When it comes to saving cash on your cellular bill, there are a few options to really cut that bill. One of the more popular options is the wireless carrier Ting. Operating on both the Sprint and T-Mobile networks, Ting has a low cost plan available for anyone that only uses their phone a little bit each month. Ring Plus on the other hand, offers basic free plans and has options to take care of even the largest users every month. Of course, it’s not a low cost comparison unless you include the VoIP powered FreedomPop into the mix. They all have to different philosophies but each has the same end goal in mind, to get your cellular business by saving you money.
Ting uses a very straight forward method of saving. They bill you based on what you actually use each month. For $6, you get your line activated. You then buy chunks of minutes, texts and data based on your normal usage. For a lighter user, this can mean a bill as low as $15 a month. For heavier users, the savings often disappear before you even hit your normal usage levels. For example, someone that uses over 1000 minutes a month, with 1500 text messages (that’s 750 back and forth a month) and 2GB of data, the monthly bill would be $100 a month. Not the savings that many heavy users would be looking for. But if you are able to keep your minutes down and keep that data in check, that $15 price tag could be a real saver.
Ring Plus on the other hand, also runs on the Sprint network, but does not have a T-Mobile option available at this point. It is also priced more like a traditional plan. First off, let’s not gloss over their Truly Free plan for the light user. The free plan includes 125 minutes of talk, 40 texts and 10MB of data. For those that need a bit more, you can slide in to the free Pepper plan. The Pepper includes 250 minutes of talk, 500 texts and the same 10MB of data. The Pepper plan requires a $5 top-up be loaded on to your account and a balance of $5 must be left in the account at all times. They are also continuously running ‘specials’ that offer larger free plans for various top-up amounts, so make sure to check in often to see if a plan is the right one for you.
Moving past the freebie plans, you have a few options with Ring Plus when you want a plan that offers a bit more than the basics. Starting at $10 a month (or about $13-15 with taxes, depending on your area) you get 700 minutes of talk, 300 texts and 1GB of data. The $19.99 Cherry plan includes unlimited talk and text plus 2GB of data. An additional $10 gets you 3GB, and bringing your plan to the $39.99 level gets you 4GB. Finally for $49.99 you get an unlimited talk and text plan, plus 6GB of data. Overall, as a lower cost provider, Ring Plus has a plan for just about anyone.
FreedomPop is the last of the low cost Sprint providers that we are covering in this battle. FreedomPop is a bit tougher to compare based on one huge issue, they only run calls through the Sprint cellular network when the data connection you are using isn’t strong enough to route calls. Pretty much the only way we’ve been able to ‘guarantee’ this was to shut down the LTE radio on our device and force it to 3G. That said, once you figure out how the VoIP service works with your device, the voice quality isn’t too bad, and you can still force the device to use something like Google Hangouts for voice calls as well.
Now, once you get past the short comings of the FreedomPop program, they also offer a few enticing plans for the smaller user. First off, their completely free plan includes 250 minutes of talk, 500 texts and 500MB of data per month. With their Freedom Friends program, you can quickly find people in their forums to add data to your account bringing it up to 1GB. The free plan works over Wi-Fi and the Sprint LTE network. For those that need a bit more, for $10.99 a month, you can upgrade to unlimited talk and text or for $19.99 you can upgrade to unlimited talk, text and 1GB of LTE data before dropping to unlimited 3G data. Any of the FreedomPop plans can be supplemented with their Freedom Friends free data addition.
Now that we have the three options covered, it’s time to tell you which one will work best for you and give you the best value for your dollar.
First on our list is Ring Plus. Ring Plus offers cellular calling, lower prices, more plans and an overall better value for the mid to upper user. With their freemium plans being available on a regular basis right now to boost their subscriber ship, they are positioned well for the future.
Now, it’s not all perfect at Ring Plus, their Freemium model is supported by advertising that you hear when you make calls instead of a standard ringing tone. Can be annoying and creates a slight lag when the other party answers. This carriers through to the paid plans as well. They offset the additional amounts of data or minutes that are given to you at a lower cost by playing a ring back tone or a small message about their services when you call out. Your incoming calls are still just a standard ring. Overall, the price for performance on Ring Plus is stellar and comes highly recommended.
Our second choice, FreedomPop. FreedomPop really has the right idea with their forward thinking model, and the fact that they have been up and running for over 2 years with their model shows that it is working well. It’s not perfect by any means, but if you are looking for a phone for mainly messaging and browsing your social media pages, you can’t do much better than FreedomPop.
The drawbacks to the FreedomPop program are minimal once you understand them. First off, you probably want to log in and disable that ‘free trial’ as soon as possible. Billing issues and errors are one of the biggest complaints about the service. Call quality seems to be a bit of a mystery as well. Once you have selected about 10 different codecs from their App, the quality seems to stabilize a bit, but it can still be a bit spotty at times. Our biggest gripe with the service is the fact that many numbers aren’t able to be ported into their system and they don’t have local numbers available for many states. If you have a Google Voice number though, FreedomPop is a great portal for running your Hangouts system.
Finally, Ting wraps up our comparison. Ting is a great alternative for those that can’t use the Sprint network in their area. Being able to use the T-Mobile network instead of Sprint’s also lowers the cost of handsets and increases the selection a billion times over. Unfortunately if you use your phone for more than a few minutes a month and like to chew through much data, MVNO’s like GIV Mobile and PTel Mobile will be much better deals for you in the long run.