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  1. #1
    Footballus vita est iamlucky13's Avatar
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    Non Contract Mobile Phones

    Does anybody here have experience with contract-free mobile phones? After going with no telephone at all for almost 2 months, I'm finally giving in to pressure from my family to get a cell phone, and this looks like the best option for me. I'm interested to know what sort of fees beyond the minutes are typically included (activation, taxes, etc) and whether or not reception tends to be more limited. If anybody has experience using both no contract service and regular monthly service, I'd love to hear some comparison and contrast.

    So far I've been looking at T-mobile, Cingular, and Verizon. I know Liberty Wireless also serves my area, but I can't find detailed information on their coverage and network protocol, and there may be 1 or 2 others I haven't checked for service yet. T-mobile seems like the best deal, since I can buy 1000 minutes for $100 and I would have 1 year to use them up.
    "The internet is a place where absolutely nothing happens. You need to take advantage of that." ~ Strong Bad

  2. #2
    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    It's ok, so long as you don't use it very often. Make sure to check the contract to find out how many minutes are used for merely connecting a call...some carriers get cheap about this, specifying a call can be no shorter than X minutes (One carrier my friend had was 3 minutes minmum....which was horrible...he was always running out of minutes)

    Also keep in mind you pay for the phone outright, so it's usually about $60-100 for a phone.

    I currently use T-Mobile for contract service down here in FL, and they aren't bad at all.
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  3. #3
    Footballus vita est iamlucky13's Avatar
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    I haven't found any details about minimum minute charges, but I'll definitely check up on it now. I know Cingular and Verizon charge $1 for any day the phone is used, plus 10 cents/minute, so I'd better check up on T-mobile to see if there's anything similar.

    I already took into account having to buy the phone outright. With T-mobile, assuming I don't use minutes significantly faster than I expect to, going no-contract vs contract reaches the break-even point in about 7 months, and it gives me more flexibility if I later decide a contract is right for me.
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    I had been under cell phone contracts for much of the past 12 years. I finally got tired of guaranteeing the cell phone company that I was theirs for the next 12-24 months. I still am on a monthly price plan, but I can leave tomorrow if I want to. I went to a local Cingular store and they had the Nokia 6010 for about 60 bucks. It was $40 with a 12 month contract and $20 with a 24 month. I decided it wasn't worth selling your soul for a few bucks and paid the $60. The 6010 happens to be a really good no-frills phone. A lot of people regard it as the "King of RF," and I do not ever recall it dropping a call on me, even dropping to no bars.

    About the minimum you can get into a Cingular plan with is the $40 (+taxes, fees, and that crap) Nation 450. That gives you 450 anytime minutes, long distance includes and 5000 minutes of nights & weekend. I think the standard prepaid plans through them, like you said, are $1 a day for every day you use the phone, and 10 cents a minute. Or you can pay like a quarter a minute with no daily charge. Again, you really have nothing to lose by trying the Nation Plan if you paid the no-contract price for the phone. Might be worth a try. They do not show the no-contract price online, I had to go to a local store to find out they offered it.

  5. #5
    That darn Yankee TexasGuy's Avatar
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    Wow - they get their 40 bucks one way or the other don't they?
    Life is about hanging onto what you think is important and finding out what really is important.
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    Senior Member va_cyclist's Avatar
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    I've been using Virgin mobile's pay-as-you-go for a couple of years. For very light users like me it's fine. They use Sprint's network, so the coverage is good, and it's not expensive (something like $15 every 3 months). The only negative is their annoying teen-focused marketing, but I only see that when I visit the website, which is like maybe twice a year. Otherwise no issues at all with the service.

  7. #7
    That darn Yankee TexasGuy's Avatar
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    How much do you end up paying a month then, counting all fees?
    Life is about hanging onto what you think is important and finding out what really is important.
    "Stop Ruining my joke!", "No, a joke implies humor attached at no additional cost"
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  8. #8
    Footballus vita est iamlucky13's Avatar
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    01GTB, thanks for the rating on the Nokia 6010. T-mobile offers the same phone, so it is one of my options. Are you saying that you have the 450 minute plan, but without a contract? With as many friends and family as I have using Cingular, that would almost be worth it, except I couldn't come close to using 450 minutes a month (+N&W). If they offered a $30 / 200 minute plan like Sprint and T-mobile, I'd be interested.

    Here's something from the T-mobile terms of service I wasn't quite expecting. They charge minutes for voicemail. Not only that, but they charge it as a call to the phone, plus another call for the forward to voicemail, so it counts twice (essentially a 3-way call). I'm sure they probably also charge to access voicemail. Everybody gets you in the end, I guess.

    Quote Originally Posted by T-mobile TOS
    Certain types of calls or features involve multiple calls and you will be separately charged for each call. These include forwarded calls (incoming to your phone and outbound to the forwarded number), call waiting or hold, conference calls and unanswered incoming calls that are forwarded to your voicemail.
    "The internet is a place where absolutely nothing happens. You need to take advantage of that." ~ Strong Bad

  9. #9
    That darn Yankee TexasGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iamlucky13
    l). I'm sure they probably also charge to access voicemail. Everybody gets you in the end, I guess.
    Originally Posted by T-mobile TOS
    lmao - nice
    Life is about hanging onto what you think is important and finding out what really is important.
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  10. #10
    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    yep, that's the pain of pay-as-you-go. I jsut got the $40/mo plan from T-mobile....last month through amazon.com, you got a razr v3 for free with a one year contract.

    That's a phone that sells for the 280-ish range...so selling my soul for a year wasn't too bad, since 280 is more than half of one of my paychecks.
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  11. #11
    That darn Yankee TexasGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by catatonic
    yep, that's the pain of pay-as-you-go. I jsut got the $40/mo plan from T-mobile....last month through amazon.com, you got a razr v3 for free with a one year contract.

    That's a phone that sells for the 280-ish range...so selling my soul for a year wasn't too bad, since 280 is more than half of one of my paychecks.


    I would comment more, but it might accidentally get taken the wrong way.
    Life is about hanging onto what you think is important and finding out what really is important.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by iamlucky13
    01GTB, thanks for the rating on the Nokia 6010. T-mobile offers the same phone, so it is one of my options. Are you saying that you have the 450 minute plan, but without a contract? With as many friends and family as I have using Cingular, that would almost be worth it, except I couldn't come close to using 450 minutes a month (+N&W). If they offered a $30 / 200 minute plan like Sprint and T-mobile, I'd be interested.
    Right, you pay by the month, but you are not bound to any agreement beyond that month. You can change it, cancel it, tell them to shove it, whatever. The phone is yours, you paid the no contract price. They do not have to have you for x amount of months to recover the discount they gave you on it.

    Another thing, all Cingular to Cingular minutes are included too. That will just add to your unused anytime minutes They used to offer quite a few more plans, some starting at $20 for a regional. I don't even see a regional plan anymore. But that doesn't mean they are not there. You may just have to go to a local store to find all the plans they offer. Basically, you can have any plan they offer. But if your phone was bought outright at the no-contract price, you are not bound by anything. If they do not show the no contract price, do not hesitate to ask about it. My local stores show all three prices. On mine, they looked at me like I was stupid for not signing a 24 month contract to save 40 bucks. They are paid to give those stupid looks I looked at it as the bargain of the century.


    Edit: It looks like the regional plans are gone. People that had them already have, or will be, moved into a national plan. Looks like the Nation 450 is the lowest priced thing they have right now. I'm like you, most of the time I could do just fine with 200 minutes a month and maybe 1000 n&w. Seems like every company out there wants a certain dollar figure. When you order a pizza, they want to get that 20 bucks out of you whether you order one pizza or three .
    Last edited by 01GTB; 10-18-05 at 01:11 PM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member va_cyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TexasGuy
    How much do you end up paying a month then, counting all fees?
    Virgin Mobile is $15.75 every 90 days. That's $5.25/month. That covers everything. There are no other recurring fees. There was a one-time activation fee, I forget how much, maybe $20 or $25, and the phone itself cost around $50, but you could probably get one cheaper than that. Talktime costs 25 per minute for the first 10 minutes you talk in a day, then 10 per minute after that. Your balance rolls over from month to month. If you burn up your balance, you can add more at any time.

  14. #14
    That darn Yankee TexasGuy's Avatar
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    Hmmm interesting. Thats almost half decent, because I currently do not have any need what so ever for a cell phone - however for that emergency contact - it would definitely be nice. Ill have to see if i can find a dealer locally that offers that.
    Life is about hanging onto what you think is important and finding out what really is important.
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  15. #15
    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    You may wnat to read this: http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?s...id=187&tid=155

    Basically it looks like some of these pay-as-you-go services are going to have to shut down due to patent infringment.
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  16. #16
    Footballus vita est iamlucky13's Avatar
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    I just saw it. As far as I can tell, it only applies to Cingular and Sprint, who manage their customer relations for pay-as-you-go through BCGI. I'm still trying to figure out if it applies to T-mobile, but their website appears to have single-handedly accepted the task of making FEMA look speedy. It's been trying to load the index page for 10 minutes. I was honestly all set to buy a phone and pre-paid minutes, but it might have to wait.
    "The internet is a place where absolutely nothing happens. You need to take advantage of that." ~ Strong Bad

  17. #17
    That darn Yankee TexasGuy's Avatar
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    That sucks big time. The patent should be revoked if onlyone person can provide it.
    Why is it that when there are 1700 different ****ing operating systems and only one of them is better and thus more popular does somebody sue microsoft for monopoly
    but ****ing phone companies can do crap like this such that only ONE person can ever provide a service.
    Life is about hanging onto what you think is important and finding out what really is important.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member va_cyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TexasGuy
    Hmmm interesting. Thats almost half decent, because I currently do not have any need what so ever for a cell phone - however for that emergency contact - it would definitely be nice. Ill have to see if i can find a dealer locally that offers that.
    Virgin doesn't have any dealer outlets -- they sell their phones online (www.virginmobile.com) and in Target stores. You can also buy stored-value cards in Target. I bought the phone at target, went on the Virgin website to activate it, and was up and running in about 10 minutes.

  19. #19
    That darn Yankee TexasGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by va_cyclist
    Virgin doesn't have any dealer outlets -- they sell their phones online (www.virginmobile.com) and in Target stores. You can also buy stored-value cards in Target. I bought the phone at target, went on the Virgin website to activate it, and was up and running in about 10 minutes.
    Any word on whether Virgin is going to be effected by the new ruling - or are we going to just have to wait a few months to see what is shaken down?
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  20. #20
    Senior Member va_cyclist's Avatar
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    no idea

  21. #21
    Footballus vita est iamlucky13's Avatar
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    According to what I've read this only affects customers of BCGI (Cingular and Sprint/Nextel), and only their TDMA phones, which Cingular is phasing out anyway. I think this does include Virgin Mobile, because they rely on Sprint for all of their service. They don't own the actual towers. I think you'll just have to wait a few months and see what shakes down, and don't overstock up on minutes in the meantime. With Cingular and Sprint (and all their legal resources) both on the receiving end of this, considerations of the number of customers affected, and the marginal distinctions from prior technology involved in the patent, this stands a pretty good chance of being overturned.
    "The internet is a place where absolutely nothing happens. You need to take advantage of that." ~ Strong Bad

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