world. While you may not see much of the TracFone branding around, except at the Quicky Mart, the controlling company, America Movil, is one of the largest cellular carriers in the world today. All said, the global wireless membership of America Movil’s many MVNO’s is over 250 million subscribers.
The TracFone brand is one that scooped up many of their competitors over the last few years. Their brothers in cellular battle now include the TracFone brand, Net10 Wireless, Safelink Wireless, Straight Talk, Telcel America, Simple Mobile and Page Plus Cellular. We’ve seen plenty of plans from many of those carriers, but how does TracFone stack up in the market today?
Starting off, you can choose a monthly value plan or a pay by the minute option. The pay by the minute options start at $9.99 for 30 minutes and go up to $199.99 for 1500 minutes. Many of their phones for purchase include a double or triple minutes per life deal, which brings you up to 90 minutes for $10 or 4500 minutes for $200. The best deal looks to be the 400 minute plan (good for 365 days) and the double minutes deal. This gives you a total of 2400 minutes for just $120. That works out to just under $.05 a minute and keeps that phone active for a full year. It also gives you an average of 200 minutes a month to use, while allowing the balance to be rolled over when you renew each year. This is a savings of $120 over plans like Red Pocket Mobile’s $19.99 a month plan with 250 minutes.
Mobile web can be added to your TracFone plan as well in small to medium chunks for a slightly above market price. For $10, users can gain 300MB of data for basic browsing on their devices. This is the perfect add on for checking emails and some social networking. For $20, you can snag 750MB and for $50, you get a full 2GB of data. Now, before panic sets in, remember, 2GB of data at $50 and $10 a month for TracFone voice service puts the monthly cost at $60 a month. If you can keep that data in check and use more WiFi, you can walk away with a full smartphone plan for under $20 a month on TracFone. Even better than that is if you can keep that data usage down to about 200MB a month and purchase the 2GB plan with that $120 in minutes. That would be a cell bill of only $14.16 per month with TracFone.
TracFone appears to have a solid foothold in the pay as you go market, mainly by offering those rollover minutes and data plans that people like, along with offering long term refills that last a full year for emergency phones. For under $60 you can have your choice of any of the TracFone handsets being offered in their lineup. Again, TracFone isn’t going to be the plan of choice for those with a new iPhone 6 or HTC One M8, but if you need a good reliable form of communication in a device with huge battery life, TracFone could be a solid choice for you.
If you are one of the lucky people that signed on to the Cricket Wireless 5 lines for $100 plan, there is some bad news ahead for you. According to a Cricket Wireless customer service representative, the price on your plan is going to come up a bit in the next few months. Upon checking the rates of a 4 line plan, we found that the $100 rate that is active right now will only be there for anther month or two before it increases $10. While this is still a great deal, this leads us to believe that the 5 line plan will also go up a minimum of $20, but more than likely $30.
Cricket may modify Group Save and/or these Terms and Conditions from time to time in its sole discretion, with or without notice, and your continued participation in Group Save after such modification shall be deemed to be your acceptance of any such modification. – from Important Group Save Terms and Information
Currently, the 5 lines for $100 plan includes unlimited talk and text and 1GB of LTE data (8 Mbps speeds) before you are slowed to 2G speeds for the remainder of your billing cycle. For $10 per line more, you can get 3GB of LTE speeds, while $20 per line extra gets you 10GB of LTE before being slowed. You can also apply the upgrades to individual lines should you want to do so. According to the CSR, existing users will not be grandfathered in with their current discount rate, but the pricing is still one of the best offers in wireless.
It’s also worth noting that Cricket Wireless has a few online specials on devices right now as well. The Nokia Lumia 630, the ZTE Sonata 4G and the ZTE Overture LTE are all free after mail-in rebate. You only pay the tax on these entry level handsets, which makes the move to Cricket look even better right now. If you want a bit more phone, the ZTE Grand X is also on the rebate program, but the street price of $149.99 makes the device cost $99.99 after MIR.
If you are a single line user, make sure to check out the auto-pay savings options at Cricket Wireless as well. The
Source: Cricket Wireless
About two months ago, we started an adventure in cell service with FreedomPop. With a trusty Galaxy SII in our pockets and a $20 activation fee, we began the quest to find truly FREE cellular service. Now, there are two things to think about when you talk ‘free’ service. One, nothing is ever free. Two, service can mean very different things to different people. Knowing that, let’s take a quick look at how well FreedomPop delivered.
Voice Service: The freebie plan through FreedomPop includes 200 minutes of voice usage, 500 text message and 500MB of WiMax data. Now, WiFi data is completely free, but voice and texts still count against those totals. By finding friends with FreedomPop, you also can earn extra data (50MB per friend, per month) to increase that cap. The limits are good for someone that uses very little service, but for realistic usage, most people would need more unless they are constantly around WiFi.
Moving forward from the limitations, we have a very solid little plan for the smartphone starter. When comparing it to a plan like the $5 Republic Wireless plan, the deal becomes stronger. The hardware cost, if you don’t have a phone that will port in, is as little as $119 for the Samsung Victory LTE. This compares to the Moto G that RW offers up price wise, but offers LTE data unlike the 3G counterpart from Republic. Of course, for as little as $399, you can step up to the iPhone 5. Our little decrepit Samsung Galaxy SII activated on the service just fine though, so the $20 activation fee was all we paid to get rolling.
Voice calls over the WiFi connections were good, though the dialer software often got confused and had two calls going at once. Very strange, but again, for a free service, it’s almost to be expected. If you are careful about when and who you call, this won’t be an issue for most people. Call quality, on the other hand, was very good on both the cellular and the WiFi networks. There seemed to be a slight delay in some conversations, but probably not more than a second at most. It seemed like the stronger the data stream, the shorter the delay was.
Messaging with the FreedomPop Messenger App was a breeze. Though, most users may opt for a data centric messaging option like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or even Skype. 500 SMS messages are great when you need them, but many users will blow that cap in a number of days, if not sooner.
With great options, including Google Voice and Hangouts being available, it’s hard not to think that 500 emergency text messages wouldn’t do the trick for someone. Basic communication can be done with many other apps out there, so we don’t see the lack of SMS messages as a major issue.
Moving forward to the actual data speeds that you will be using to get those Facebook updates and tweets read, the download speeds were fine coming in in the 4-8Mbps range. The uploads, however, were a major issue. Since this would be the path that your outgoing voice uses, the quarter to half Mbps speeds were not adequate for quality calls.
Since FreedomPop uses only the Sprint data network, calls aren’t routed over the CDMA voice lines. Calls are made via the software using a VoIP dialer instead. Again, if you are around WiFi, you won’t have much of an issue, but this is where someone like a Republic Wireless really has an advantage with their $10 a month plan. They roll over to the cellular network for calling when WiFi isn’t to be found. FreedomPop doesn’t have this option as all the calls are placed as VoIP over the data network.
Overall, FreedomPop isn’t a solution for everyone out there. It is for the light user that might need a phone to take in the car for emergencies or someone that just wants to have a messaging service that goes with them on the road. The lack of Sprint’s network quality really hurts FreedomPop’s appeal. That said, if you are around a good WiFi connection consistently, the quality of the cellular network won’t come into play very often and in those times that it does, you can always fire off a quick text just to let someone know that you are in a poor coverage area and will call them back when you can.
Our FreedomPop experience doesn’t win us over completely, but then again, we were dealing with a 3 year old, used Galaxy S II that runs on WiMax. We would love to have FreedomPop send us a new LTE device to test out and update this review further with, but we won’t hold our breath on that.
The bottom line on the service, it is free, and it is worth more than that price. If you find yourself needing a bit higher usage limits, grab the yearly plan for $79.99 that includes unlimited talk, text and 1GB of high speed data every month. That puts the cost under $17 with that Samsung Victory and unlimited service every month. If you are looking at a value provider, it doesn’t get any cheaper than that.
One of the longest term players in the Fitness App world is SportsTrackLive. For over 6 years, STL has been around to track your runs, rides and just about anything else you could throw at it. Unfortunately, on October 14th, the announcement came that STL was shuttering their doors and closing up shop. As of November 1st, the servers would be gone and everything with it. What nobody saw coming was a next step and a second chance.
Just 10 days later, the good folks at SportsTrackLive are offering their users a second chance. They need to have 1,500 subscribers to their new ‘premium’ service at a measly $2.50 a month to keep themselves going. You can access the sign up page here: Get Premium Now
For those that don’t know SportsTrackLive, it is a great App for fitness buffs. With a simple tracking scheme, STL keeps you workouts, runs, walks, and other activities all in one place. The Live GPS feature tracks your distance activities and maps them for later use in a standard GPX format. You can save these files and compete with friends as they download your route and run it against you later. Simply put, it’s one of the strongest fitness Apps on the market today.
The timing on this couldn’t have been stranger as at the beginning of October, a newer version of the App was launched supporting the Samsung Galaxy Gear Live. Earlier in the year, the App was released with updates for the Gear Live and the LG G Watch, but the update brought additional functions to the wearable market.
If you are a fitness lover, SportsTrackLive has been one of those Apps that everyone has ‘borrowed’ from over the years. One of the first on the scene is still one of the best and will just keep getting better with your support. If you haven’t tried it yet, download the App at the link below and give it a run. If you like it as much as we know you will, you should sign up and give something that will only cost you about as much as half a cup of coffee a month a serious workout.
Sign Up for Premium Service: Get Premium Now
Download for Android: SportsTracker
Download the PRO version for Android: SportsTracker PRO ($4.99)
If a rumor post has any credence at all, it appears that the Uncarrier is undoing one of the best ideas they ever had, their free bonus data plans. The ‘internal memo’ that is making the rounds right now indicates that this could be your last week to purchase the 4 line, 10GB plan for $100 a month through 2015.
Final Week! 4 Lines for $100 w/10GB Data Feature & Other Promo Offers to be Grandfathered October 29 (Retail, TPR, TPRi, EDPC)
On October 29, the following will be grandfathered, which means this is the last chance to offer customers the 4 Lines for $100 with 10GB data offer!
- Promo $100 4 – 5 Line Family plan
- Promo $0 2.5GB data feature
- Promo $10 4.5GB data feature
Important: Other family plans will still be available on October 29, including the 2 – 5 Line Family plan and 6+ Line Family plans. This means that customers can still get 4 lines for $100 with our standard data features.”
While it is very difficult to confirm this deal, we can only assume the worst, that it is true. The rumor is even being reported by very well known sites like T-Mo News and they are usually spot on with T-Mobile’s leaks. Hopefully this just opens the door for Mr. Legere and co. to do some holiday magic for us. As long as it’s not so they can raise their prices and dress up as AT&T for Halloween, it will probably work out ok.
Needless to say, if you’ve been on the fence about signing up on one of these ‘$100 family plans’ with T-Mobile, MetroPCS or Cricket, the time to be getting is probably about here. If this is going to signal a change for T-Mobile’s pricing, it’s probably going to affect the others as well.
It is worth noting as you think about that, the $100 Simple Choice plan still includes unlimited music streaming, 1GB of data per line and you can still upgrade each line for about $10 each. All in all, it’s not the end of the universe if you miss out on this one.
This weekend, Amazon’s App Store is offering up a few gratis kid friendly titles. Included in the sale is Yo Gabba Gabba, Fionna Fights – Adventure, Kids Measurements, Kids Reading Camp, Mathemagica, Rewards Chart, Owl and Pals Preschool, Gro Flowers and Words and Riddles.
Also included in the sale are a few big kid titles as well. Fast Food Nutrition, Grocery Shopping List, House Cleaning List, Motivated Moms – 2, Healthy Habit Tracker are also free this weekend. Click the link below to get the full list and start downloading them today!
When you are in the market for a contract free phone, manufacturers like Blu, Motorola and Nokia have been coming up huge lately. A name that has snuck by the competition is Huawei. Their relatively new Ascend Mate 2 4G LTE device is a stunning accomplishment in the sub $300 smartphone market. Priced as an unlocked, contract free handset option, paring the Ascend Mate 2 4G LTE with a plan from www.4gfastdata.com can be a match made in heaven. Put it this way, the cost of the device and 24 months of unlimited service on Red Pocket Mobile from www.4gfastdata.com would be $1259.75. This compares to the same deal with a Galaxy Note 3 from T-Mobile that will set you back over $2300!
The Ascend Mate 2 4G LTE is a beast of a phone. Its chassis protects a monstrously huge 6.1” display, a 13MP rear camera, a 5MP front camera and LTE radios for both AT&T and T-Mobile. The light plastic backing is comfortable and light, but doesn’t feel cheap. The device also features a few unique software settings that we will get into a bit more later. First, let’s shoot through the amazing hardware that makes up the Ascend Mate 2 4G LTE.
The display on the Ascend Mate 2 4G LTE is brilliant and clear. The HD display has a 720×1280 pixel setup that equals out to about 241ppi. Not the sharpest on the planet, but for browsing the web, watching movies and doing some heavy document editing, it works absolutely beautifully. The surface of the display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass III. It is not the clearest display I’ve ever laid my eyes on, but as far as screens go, it’s a superb display.
The Ascend Mate 2 4G LTE runs Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) out of the box. It features a solid Quad-Core Snapdragon 400 processor running at 1.6GHz. The Adreno 305 GPU had no problem rendering 3D games or just about anything else that was thrown at it. The device runs those games and Apps through 2GB of RAM and the 16GB of included internal storage (about 12MB usable). There is an SD card slot for expansion up to 32GB – confirmed.
The dual camera setup on the Ascend Mate 2 4G LTE is one of beauty. The 5MP front camera features a “groufie” mode that allows you to take a ‘panoramic’ front camera shot to get you and all your friends in one image. It works very well and gets pretty large groups into the image area. The rear 13MP shooter was accurate and did a great job with daylight stills. Action shots represented more of a challenge as most of them featured a pretty heavy blur. I don’t think I would take the Ascend Mate 2 4G LTE to capture my kid’s football games, but it sure does a great job on sunsets and dinner plates.
The Ascend Mate 2 4G LTE has one of the best battery life’s of any smartphone I have ever had the pleasure of testing. The 3900mAh battery powers through a full day of use, then allows me to charge the wife’s Nokia Lumia 920, and still have enough to get through most of the next day. In short, there is nothing else like it on the planet. If you are a heavy user, the battery life alone on this beast should be enough to make you swoon.
From here we start to delve into the world of Huawei’s special software. The Ascend Mate 2 4G LTE features two operational modes, normal and Simple Mode. Simple Mode does exactly what it says. It takes the complex Android layout and turns it in to giant buttons, similar to Windows Phone Tiles. It makes finding what you need quick and easy. This is an ideal solution to the smartphone users that just isn’t sure they need a smartphone yet.
A few other software features are the aforementioned “groufie” mode for the front camera, gloves mode – which takes the sensitivity of the screen up a notch so you can use with gloves on, WOW – Windows on Windows mode that allows you to take notes or perform some other tasks while watching a video or browsing the internet, and singled handed mode for using the gigantic display with just one hand.
Overall, Huawei hit one out of the park with the Ascend Mate 2 4G LTE. The device performs like a phone costing $850 and doesn’t come with any strings attached to it’s $299 price tag. Again, LTE radios for both AT&T and T-Mobile are on board in the Ascend Mate 2 4G LTE so carrier choice is not a problem for this device. Any GSM carrier or an MVNO of them will work beautifully with the Ascend Mate 2 4G LTE. In fact, we highly recommend visiting www.4gfastdata.com and seeing what plan is right for you, right after you order your own Ascend Mate 2 4G LTE.
More information: Ascend Mate 2 4G LTE