Scratch Wireless Claws Its Way Back In

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In February of 2014, we covered an upstart Sprint MVNO called Scratch Wireless. The company offered users a Wi-Fi calling option that was completely free to use. Then for those days that you were out and about, a simple $1.99 a day would get you calling and texting. A bit more out of your pocket and you had data access as well. The severe problem with their model was the horribly priced Motorola Photon Q that they required you to purchase to get going. Needless to say, 6 months later, Scratch was gone.

Fast forward to today and Scratch is clawing its way back into the industry with the same freebie offering, which is offset by daily passes that will cost a user as much as a regular plan if they need them more than a couple times a month. This time, Scratch has in tow a $99 CoolPad Arise. Overall, the Arise is an entry level Jelly Bean powered device, but it is a huge step up from the older Photon that was offered for first time.

Check out scratchwireless.com to see if you could save with their monthly offerings. Many won’t, but the lighter user or the home/office user may save a ton.

Hello Huawei SnapTo: The Sub-$200 Phone War Just Got Real

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When the conversation comes up about buying a new smartphone, usually the only time prices drop under the $200 level is when you are looking at some entry level handset to get you by until you can save for something better, or if you’ve abandoned your contract-free thinking and decided to get that latest flagship, no matter how much more a month it costs you. Out to change that thought is the new Huawei SnapTo. This 5” beast of a device has a street price of just $179.99 and it is worth every penny of that, and then some. Of course, more important than price is the fact of whether or not if it is the right phone for you?

The build quality on the Huawei SnapTo is very good. It doesn’t quite rival the quality of those $650 flagship devices that are on the market right now, but as far as the quality goes for a $200 device goes, it is top notch. The SnapTo is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor running a Quad-core 1.2GHz configuration. Not the latest by any standards, but certainly a stronger competitor than some of the lower cost options that are available today. It is hindered slightly by only having 1GB of RAM, but as long as you keep the multitasking loads to a minimum, it should continue to run smoothly throughout the day. The 8GB of internal storage can be added to by utilizing the included MicroSD slot, which was confirmed to work with most 32GB cards.

The 5MP shooter on the SnapTo yielded some good images, but again, it depends on what you are comparing the camera to. If you are moving from a Galaxy S5 or an Nokia Lumia 1520, you’ll be a bit disappointed with the optics on the SnapTo. If you take mostly snapshots outdoors, the SnapTo will take care of you just fine. The front facing shooter features a 2MP camera that takes decent enough selfies to share with friends on Instagram. Overall, the screen is the star of the show with the SnapTo. The 5” display has a pixel density of 294 PPI, which is amazing in a device at this price point. The 66% screen to body ratio is also pretty enticing on the SnapTo.

The SnapTo ships ready for US GSM carriers and their MVNOs. It is unlocked out of the box, so using it across networks and plans is no issue. This device does not feature CDMA frequencies, so Verizon and Sprint users our out of luck, but the rest of the US universe is in luck right out of the box. The SnapTo also has Android 4.4 as the base OS, with a probable upgrade to Lollipop later this year.

The SnapTo is available for $179.99 from Amazon and it ships free to Prime members. If you are looking for a strong Android powered device for under $200, you will want to check out the Huawei SnapTo. Hit the link below to grab yourself one today.

Link: Huawei SnapTo

Keeping Pace: Best Deals In Prepaid Wireless For May 2015

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Every month, the MVNO market gets a bit more competitive. Carriers like Republic Wireless that drop a $5 Wi-Fi only plan on people get the headlines with their $60 a year price tag. Still others like FreedomPop, offer freemium service with the purchase of a refurbished handset at a huge discount. The growing trend though can be found in the carriers themselves, but not in the way you might think. More and more carriers are offering competitive prepaid/no credit check options that may shock you and the bill you pay to them quite a bit.

Best Value: Verizon Wireless Network

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If you are a Verizon Wireless user, you are probably tired of seeing your bill go up and up and your service seems to drop a bit at a time. Well, to reign things in, Verizon has a new offering on their $45 prepaid plan. For $45 a month, users receive unlimited talk and text as well as 1GB of LTE data. When they sign up for AutoPay, Verizon will credit the user an additional GB of data every month for life. That makes it equal to a postpaid plan that would be valued at $90 a month with 2 year pricing on your phone or over $70 with a Verizon Edge agreement. Overall, the $45 plan is run on the strongest network in the country, features no additional taxes and will save you $300-500 a year over a contract price with Verizon.

Best Value: Sprint Network

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We have to give to nod on this one, once again, to Boost Mobile. Their simplistic $30 a month for 2GB of LTE data with unlimited talk and text is just a deal. While Boost plans don’t include that valuable Verizon roaming that is included with the Sprint postpaid offerings, they do include access to Sprint Spark where it is available. Check the coverage map for your area and start watching the savings pile up with this plan’s $850 2 year cost. By the way, that cost even includes a new HTC Desire 510 or Microsoft Lumia 635. Again, and we can’t stress this enough, check the coverage map for the areas you need to user your device on this one. If they are all solid, this is one of the best values in wireless right now.

Best Value: T-Mobile Network

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T-Mobile’s MVNO situation is about as confusing as it gets. While there are plenty of options, and most of them are priced in the same range, we pretty much have to rank them on available service plans and savings since everything else is created equal. For now, Ptel Mobile still offers the best bang for the buck – and we say for now, because it seems like someone else is rolling out some new plan daily on T-Mobile’s network. For starters, Ptel Mobile has a leg up on the competition due to their 1 months free port in credit. Sign up, bring your number and your second month is on them. Simple.

Part two of the Ptel Mobile deals is the fact that you can choose what plan you want based on how much data you’ll need. With a $35 1GB LTE plan and a $40 2GB LTE plan, light users are covered for less. If you need the extra large 10GB plans, you might want to consider jumping over to Simple Mobile as their data allotments going up to the higher priced plans are a bit higher.

Best Value: AT&T Network

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Once again, we have to give the nod to a carrier prepaid plan for the AT&T network. Getting the benefits of a home network rather than a cut rate MVNO network is pretty great. The AT&T GoPhone plan is a simple $45 a month plan that includes 1.5GB of LTE data and unlimited 2G data after you burn through that for the remainder of the billing cycle. This makes it a no brainer for those that want the reliability of AT&T’s network. If you aren’t as critical about network speeds, check out the options from Cricket Wireless.

The $45 monthly plan will save you about $50 a month over AT&T’s postpaid rates and won’t make you sacrifice coverage or network speeds to do so. Red Pocket Mobile takes home an honorable mention with their $39.99 plan that offers 500MB of LTE data before throttling users down to 2G speeds, but snagging that extra GB of data from AT&T directly for just $5 a month more is just too good of deal to pass on.

Cheaper Is Only Better When It Works Right

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There is quite a bit of confusion surrounding these new cost saving cellular plans. How do they work? Do they work? Will I really save as much as they say I will? As confusing as it is, when a blog runs a sponsored post, it gets even harder to understand. Like one of our favorite Windows Phone sites, Windows Central, recently ran a ‘sponsored’ article from FreedomPop. While we love what FreedomPop does, it’s not compatible with Windows, so why on earth would they be running an article about it? In an effort to help you out, here’s a 5 second rundown on what to expect from these lower cost providers.

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Probably the most popular service around at the moment is the aforementioned FreedomPop. FreedomPop runs on the Sprint data network and your existing Wi-Fi connections. Using a VoIP system, FreedomPop offers users 200 minutes of talk, 500 text messages and 500MB of LTE/3G Data. Where FreedomPop saves the cash is by using software to offload your voice calls to a data connection. In reality, you aren’t getting a cell phone or free minutes, you are getting a data enabled connection to use when you aren’t within range of a usable Wi-Fi network.

FreedomPop kicks off their plans with the freebie noted above. For an extra $7.99 a month, you can upgrade to 500 minutes of talk, unlimited texts and the same 500MB of data. For $10.99 a month, you increase to unlimited talk and for $19.99 a month, you double your data to 1GB of high speed and unlimited 3G after that. Overall, for those looking for an emergency phone, a cheaper overseas calling solution or other cost cutting means of communication, FreedomPop may not be the best choice. For those that want a dependable Wi-Fi phone without a commitment or an expensive out of pocket monthly cost, FreedomPop is the perfect choice.

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Republic Wireless is next on the list. Republic is a pseudo wireless carrier. That’s not a bad thing though. By using the Sprint cellular network, yes, that is important to note, they offer a few different steps for people starting as low as $5 a month. That $5 a month garners you unlimited talk and text over Wi-Fi connections only. For $10, you add the ability to make calls and send texts over the Sprint cellular network. For $25 you add unlimited 3G data access to the mix. Upping your monthly expenses to $40 allows you full ‘unlimited’ access to the Sprint LTE network.

Republic runs off a special hybrid calling system. It uses a combination of cellular and VoIP technology. It’s probably the most balanced plan of the cost cutters out there, but honestly, if you need the higher speed cellular data, it doesn’t save you much over the competition. The big talk of savings uses the $5 and $10 plans for their examples. What they don’t tell you is that you can accomplish a bit better deal using Google’s Hangouts and a data only SIM from someone like Red Pocket Mobile to create the same type of setup. While Republic Wireless does offer you the ability to roll back to cellular calling when needed, their lack of data on the $5 and $10 plans makes them somewhat less attractive to the smartphone user.

Perhaps if you were coming from a feature phone and aren’t used to the ‘data anywhere’ lifestyle or if you are in an area with a heavy saturation of public Wi-Fi, the $10 plan would be a great fit for you and your smartphone. If not, the $25 plan speeds are usually very slow and the $40 plan puts you in a range higher than Boost Mobile and many other prepaid service. For those that want the ability to use the Sprint cellular network to make voice calls and send text message and that alone, the $120 a year cost and the $99 Moto E make Republic Wireless a complete steal, even if there isn’t a Wi-Fi connection to be found anywhere.

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At just 5 cents a minutes and 2 cents a text message, Ptel Mobile offers up quite a few lower cost options. The MVNO operates on the T-Mobile network and has $100 refills available that last up to 365 days. To put things in perspective, that $100 refill gets you 2,000 minutes of talk per year or 5,000 text messages. For example, if you talk about 100 minutes a month, and send about 500 texts, your bill will land at around $15 a month. That $100 top up will last you over 6 months. When you pair the Ptel Mobile PayGo plan with a lower cost smartphone from Amazon or other reseller, your year long cost can be well under the $250 mark.

If you need something a bit more ‘unlimited’ than  that, you can plop down a $20 bill every month for a nice unlimited talk and text plan on that same T-Mobile network. If you don’t mind running a bit slower on the data front, you can purchase the $25 a month unlimited plan that includes unlimited talk, text and 2G data. Yes, it’s slow, really slow, but it does keep you connected almost everywhere T-Mobile has service. For $35 you start jumping into the LTE range and back out of extreme value plans just like Republic Wireless above.

For the light user, the Ptel Mobile PayGo plans are a serious money saver. For the heavier user, they will cost you quite a bit more than some other options. Keep this in mind when you think about going to the PayGo route, it might be a much better rate for the light user, even if you have a month or two where you go over your average minutes. Ptel Mobile has a great calculator on the rates page to check out how much you can expect to spend on this contract free offering. Check out the Ptel Mobile website and see if you can start saving with their PayGo offering.

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Going LTE and Google Hangouts is something that many people are slowly discovering. The lower cost of cellular data with plans like the Red Pocket Mobile, T-Mobile based $10 per GB monthly data only plan, can make for one cheap bill for users. With a good Wi-Fi calling solution like Hangouts Dialer, that small chunk of LTE data from Red Pocket Mobile can easily substitute for even the best phone service on the planet. For just $10 a GB, that works out to quite a few texts and a ton of voice calls, you can keep rolling all month long – as long as you stay within ear shot of that Wi-Fi connection most of the time.

The data only option wasn’t really a viable plan even just a few years ago. Fortunately, companies like Google have poured their resources into making it better and better. VoIP quality has increased and some carriers are even beginning to roll out VoLTE services, which is essentially a voice over internet service optimized for mobile networks. A simple plan like the $10 per GB Red Pocket Mobile plan can certainly save users money. By pairing it with Google’s Hangout services and a good home and work Wi-Fi network, the savings will quickly pile up for you.

The bottom line on any of these free or lower cost cellular options is that there is always going to be a trade off. If you have had Verizon’s monster coverage for the last 10 years and expect the same level of coverage with a $10 a month plan, you’re going to be disappointed. If you are sick of the $150 a month bill that Verizon keeps dropping on you and are willing to give up a bit of that service for a bill that is 1/3 that size or less, you owe it to yourself to check these options out. Even just bringing your out of contract Verizon phone to a Red Pocket Mobile CDMAV plan will save you $100 a month. Hit up the links below and see what carrier fits your needs best and how you can start putting more cash in your pocket and less in your carriers.

Links:  Red Pocket MobilePtel MobileRepublic WirelessFreedomPop

How Verizon Killed The HTC One M9

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When the HTC One M9 came to market, it brought along with is some amazing new features. As we ticked down the list of these great, everyday add-on items, we noticed something strange… So many of them don’t appear on our Verizon Wireless model of the HTC One M9. Missing from Big Red’s M9 are a couple of really great features that are found on other devices, including the unlocked varieties. While the device itself hasn’t undergone a change, the lack of these features could be a deal breaker for some since they are a pretty major upgrade from past models.

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The first missing feature is the HTC Backup App. This allowed a user to move from one HTC device to another with no issue at all. Moving from an M8 to an M9 was no problem with HTC Backup. Simply save your data to your Dropbox or Google Drive and open the App on your new device to import it. This worked great on the upgrade from the M7 to the M8, but was somehow missing from our M9. It turns out, Verizon cut this feature from the device in order to make users pay for their own backup and restore feature. Sad that you would have to pay for something that HTC included for free.

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Next up, Easy Mode. While some of us like crazy complex home screens and tiny text, the M9 included a great addition called Easy Mode. It resembled a bit of a Windows Phone look with big buttons and clear text. It was a serious attraction for the older crowd or for those with less than stellar eye sight. It also gave one touch access to just about anywhere you needed to go. Again, missing from the M9 on Verizon. We couldn’t find a decent reason for this one, except for maybe Verizon didn’t want to add an extra page to their user guide? Other than that, this one has us speechless.

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Finally, gone from the menu is the setting for ‘Power Saver’ mode. Power saving mode allowed a user to turn off certain functions of the device and to decrease the screen brightness when full power wasn’t needed. It also allowed the radios to be shutdown when not in use as well. Power Saver mode could increase the battery life of the M9 by quite a bit during a normal day of usage. Fortunately, Verizon left Extreme Power Saver mode in there, but that pretty much cripples the device, which makes it rather useless, unless you are just using your new M9 as a Walkman.

Unfortunately, this shows how badly a carrier can mangle a device. Even something as good as the HTC One M9 isn’t safe from carrier tampering. Whether it was something as simple as removing the backup and restore functionality from a device or something as dramatic as ripping out a complete OS feature, tampering with the advertised feature set of a device should not be tolerated by anyone. If you have an HTC One M9 on Verizon and feel a bit jaded by not getting these features included with your device, tell us in the comments below!

Grab A Free Samsung Galaxy S6 From Sprint

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The tech press is still drooling over the Samsung Galaxy S6. The new, premium build quality is second to none. The new, higher speed 64-bit Octa-core processor blows through daily tasks without destroying the 2550 mAh battery. The 5.1” Quad HD display that has a resolution higher than many televisions. Even the 16MP rear facing camera has made huge steps forward over last year’s model. Probably the most amazing part of the Samsung Galaxy S6 is the deal that you can get on one from Sprint right now.

If you are in the market to switch to the Sprint Spark LTE network, they have constructed a deal for you. For just $80 a month (or the same as just the plan itself on rival T-Mobile,) you can land yourself a truly unlimited plan and that precious new Samsung Galaxy S6. For just $5 more, you can side-grade/upgrade to the Galaxy S6 Edge instead.

While the device isn’t technically free, it works out to be a ‘free device’ while you are on that Sprint Unlimited Plan. With 24 months of free phone payments on your new Samsung Galaxy S6, Sprint is virtually giving you a free phone for 2 years with their unlimited plan offering. Again, if you prefer the bezel-less design of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, you can put that baby in your pocket for just $5 more a month. You can visit Sprint.com to take advantage of this great offer before it disappears!

Source: Sprint.com

T-Mobile Fires Their Next Shots At Verizon Wireless

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In their latest attack on the wireless industry, T-Mobile is offering up Verizon Wireless users an almost unbeatable deal. Beginning May 13th, T-Mobile will be offering Verizon users a free test drive of their “superior” data strong network. Users will have 14 days to take things for a spin before having to decide if they want to stay with Mr. Legere or move on back to old faithful.

Of course, T-Mobile will be depending on their ultra fast LTE and lower cost billing to keep you around. If that’s not enough, the usual $650 per line credit can be applied to pay off your Verizon plan as well if you need it. To make the deal even better, and a bit more risk free, they will also pay for you to rejoin your former carrier if you decide you want to.

The deal begins May 13th at http://www.T-Mobile.com or at your local T-Mobile retail location.