Monday, December 22, 2008

Pocket Intros New Phones in San Antonio & Northeast

Looks like Pocket's expansion into a few cities in the Northeast is off to a good start. Funny how good ideas that have proven themselves get funding when they want to expeand, even when that expansion is in a totally different area, using AWS spectrum intead of PCS. Granted, AWS limits phone selection, but I'm sure people with a new, unlimited, inexpensive option for cellular service won't mind. Oh, and to keep costs low, Pocket uses ultracheap notification to deliver bill notifications: text messaging. Who knew?

Over the past few days, Pocket has added a TON to their phone lineup, for a total of five AWS phones and fifteen phones that'll work on Pcoket's PCS-powered Texas network. The new ones, most of which have been seen on CricKet, MetroPCS or even Sprint, are below (prices after rebates):

Kyocera S2410 ($99) - AWS Bluetooth external-display flip (so far exclusive to Pocket)
UTStarCom 7126 ($99) - AWS, Northeast only, Bluetooth flip (different indicator layout than CricKet)
Kyocera S4000 Mako ($119) - AWS, Northeast only, Bluetooth VGA-camera dual-color-screen flip
Kyocera E1100 Neo ($129) - AWS, NE only, Bluetooth 1.3MP-camera flip
Motorola Razr v3s ($199) - AWS, NE only, Motorola v3a workalike
Samsung R500 ($199) - Previously seen on Alltel and CricKet, 1.3MP Bluetooth MP3 external-screen flip
ZTE C88 ($119) - Bluetooth VGA-camera external-screen flip (so far exclusive to Pocket)
LG 260 ($199) - Better known as the Rumor (Sprint) or Scoop (Alltel), 1.3MP Bluetooth MP3 messaging phone
LG 5400a ($69) - Old phone but decent, color dual-screen flip

Holy new phone launches Batman!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

MetroPCS Messager and MyShot Discounts

If you're planning on buying a MetroPCS phone before January 10th, take a serious look at the Samsung MyShot and/or the Messager. The reason: you get cash back for buying. If you buy one phone, you get a $25 Visa gift card back. Two or three phones net you a $50 gift card. Four phones get you a free fifth phone, after a mail-in rebate. The MyShot and Messager are higher on the price scale, at $139 and $199, respectively, however if you want to outfit a family with the phones, the end price of $111 or $159 sounds a bit more attractive...

Smart PCS: Unlimited In Georgia

On the heels of CricKet's acquisition of Georgia telco Hargray's wireless assets, there's a new unlimited player on the field in the form of Smart PCS. Currently, coverage is limited to a small area around Dalton and Chatsworth, however expansion to the Cleveland area will happen soon enough.

The phone selection ranges from a $29.99 Nokia 6015i (great reception for people who just use their phone for talking and a little bit of texting) to the Razr v3c ($160), Krzr k1m ($180) and the Rokr z6m ($280). Prices are after mail-in or instant rebates, by the way.

But wait...Smart PCS is also currently selling a smartphone: the HTC 6800 aka Titan aka Sprint Mogul, the same phone that I'm using on my current Sprint contract (I need unlimited data, and I need it cross-country, hence my choice of cellular service). The price: $345, not bad for a non-contract PDA phone (contract pricing from other carriers run around $300). Granted, the 6800 is now a generation behind the curve, with the new HTC Touch Pro now available on Sprint, Verizon and Alltel. but still, quite impressive for an unlimited carrier, seeing as how on most similar providers you have to hack and mod your way to a smartphone on their networks.

The plan structure is similar to that of Pocket or MetroPCS:
$25 - Local calling and caller ID (long distance $5/month extra, text messaging at an extra cost)
$35 - $25 plus long distance, texting, web, voicemail, all plan upgrades available ($25 has limited upgrade potential)
$45 - $35 plus picture messaging/MMS, call waiting, 3-way calling, text messaging to Mexico
$55 - $45 plus unlimited directory assistance (otherwise $1.25 per call), call forwarding, extended coverage area (?)

Family plans are even better: $30 per line for two or three lines, $25 per line for four lines. The family plan includes unlimited local, long distance and text messaging, plus a free month of service if you sign up before the end of the year. Sounds a lot like MetroPCS's offering, except better.

Phone insurance is $5.99 per month, on the high end of things but still reasonable.

Overall, coverage is limited right now, but it's great to see another unlimited provider popping up in the U.S. Plus, their website is easy to navigate and their phone selection is solid and varied. Seems like a win to me.

If you have had any experience with this company, post in the comments. Inquiring minds want to know...

MetroPCS Gets A Byline

PhoneScoop has caught wind of a Samsung announcement of a new phone for MetroPCS: the r310 Byline. The best way to describe this phone is as a ChatLink-enabled, dual-color-display clamshell version of the r210 Spex. As such, I'm guessing the price will be in the $100 range. So if you don't want a camera in your phone, but you do want a decent-quality flip, this phone is MetroPCS's answer to your desires.

UPDATE: As I predicted, the Byline is now available, at $99.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Flash Pocket Phones

If you want a way to get a cell phone from another carrier on to Pocket Communications, here's an example of a discussion on how:


There are plenty more, just look for 'em. It's typical of small, unlimited-use carriers to do this (MetroPCS has a similar program in fact). So if you want to hold onto your smartphone and switch to Pocket Communications, you can do so, and have been able to do so for quite some time.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

CricKet, MetroPCS Drop Phone Prices

As a quick rundown, Cricket now has two $29.99 phones, the EZ and the Motorola v265 refurb. MetroPCS has dropped the price on the Motorola v3s to $179, the z6m to $249, the Samsung Spex to $79 and maybe a few other phones by $10-$20 though I can't be sure which ones :/. Regardless, cheaper phones = good thing. Though I'd wait until tomorrow to buy; there might be some crazy sale or something, seeing as how it's the biggest shopping day of the year.

ZebraGSM: Unlimited GSM for Cheap

UPDATE: ZebraGSM looks to be a scam. Ech.

As spotted by The Sweeper over on the Go4Prepaid forums, it looks as though we have another MVNO that's both unlimited and GSM. This time the name is ZebraGSM, and the prices are good enough that the outfit should be out of business in about six months...

The plans are good though, so you may want to check them out if you're in ZebraGSM's signup-for-service area, which includes 25 states on teh east and west coasts...

$39.99 - Unlimited local/long distance/calling features (Caller ID, call waiting, 3-way calling, etc.)
$49.99 - $39.99 plan plus unlimited text
$59.99 - $49.99 plan plus unlimited MMS
$69.99 - $59.99 plan plus unlimited web

Family plans are $20 per month extra per line, no matter what plan you add them to.

Phone selection is pretty good, though prices are nowhere to be found. This is because, like many such providers, ZebraGSM farms out sales to dealers. But here's the list (all made by Motorola, interestingly):

SIM-only (good if you have an unlocked 850/1900-capable GSM phone you want to use on the service)
c168i (okay basic phone)
w215 (basic phone with camera, haven't seen before)
v220 (camera flip phone)
L6i (SLVR but cheaper)
Rokr e1 (nothing to see here, move along...no, seriously0
Razr v3 (party like it's 2005)
Rizr z3 (the Razr, spiffed up slider-style0

Note: "unlimited" isn't exactly unlimited here, but for most purposes you're okay here. Minute usage is capped at 10,000 per month, Texts are capped at 30,000 per month, and data is (you guessed it) 5GB per month. Unless you're using your phone as a modem, you should be good to go. Until these guys go out of business, that is...

Still, really good plans while they last. Looks like they're using AT&T's network by the way, so coverage should be good.

Motorola intros VE240, Hint QA30 Coming Soon

In an interesting turn of events, Cricket and MetroPCS have launched a Motorola phone, without a camera, with heavy-duty music playback abilities, at a very competitive price.

By heavy-duty music playback abilities I mean that the Motorola VE240 has dedicated music keyw...and a microSD slot. The descriptiion says that it only supports regular-capacity cards (up to 4GB, though 4GB regular cards are hard to come by), but I've seen a phone or two that has suppored MicroSDHC cards despite ostansibly lacking such support...so the VE240 may also exhibit such behavior. It even supports Stereo Bluetooth, so you can rock out without being tethered to this petite bar phone.

By "very competitive" I mean that this camera-less, small--screen handset is available for $99 on MetroPCS and $119 on Cricket...if you buy bricks-and-mortar. If you go online to grab the VE240, CricKet will let you have it for a clinically insane $49.99. Then again, CricKet tends to price their phones at a loss if they're trying to clear out old models...the dual-band EZ and Motorola v265 are both $30 phones if purchased online.

My verdict? Check this phone out if you don't mind not having a camera built in. If you were going to get a low-end cricKet or metroPCS phone, and were looking for a basic MP3 player, this is the model for you...

Also, it sounds as though the Motorola Hint, a squarish bar phone with a slide-out keyboard, may be coming to Cricket/MetroPCS soon as well...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

CricKet Expands Coverage, Allows Unlimited Roaming, Slashes Phone Prices

First off, CricKet is now in Madison/Milwaukee, WI. Second, they're in the Savannah, GA area...sounds like the area they bought from Hargray awhile back.

The second development coverage-wise: they've contracted with a bevy of other unlimited carriers (MetroPCS...and apparently Pocket...included) to provide unlimited-use roaming coverage in a ton of markets. The usage is voice-only, and you can't buy a CricKet phone and activate it in one of the roaming areas, but it's a nice bonus for areas in whihc Cricket has less than stellar coverage (ahem, Fredericksburg, TX).

Note that CricKet's ew home area coverage is available for PayGO (overpriced prepaid) customers, but the extended-area unlimited coverage is not. 

Also note that MetroPCS did this earlier, and that one of CricKet's unlimited-minutes (no texting or data) roaming partners is in fact MetroPCS, thanks to the agreement they made recently.

If you're wondering about what the new roaming policies can do for you, check CricKet's new coverage maps out here. Hopefully i'll be able to post back with details on exactly who is provising CricKet with "PEC" (Premium extended Coverage), so you know exactly which fourteen coverage maps you should look at to get a better idea of where you'll be having service now.

UPDATE 1: I've narrowed down the unlimited provider in Kansas to NexTech Wireless. Also, I'm 99.9% sure that Pocket is a roaming partner. With metroPCS, we're up to three out of the fourteen roaming partners present and accounted for. If you have any ideas as to the other eleven, post a comment!

Monday, November 10, 2008

MetroPCS Revamps TravelTalk, Allows For Free CricKet Roaming

MetroPCS is putting their agreement with CricKet into effect...now. You still can't call MetroPCS's coverage monolithic by any stretch, but they now have "300 cities" covered either directly or via free roaming on CricKet's network. The downside: you need a $45 or $50 per month plan to take advantage of this additional roaming, and the only things you'll be able to do are talk and text...but they'll both be unlimited. Also, if you're in Texas, between MetroPCS and CricKet a large portion of the state is covered, albeit with a lot of AWS towers so make sure you have a newer, AWS-equipped phone or you won't get the best coverage.

Speaking of unlimited text, if you have unlimited text messaging on your metroPCS plan within their (and now CricKet's) coverage areas, ou can now send and receive an unlimited number of text messages, even while roaming, at no additional charge. Voice minutes are still either 49 or 79 cents each, however, and rome roaming carriers don't support text messaging, though that number is decreasing to near nil now.

The limited nature of the CricKet roaming agreement is disappointing, but unlimited voice and text in an expanded area, mated with unlimited text messaging practically everywhere, is a very, very nice upgrade for MetroPCS.

Pocket Intros News Website, Northeast Coverage

A few days ago, Pocket Communications introduced a new website. The site spreads information out somewhat versus the older layout, however it does look nice and modern.

More importantly, the site announces a new service area: the Northeast. Pocket has had spectrum in that area for awhile, and is now building a network in the area, most likely the same CDMA 1x system used in Texas.

Phone pricing and selection for this new market is uncertain as of yet, but plan information is already available. You get the same plans as are available in Texas, but at a $5 per month premium, which is still a low price compared with other unlimited providers for similar service.

One other thing: the website redesign slimmed down Pocket's pone lineup. Here are the models that remain:

Kyocera M1000 - $199 (minus a $20 mail-in rebate)
Kyocera E2000 - $199 (minus a $50 mail-in rebate)
Kyocera K342 - $139 (minus a $40 mail-in rebate)
Kyocera K132 - $49 (including a $30 "internet discount)
Motorola Rokr z6m - $299
Moto Razr v3a - $169
Moto w385 - $149
Moto e815 - $119
UTStarCom 8935 - $119

It looks like Pocket may soon be selling phones online (but not yet), based on the Kyocera K132's "internet discount". Or it could be "instant discount" and not matter...

Out of all of these phones, the Kyocera E2000 and the Motorola e815 seem to be the best deals right now. If you want more features in a newer phone, pick the Kyocera. If you want a more solid handset at a lower price, the Motorola e815 is a great choice.

Boost To Offer Unlimited Nationwide iDEN Service

Looks like the economy has gone south, and as such Sprint can't find anyone to buy their iDEN Nextel unit. So they've decided to overload the network...erm...offer unlimited iDEN-powered service nationwide in the near future. No idea as to the price yet, other than analysts' predictions of $60-with-voice-and-text. I'm thinking more expensive, along the lines of Virgin mobile, with voice, maybe text and walkie talkie...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

MetroPCS Intros Screen-It: Caller ID With Name

On cell phones, Caller ID shows the phone number on an incoming call. If a person is in your address book, you get their name. Otherwise, it's just a number.

Contrast this to landlines, which have included name information on caller ID for a long time now.

MetroPCS is bringing landline-style caller ID with name to your cell phone. Pretty darned cool. The price is reminiscent of landline providers' offerings as well: $2 extra on $35-$45 plans, free on the top-end $50 plan.

So if you miss having a person's name show up on caller ID, you can now get the feature on an unlimited cellular plan. Very cool, though the extra charge for the feature reminds me of AT&T, Verizon etc., not a good thing.

Monday, October 20, 2008

CricKet PayGO UTStarCom 7126 Review...Coming Soon!

So what do I do with the ad money from this site? Buy phones with it, of course! The weekend before last, while in Texas, I picked one up for $60ish plus tax: the UTStarCom 7126 on CricKet's PayGO service. I'll post a review sooner or later...as an overview, the phone is okay for a basic unit, however the network quality varies drastically depending on where you are, and the plans are very, very expensive if you use your phone at all, at least if you want anything more than local calling.

More info coming soon! I thought about getting the CricKet (CompCal) EZ, as that phone was $30 or $40 at the Wal-Mart where I bought the UTStarCom flip. However I've heard bad things about that phone, and wanted something that actually had a vibrate motor and a normal power connector.

At any rate, my eview for the $60 handset will be posted here.

Nokia 1606 on CricKet, MetroPCS

What's tri-band, CDMA and thoroughly average for a basic phone in features but worth paying a premium for? The Nokia 1606 of course. Available now from MetroPCS and CricKet, the 1606 doesn't have any special features like Bluetooth or an MP3 player. It does have a web browser though, and everyone knows that Nokia builds solid phones. It also has an external caller ID screen, mounted vertically a la some of Kyocera's products...which, of course, is better than having no external display, or just a bunch of indicators like the UTStarCom 7126.

The price? $119 on MetroPCS, $129 with $20 off online for CricKet. Expensive for a basic phone on those carriers, but it's a hgh-quality basic phone, so it may well be worth buying.

CricKet Intros JetSet

Sorry guys...I'm not dead though...hence the fllowing few posts:

CricKet has introduced the tri-band Samsung JetSet R550. It's a quite high-end phone, sporting stereo Bluetooth, a 2-megapixel camera (iPhone-resolution, mind you) and an mp3 player (to go along with the stereo Bluetooth). It can even record video. On the other hand, it says MicroSD is limited to 1GB cards (probably not true...I've put my 6GB card in comparable phone and had it work), there's a 2.5mm headset jack instead of 3.5mm (but it is a standard headset jack). But those are all the nits I can pick. The phone also has EvDO (most likely Rev. 0), and it may actually be the only tri-band phone to support the tech on CricKet (unsure about the R430 Messager). As icing on the cake, while the external display is typically small, both displays are color, and the internal screen is quite large, at 2.1" diagonally and 240x320 resolution-wise (on par with choose-your-high-end-regular-phone end even most Windows Mobile smartphones).

The price? $200, or $180 online, placing it in the same bracket as the "Razr Lite" v3s...which includes a much lower-end feature set in the same of shaving off only a tenth of an inch or two (the JetSet is reasonably thin, at 0.69"). The verdict: the JetSet is a very nice phone; if you want a full keyboard, get the Messager, if not, get this unit, if you're looking in the price range for a CricKet phone.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

MetroPCS Intros a ZTE Bar Phone

What's relatively thin, purple, $129 and new to MetroPCS? The ZTE C78 bar phone, of course. Yes, it's yet another phone from the Chinese company, but if you're buying on specs the phone's stereo Bluetooth with file transfer capability and ChatLINK pseudo-Push-To-Talk don't seem to disappoint. Until you find out that the phone looks like it doesn't include a memory card slot. Let's hope this description is a mistake on the part of MetroPCS's web team, but if it isn't, there is still 60MB of on-board memory to put your stuff. Still, with "real" music phones including 1GB or more of internal memory, or MicroSD expansion, 60MB is rather patheic. Then again, that's a decent amount for a phone that costs a mere $129 unsubsidized.

CricKet Intros Pay-by-Day "PAYGo" Service...in some places

The premise is simple, and can be seen on other providers, just not unlimited ones generally spaking: pay $X per day for services on days you use your phone. CricKet has now entered the field...and it looks very profitable for them. Available right now in select markets, their PAYGo plan is as follows, rate-wise, per-day, for unlimited features:

  1. $1: Local calling and calling features (Voicemail, Caller ID, Call Waiting)
  2. $2: $1 plan plus text\picture messaging
  3. $3: $2 plan plus international texting, long distance, mobile web, directory assistance

None of these plans are a particularly good deal (except maybe the $1 plan) if you use your phone most of, or all of, the month, however if you don't use your phone all the time, but ue it a lot on days when you do use the service, these plans are just the ticket.

Speaking of "select areas", looks like CricKet is adding a few more coverage areas soon. In addition to their new St. Louis and Las Vegas markets, Savannah, GA and Milwaukee, WI are in the works.

Pocket Lowers Phone Pricing

Looks like Pocket did an update to their website today: several of their phones are now a bit less expensive:
  • Audiovox 8615 - $59 ($10 discount)
  • Motorola Razr v3a - $169 ($30 discount)
  • Motorola Rokr z6m - $289 ($10 discount)
  • Motorola Razr v3m - $199 ($60 discount)
  • Motorola w315 - $69 ($30 discount)
  • Motorola w385 - $149 ($30 discount)
  • Kyocera KX16 Candid - $79 ($20 discount)
  • Kyocera Strobe - $149 ($30 discount)
  • LG 245 - $99 ($20 discount)
In short, a lot of Pocket's phones just got a bit more affordable. Especially the Razr v3m.

Monday, September 29, 2008

MetroPCS, CricKet Kiss, Make Up

Looks like Leap Wireless (aka CricKet) and MetroPCS have now put aside their litigious differences, and have agreed to swap spectrum and slash roaming fees. This is a nice development since, due to the nature of their customer base and plan structure, the two companies just can't get good roaming rates from the "big boys". Looks like the companies won't merge...yet...but they have realized that they're similar companies with similar phones, similar plans, similar services and generally non-overlapping coverage area, and have agreed to act as such. The spectrum swap (10 MHz) will include areas at and around San Diego\Fresno, Seattle, Washington\Oregon, DFW, Shreveport and Lakeland, FL. No idea of how much money changed hands, but no doubt it's good for the unlimited cellular space. Now the unlimited carriers are up to...oh...2000 levels for coverage, compared with the national carriers.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pocket Intros Motorola v265, May Come Out With More Soon

One phone that didn't come up on my radar earlier: the Motorola v265. It is now on Pocket's website for a mere $80. It has a camera and that's about it, and technically it's the small predecessor to the Motorola v323i that has been available on Pocket for quite some time now. But it's always nice to have yet another inexpensive, relatively full-featured, phone available to buy.

It also looks as though the Kyocera S4000 will make a landing on Pocket in the relatively near future, according to the Pocket media download page. The closest analog is a feature-slimmed Sanyo Katana, or a more squarish Motorola v3a with a lower-resolution screen. My price prediction: $150ish.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Verizon Goes Contract-Free...if You're Willing To Go Subsidy-Free

It's a simple concept: let the subscriber pay for the phone, then offer them your services without a contract. Yet major carriers have been slow to pick up on the idea...until recently.

Verizon is the latest (after T-Mobile's well-publicized FlexPay option and AT&T much less-publicized SIM-only service...which I'm still unsure exists) of big-time carriers to offer a contract-free option for their service. You do have to buy or bring your own phone (prices start at $80 for a regular phone and...amazingly enough...$100 for a smartphone) however there's no two-year agreement or early ermination fee if you don't want to stick around that long. It looks as though all plans are still available; the only penalty for no contract (similar to signing a 1-year contract) is the phone pricing...

As an example of pricing, you can get the second-gen LG Chocolate on Verizon for free, the third-gen model for $130, the LG Dare for $200 and the Palm Centro for $100. Prices for a one-year contract are respectively $120, $200, $270 and $170. With no contract, you're in for a shock...the prices of those four models (in the same order) skyrocket to $270, $300, $410 and $350. One one hand, some phones just don't have a ton of price differential ($170 for the Chocolate 3 between a two-year contract and no contract) but others have a larger difference in cost than the early termination fee for a two-year contract. The Palm Centro, Chocolate 2 and LG Date come to mind. On the other hand (said in a good "Fiddler on the Roof" accent) you can get a double handful of phones for less than the two-year ETF, and some o fthem aren't even that wimpy. Of corse, if you really want something inexpensive, you may be able to just grab a phone from Wal-Mart that uses Verizons INPulse brand, then bring it to Verizon's postpaid ervice to activate. Or ask around for someone's old Verizon phone that they discarded when switching to that Apple device whose name I need not mention here.

And yes, the plans available include Verizon's unlimited option, so there's some relevance between this announcement and this blog.

My take: it's good. The high phone prices are expected, and it's no terrible loss to Verizon to give customers another option for using their service, but the moment of this move isn't to be discounted. Note to AT&T and Sprint: when will y'all follow?

Friday, September 12, 2008

CricKet offers prepaid broadband...wirelessly...

CricKet is introducing prepaid mobile broadband effective very, very soon. Granted, Millenicom has had this option for a long time on Sprint's nationwide network...and they're now offering a $55-a-month option that's totally prepaid like CricKet (startup cost is a whopping $343)...but CricKet is much more well-known and accessible. $40 gets you a month of service, $60 plus a $25 activation fee gets you a USB tri-band broadband card. A Kyocera PC card (dual-band) is free. The service is focused on CricKet's low-income audience, who would use the service (which has a 5GB soft cap) along with a CricKet cell phone instead of DSL or cable. Personally, I'm not sure how well this would be an alternative to terrestrial broadband; DSL is cheaper and faster, while cable is just plain faster. But for places where DSL or cable (or both) won't go, or for people who want internet on their laptops (or sub-$500 netbooks) CricKet is a viable option for those in its coverage area.

UPDATE: According to the info copied from PC Magazine in this post CricKet's mobile broadband is unlimited except for VoIP (because CricKet makes their money on such things) and servers. Of course, "server" could mean any remotely-initiated upload of data such as remote desktop apps and most likely P2P. Also, CricKet's own website (at least for now) says in the plan details that, among other things, performance may be degraded if you transfer more than 5GB in any given month. So you can use this modem as a single-computer DSL-replacement (speeds are comparable to a low-tier package I suppose) but not to replace phone service (CricKet sells phones for that) and not to replace TV (ten hours of programming in a month would easily put you over the limit...heck, six hours of programming would do it).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pocket Intros Kyocera E2000 - Just Like I Said

Granted, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that, when a phone shows up on one part of Pocket's website, it'll soon show up on the other, but the Kyocera E2000 was particularly quick in terms of going from one part to the other, especially in light of another phone being released so soon before.

I have to commend Pocket here; the E2000 is a modern phone that was just introduced recently, and it's chock full of features. It has everything from a music player to a relatively high-res camera to a thin footprint. The price? $229, but there's a $50 mail-in rebate from Kyocera that's valid until November 30th. So the price, accounting for tax on the extra $50, winds up a little north of $180, right in line with what MetroPCS charged for the handset. They've since moved on to a different lineup, but only because the E2000 isn't AWS spectrum capable, a spec that Pocket doesn't have to follow.

Next up? Either the Motorola Razr2 v9m or, maybe, the old Audiovox 8915...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

What's In The Pocket Pipe

Looks like Pocket may come out with a few new phones in the next few months, according to their media download page, which has proved to be correct so far...

First, I neglected to mention that Pocket is already otut of stock, permanently, of the Kyocera KX18 slider phones. 'Twas a quick run, probably because Pocket just got a few dozen phones at a nice discount from, say, someone who grabbed the phones when their original carrier, Amp'd, went under last year.

Second, the list of phones to come:
  1. Kyocera E2000 Mako - MetroPCS already had this phone, and it has plenty of features in a slim form factor. Basically it's a Razr-eque phone with Razr v3m-class features, for a price around $200. Not bad, though by now you know my opinon about Kyocrapas, right?
  2. Motorola Razr2 v9m - This is the phone to look forward to; from what I can see it's the highest-end non-smartphone available on the amrket right now, including everything from dual huge screens to music playback to video recording. Of course, this will make it a $400 phone, but it's still quite a catch, but not an unheard-of one, for Pocket.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pocket Intros UTStarCom 8935 aka Mini

My predictions were correct: Pocket today introduced the UTStarCom 8935, also known as the Mini on CricKet. That carrier no longer has the phone (probably due to their push for AWD-compatible handsets, a problem that Pocket doensn't have) but that doesn't mean the unit is full-featured enough. Like Vigin Mobile's Arc and CricKet's Mini, Pocket's 8935 has a camera, Bluetooth and a color external display. Data is limited to 1x only, but Pocket doesn't currently have an EvDO network anyway, last time I checked. The price? $129, following the trand of Pocket selling their phones for a little more than their competition but handing out service for a good bit less.

Personally, I'd go for a refurbished Razr v3a, but if you're in the market for something with less of a width-and-length footprint, this fits the bill with roughly the same number of usable features, except for the camera; the v3a's camera is 4x the resolution of the UTStarCom's.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pocket Offers Refurb Razr for Cheap

Looks like Pocket Communications has a few Razrs lying around. They're selling refurbished v3c's for $119 on their website. Granted, they're older phones, don't have an mp3 player built in and are a bit larger than, say, the v3m or the v3a in terms of thickness. But the camera is 1.3 megapixels, EvDO data is available and the price isn't bad at all.

CricKet Intros Video Service for $5

According to a quick article by WirelessWeek it looks like you can now view videos on your CricKet phone. A preselected bunch of music videos and short clips, that is. It's not mobile TV like Sprint has on their contract offerings, but it's something. The downside? $5 a month is the cost. It might be a nice value-add for some people, and certainly adds to CricKet's bottom line, but I like my phone company to serve as a communication tool, not provide random videos to me for a monthly charge. Seriously, who wants to spend $5 per month to get a limited library of video clips delivered to their phone's two-or-less-inch screen? On the bright side, these videos are exempted from the $5-per-month CricKet data charge.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Nokia on CricKet\MetroPCS AWS? Maybe...

According to PhoneScoop there's a new phone from Nokia. Not only is it CDMA (something they haven't been doing so much of lately) but it's also AWS-compatible. The Nokia 1606, which seems dstined for CricKet and MetroPCS, isn't a terribly advanced phone; no camera, no Blueooth, no color external screen. However, it's built well, k=looks nice and has the Nokia logo on it, so it should sell well. Pricing will probably be in line with, or slightly below, the other entry-level AWS handsets on each carrier.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mean Lean Green Messaging Machine

Looks like CricKet is getting more variety than MetroPCS phone-wise; they just introduced the Samsung Messager phone in green, in addition to the already-available blue version. The phone is $200, $180 online. Of course, at this point the Kyocera Lingo (M1000) is getting phased out and as such is very inexpensive; after a $100 rebate and with an online purchase the phone is a mere $60. Not bad for a messaging phone on a non-contract unlimited carrier network, though unfortunately you get what you pay for with Kyocrapas.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

MetroPCS Updates and Giveaways

In the meanwhile, metroPCS is cooking up a thing or two...

First, they're giving away a $25 Shell gas card to anyone who buys a Samsung phone (including the MyShot and the new Messager) between the first and the 30th of this month. Or you might be one of the 48 people who gets a $2000 gas card ("one year's worth of gas") instead of a mere $25. Or, if you're really lucky, MetroPCS might give you a 2009 Toyota Yaris (but no gas; they figure it's fuel-efficient enough that you'll be happy with just the car). There's only one of the last price, but it sure is a nice prize.

Second, lately I've been putting in the zipcode of a normally-1900 MHz market and getting only 1700-MHz capable phones (34947...I have relatives there). This means one of two things: either MetroPCS is actively advancing their agenda of making all markets of theirs 1700-MHz capable on both a phone and service level in the near term (a good idea so all phones will have coverage network-wide), or they're running out of 1900 capacity in the market and have 1700 up to bleed off the overcapacity with these new phones. I'd tend to think it's the first of these two options; customers get confused when they see MetroPCS coverage on a map yet, after roaming not too far from home, find that their new non-AWS-capable phone won't work in the place they're going without charging a pretty penny for the service.

Third, on plans of $35 or more, calls to Puerto Rico are unlimited. Cool, though this doesn't apply to a ton of people.

Fourth, Loopt (the social network of sorts that's built around "where you at", first seen on Boost Mobile) is now available on MetroPCS. The coolest thing is that it's included on the $50 plan. Otherwise, it adds $4 to the $40 or $45 plans (hint: get the $50 plan if you want the $45 plan and Loopt). So you can now go Loopt-y with your friends on Sprint, Nextel, Boost Mobile and...with certain phones...Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. The "select phones" requirement also applies on MetroPCS; as of yet, only the Motorola Razr v3a and v3s, the Rokr z6m, the Samsung u520 and the r430 (MyShot) are compatible. Nothing yet about the Messager.

CricKet Has the Messenger, Too

Looks like CricKet has once again mirrored MetroPCS's 1700 MHz lineup when it comes to Samsung phones: the Messager r430 has showed up on their website in a blue hue (my monitor and colorblindness won't allow me to pass judgment on the dark hue of the MetroPCS Messager). The price? $200 minus a $20 discount if bought online. Plus, I'm pretty sure, that pesky $15 activation fee.

Friday, August 8, 2008

MetroPCS Intros Messager, CricKet Expands v3s Availability

Looks like MetroPCS has intro'd a messaging conscious phone for their new 1700MHz network. The aptly named Samsung Messager looks reminiscent of the Kyocera M1000 "Lingo"\"Wild Card" but offers a LOT more feature-wise at a similar price ($200).

The keyboard slides out (I prefer slide-out to clamshell-style, plus it's cheaper to have one screen than two, leaving more money for the manufacturer to put other features in) and the phone itsself is packed with features. 1.3 megapixel camera? Check. MP3 player with stereo Bluetooth and a MicroSD card slot? Check. All your other communication features (SMS, MMS, IM, e-mail)? Check.

It's a pity this phone isn't on more carries than just MetroPCS; it's like the LG Rumor, but higher-end and made by Samsung, which in my opinion makes slightly better phones than the company whose acronym stands for "Lucky Goldstar" (how's that for seedy-sounding Asian merchandise?)

On the CricKet front, the Motorola Razr v3s is now available everywhere, at $180-$200 depending on where "everywhere" happens to be ($180 appears to be web-only). Again, the v3s is merely a "Razr Lite" v3a (basically the CDMA analog to the original Cingular Razr) with the addition of AWS-band cellular service capability (for use in newer CricKet markets) and with a different finish (spun-metal versus matte). This is a nice bit of news to be sure, but MetroPCS has had the v3s available for longer than CricKet has, and currently CricKet's AWS-capable handsst lineup trails MetroPCS's by a good bit. The funny thing is that, up until the introduction of service into Las Vegas, this wouldn't have mattered to either company as each serves different areas. But now, with overlapping wireless footprints, the heat is on.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pocket Intros Motorola e815

At $149, the Motorola e815 s a bargain considering its features. Granted, it's an older phone, but it has great reception from what I've heard and its features are comparable to the Razr v3m's for $110 less. Bluetooth, high-speed data (irrelevant for Pocket at the moment but still a nice thing to have) and a 1.3 megapixel camera come to mind featur-wise. However you look at it, the e815 is a welcome addition to Pocket's portfolio of phones at a price that makes it an easy choice when confronted with Kyoceras and such in the same range.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Net10 Unlimits Service...both Talk and Text...for $79.98 a month!

It's nearly midnight (shoulda found this out earlier today but didn't) so I won't scream like a schoolgirl, but you can now get unlimited non-contract prepaid talk and text service on Net10 Wireless for $79.98 a month!

So as not to chew my cabbage twice (Andy Griffith Show anyone?) I'm posting more about this over on Go4Prepaid.net so take a look over there for more info.

This is...um...awesome. No contracts, roaming charges or surprise fees, the phones are cheap, the service price is reasonable...wow, just wow.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Want MetroPCS with your phone? MetroFlash it!

Have a supported phone more on that later)? Only want to talk and text (most flashing services like this only allow those two things, though more stuff might work on certain phones)? Want to talk and text on MetroPCS? Then swing by a MetroFlash-enabled retailer and turn your CDMA phone (if it's one of the supported models) into a MetroPCS handset. The cost? $30, plus, it seems, your first month of service.

So what are the phone models? See below...though keep in mind that MetroFlash won't work for you if you're in a MetroPCS AWS-only area like Philadelphia or Las Vegas...

Audiovox (CDM-)
8450
8615
8900
8910
8912
8915
8920
8940

...whether the Virgin Mobile Snapper (8915) or Flasher (8912) handsets are included here I'm not sure, but I'd expect not...

Kyocera
K132
K24 v1003
K323
K342
K404
K433
K483JLC
K493
K612b
KE413
KE424c
KE433c
KX1
KX13
KX16
KX160B
KX18 5DW
KX18 5DO
KX414
KX44
KX444
KX5
KX9c
KX9d
KX9d 125
KX9e

LG
5000
AX 355
AX 490
AX 830
AX/LX/UX 260
AX/UX 145
AX/UX 380
AX/UX 390
DM L200
LX 150
LX 160
LX 350
LX 5450
LX 550
LX 565
LX/VI 125
MM 535
PM 225
PM 325
vx1000
vx10000 (enV series I think)
vx3200
vx3280 (Tracfone?)
vx3300
vx3400
vx3450
vx4400
vx4500
vx4700
vx5200
vx5300
vx5400
vx6000
vx6100
vx6200
vx7000
vx8300
vx8350
vx8500 (Chocolate)
vx8550 (newer Chocolate)
vx8700
vx8800
vx9100
vx9400
vx9800 (LG V)
vx990 (enV)
VX/AX 4270
VX/AX 8600
VX/LS 5500

Motorola
c290
e815
e816 (Amp'd Hollywood)
ic402c (Sprint\Nextel Blend)
ic502 (Sprint\Nextel Buzz)
K1m (KRZR)
L7c (SLVR)
v262
v265
v276
v323i
v325i (Verizon v323i)
v3a (RAZR Lite)
v3c (RAZR)
v3c-2 (RAZR ???)
v3m (newest CDMA Razr)
v710
v9m (Razr2)
Ve (Razr Max)
w315
w385
z6m (Rokr\Rizr)
z6tv

...if you're noticing a pattern here, looks like the vast majority of Verizon phones can be moved over...

Pantech
DM-P100 (Disney Mobile)
PN-210
PN-215
PN-218
PN-300
PN-810

Samsung
SCH-
a310
a475
a530
a595
a605
a610
a630
a645
a650
a655
a670
a685
a725
a790
a815
a850
a870
a890
a895
a915
a930
a950
a970
a990
n330
r200
r400
r410
r500
r510
r610
u340
u340-1 (???)
u470
u510
u540
u620
u740
SPH-
a420
a503
a505
a513
a523
a560
a580
a620
a640
a660
a680
a740
a760
a800
a820
a840
a880
a900
a920
a960
i830 (Palm OS!)
m300
m500
m510
m520
m520-1 (Qwest?)
m620

...looks like you can switch over a lot of Sprint Alltel and US Cellular handsets, too...pretty good selection...

Sanyo
Katana DLX
M1
MM 7200
MM 7300
MM 7400
MM 7500
PM 8200
S1
SCP 200
SCP 2300
SCP 3400
SCP 3100
SCP 3200
SCP 4500
SCP 4900
SCP 4920
SCP 4930
SCP 5300
SCP 5500
SCP 5600
SCP 6550
SCP 6600
SCP 6650
SCP 6650q (Qwest?)
SCP 7000
SCP 8100
SCP 8300
SCP 8400

UTStarCom
CDM 7025
CDM 7025q (Qwest?)

No PDAs except the Samsung i830 (?) and very few Audiovox\UTStarCom models. But if you have a mainstream "just-a-phone" you should be good to go to flash your handset to MetoPCS with MetroFLASH. Grr, I don't like lots of caps in product names...

Friday, July 18, 2008

CricKet Intros Moto v3s

Looks like CricKet also has the Motorola v3s. They're currently only offering it in AWS-only markets (like Las Vegas, Oklahoma City and southern Texas) at a price of $200, $180 if you buy online. Its features mirror those of the dual-band v3a (available on regular-band markets for a mere $110 online, probably to clear out stock) though it has a different finish ("spun metal" versus matte). Keep in mind that this Razr's features mirror those of the original Cingular\T-Mobile Razr: no high-speed data, no music player, no high-res camera. In other words, this is lower-end than the original CDMA version of the Razr. Now if you're okay with all that, go ahead and hit the buy button; it's a better phone than the rest of CricKet's AWS lineup.

MetroPCS hits Philadelphia

From Trenton to Newark, from Norristown to Williamsdown, a big blue blanket is sweeping the countryside. It's the AWS-powered unlimited service of MetroPCS, which plans to expand coverage a good bit along the southern highways and to the northeast...well, just check out MetroPCS' coverage map here.

If you're in the area, listen to your local radio station. Seems like MetroPCS is running ads, doing sponsorships or something to that effect with a few stations and sports teams in the area. There's also something in there about the Wachovia Complex...

If you're wondering about phone choice, it's getting better but still isn't as good as the nine-phone selection in more typical (850/1900 MHz) areas. Here are your choices:

$100 - Samsung Spex (Bluetooth bar) or UTStarCom 7126M (Bluetooth flip)
$110 - Huawei M328 (Flip with Bluetooth...maybe?)
$150 - Samsung MyShot (Bluetooth flip cameraphone)
$170 - ZTE C79 (1.3 megapixel music-enabled stereo Bluetooth flip)
$180 - Motorola v3s (Razr Lite, comes w\accessory pack)

For more info, swing by MetroPCS' website. The Philly splash is on their front page.

MetroPCS Intros Motorola v3s, Huawei M328, ZTE C79

The other carrier that's big in the news on the unlimited scene? MetroPCS; they've introduced a few phones, given people a way to bring their own phones to the MetroPCS party, and brought service to yet another area...

First, the new phones:

Huawei M328 - This $109 upgrade from the Huawei M318 is the second Huawei phone to hit the US market. It's the fourth consumer device total; Alltel has two Huawei data cards, and has had them for awhile. Anyhow, the M328 is nothing to write home about; its most notable feature is AWS spectrum compatibility (MetroPCS, like CricKet, has some of those airwaves). Next most notable is the possibility of having Bluetooth...it might or might not depending on where Google takes you. Details are sparse on MetroPCS's website at the moment, so you can't tell for sure.

Motorola Razr v3s - At $179 you'd think this is just a Motorola v3a "Razr Lite" with a spun-metal finish. You wouldn't be far from the truth, though this phone also sports AWS band compatibility. Keep in mind that the v3s is nothing special; there's no music player, no high-speed data and no megapixel-plus camera (it's just VGA...if you're thinking "original GSM Razr except for CDMA" you've got the picture) but at least there's a phone that might qualify as high-end on MetroPCS' AWS service. CricKet has the phone too, but only in AWS-only markets. In the meanwhile, MetroPCS is offering a free case and charger with purchase of the v3s, so you might want to buy now if you're into that sort of thing.

...but wait! One more phone is available only in AWS-only areas: the ZTE C79. At $169 the phone shows that Chinese manufacturers have one big advantage: they're cheap, and you can pass on the non-expense to customers. As far as phone features go, the C79 has plenty, ranging from a MicroSD-powered media player with Stereo Bluetooth to a 1.3 megapixel camera to a high-res 2" screen. No wait...the phone is out of stock...or, more likely, not quite in stock. But once the ZTE trucks roll in, MetroPCS should wind up with a full-featured multimedia AWS phone on their hands, which is a good thing for customers in such places as Vegas and Philly whose only choice for MetroPCS are AWS-capable handsets.

...but what about Philly and MetroPCS? See the next post...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pocket Intros Kyocera KX18, Kyocera Rebates Still Going Strong

Apologies for the lengthy amount of time where I haven’t posted anything to this site, during which several things have happened in the unlimited cellular industry. I did post about Virgin Mobile’s “Totally Unlimited” plan but there are plenty of other things to talk about…

First off, Pocket Communications has another net\w phone: the Kyocera KX18. If you seem to remember that model designation, your memory serves correctly: this phone could be found on Amp’d Mobile until the company closed up shop last year. Pocket is offering the handset for $129.

They’ve offered something similar, the Kyocera Slider Remix, before at a similar price point, but the phone was discontinued shortly after it was introduced on the network. My hunch is that the acquisitions folks at Pocket scout around for small-scale bulk purchases of slightly older-generation phones, then snap them up at a low enough price to resell to customers at a decent price (for an unlimited carrier at least) and still make a profit, or at least have a low loss leader (something that’s nice to have when you’re selling non-contract service).

Anyhow, the phone has a reasonable number of features, like high-speed internet (not supported on Pocket’s network), a camera with picture messaging (supported on Pocket’s network) and your usual other features (supported on Pocket’s network). The phone also had other multimedia features on Amp’d like Push-to-Talk and TV\Music downloads, that I doubt made it over to Pocket. I’ll have to take a look at a working phone (if I can) when I get back to Texas (on vacation in Florida right now) to see exactly what the Pocket KX18 is like. I’m thinking it’s probably the same generic Kyocera interface as that of the Slider Remix (KX5) and the Candid (KX16).

Personally, I’d opt for a non-Kyocera phone, but I’ve heard decent reviews of the KX18 from the Amp’d peanut gallery so this actually might be a good $129 choice on Pocket…

One more thing: $30 rebates for two of Pocket’s Kyocera phones are still available. So if you want a barely-functional phone (K132) for $49 after a rebate, or Kyocera’s newest messaging phone (M1000) for $169, you’re in luck.

That’s about it on the Pocket front, so far as I can tell.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Virgin Mobile Is, Like, Totally Unlimited, Dude

Following in the footsteps of the contract unlimited plans, and joining services such as Page Plus Cellular, Virgin Mobile now has an unlimited plan of their own. Powered by Sprint's network (no roaming due to the difficulty of doing billing etc. on CDMA, among other things) and making use of Virgin Mobile's current lineup, unlimited voice calling is now available for a mere $79.99 a month, though this total may well be without another 10-20% in taxes and fees. At any rate, if you're looking for unlimited voice service and don't mind being limited to a single carrier's network (Sprint's contract plans cap roaming at 800 minutes per month anyway) Virgin Mobile is $20 cheaper than Verizon and AT&T. If you want messaging on top of your minutes, the Virgin Mobile plan weighs in at $10 cheaper than T-Mobile and on par with Sprint's contract plan: $10 more per month than the base rate, or $90 in all. Or you can get 1000 messages of any type for $5 extra per month, better than anything contract providers are offering (AT&T;would give you a stingy 200 messages for that price).

Virgin Mobile's foray into unlimited marks the going mainstream of prepaid unlimited service: most people have seen or heard of Virgin Mobile (versus PowerLink or Page Plus Cellular), the network VMo uses is nationwide and there's no contract to sign. Basically what you give up when choosing Virgin Mobile versus a contract carrier is a very inexpensive or free phone (though several of Virgin Mobile's phones are less expensive than contract carriers' activation fees) and roaming off of Sprint's network. That's it. Virgin Mobile's phones are also significantly cheaper than those of CricKet, MetroPCS, Pocket et al though the diferential is quickly reversed with the higher monthly fee. Also, data access is still limited, though in all honesty pulling $5 worth (5 MB) of data over the current phone lineup (which has no 3G data) isn't all that easy to do.

Whatever way you look at it, the introduction of this unlimited plan is the introduction of more competition into the cellular market, particularly the unlimited part. That's always a good thing.

As a postscript, maybe the introduction of the "Totally Unlimited" plan is a result of Virgin Mobile's buying up the contract-based Sprint-based Helio, which offers high-end phones and a $100-a-month unlimited-everything plan.Or not...just thinking...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

CricKet Lowers EZ Pricing, Discounts Broadband Cards

First off, a combination of web discounts and a mail in rebate bring the CricKet EZ pphone down to a mere $30. Though I wouldn't get it; it had 911 issues in the past and seems to generally be a very, very low-end phone.

Second, CricKet has, through mail-in rebates and web discounts, slashed prices on their mobile broadband options. Not the plans, just the phones. The USB modem is now $59 after rebates and discounts, and the PC card (which will get phased out relatively soon due to incompatibilities with the newer parts of CricKet's network) is, after rebates, free. This is with no contract, though in order to get the rebate you have to stay with CricKet for a few months.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Boost Mobile Raises Rates

Looks like Sprint's Unlimited By Boost program is getting a rate hike. Dunno quite why, as the plan prices aren't exactly great to begin with, but in my area (Texas) the cost per month is now $50 for just talk, $60 for talk and text and a whopping $70 for talk, text and web. Compare this to Sprint's own unlimited plans ($90 for talk and messaging, $100 for everything) and factor in that on Boost you're paying up front for the phone and that your coverage is only on the Sprint network in a certain area and considering that area isn't that big (unless you pay ANOTHER $5 a month), Boost is getting to be less and less of a great deal.

Oh, and taxes are extra as well. In my area that adds about 20% to your bill. On my contract Sprint phone, the bill addition is slightly more than 20%, but I'm on a $30-a-month plan...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

PowerLink Unlimited Not So Unlimited, FlexPay Available SIM-only

Looking for a trruly unlimited cellular experience on the Sprint network, with no contract? Don't go with PowerLink then. Reports have now surfaced that, above 4000 minutes a month, people are getting calls saying their service will be cut off if they keep on at that rate. Granted, PowerLink is selling minutes at half the price, at this rate, versus what a 4000 minute plan was just months ago, however "unlimited" should mean, well, unlimited. Not 1500, 2500 or 4000 minutes per month. Heck, AT&T explicitly says that their $40 a month plan has 5000 night and weekend minutes...

So if you want contract-less unlimited service and have to choose from the "big boys", T-Mobile's FlexPay, while on the rather expensive side, is probably the way to go.

By the way, for $6.99 plus tax you can get a FlexPay SIM card to put in the device of your choice, as long as it's GSM and can use T-Mobile service. I ordered one, and will post back here with my experience with the service.

T-Mobile Does Unlimited Family Right...$50 per line plus $50 to start...

Looks like T-Mobile has brought out the big guns on unlimited with their family plan. It's now up to competitors to see whether they'll follow.

$150 a month gets two lines of unlimited service. Additional lines are...get this...a mere $50 a month more, about the same as you'd pay for an unlimited line with the likes of CricKet. The first two lines are effectively $75 a month, cheaper than you'd pay for a 1350 minute plan on a single line.

As with T-Mobile's individual unlimited plan, the family plan includes, in addition to unlimited calling to and from anyone at any time andwhere your phone will work, unlimited messaging of any type.

What's even crazier is that you don't even have to sign a contract to get this deal. You can now get both unlimited individual and family plans with T-Mobile's FlexPay service. I'm still trying to find out whether T-Mobile offers a SIM-only kit for FlexPay though...their phone prices with no contract are rather high...

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Pocket Intros Pay-by-14-day-period service

What's better than pay-by-week cell phone service from the likes of CricKet? Pay-by-two-week service at the same price from Pocket, of course!

You can get any of Pocket's plans on the nearly-bimonthly edition of their service, albeit at $5 extra per month versus the regular plans. Actually, more than that since most months are longer than 28 days. Also, you get only 14 days free service with a new phone instead of a whole month.

On the other hand, this is a cool deal for people who don't want to pay $25 or more at a time for their phone service. They just pay $15 and, two weeks later, do it again. Sounds fair enough, and it's a whole lot better than CricKet's $18/week deal.

Calling 911 isn't so "EZ" on CricKet

Looks like CricKet's Compcal-made (Chinese junk) EZ phone doesn't do well when it comes to calling 911. However a firmware upgrade is available for the phone to fix this glaring, though so far not life-taking, flaw. You have to go to a CricKet store to get the upgrade. And yes, everyone with the phone has been notified, via both phone calls and text messages. In short, don't buy Chinese junk, but if you did do so, make sure your phone can dial 911, and the people can hear you on the other end!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

MetroPCS Intros Kyocera S4000 Mako...CricKet to be next?

Take a Motorola Razr (you know, the original one, or maybe the relatively new v3a now being sold) or maybe the Original Sanyo Katana. Now change the styling to something more flat, add a little bit to its profile and stick the Kyocera name on it. You now have the Kyocera S4000 Mako. Introduced at CTIA 2008 (CTIA is short for "crazy huge electronics show" or something like that) this low-cost rather-thin no-frills handset is now available on MetroPCS for $139, and (if Kyocera's website is correct) will be on CricKet soon. Yaknow, people on unlimited service could stand for some better phones, but at $139 you can't complain too loudly.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cricket Lowers Plan Cost for Mobile Web

Looks like, in response to Sprint's continued promotion of their unlimited plans, CricKet has messed with the features available on their $45 plan. It now includes unlimited calling, messaging and web, plus messaging to Mexico. It is the plan now featured on the landing page on their website, instead of the $50 plan, in comparison to Sprint's $89, and Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T's $99 plans. The thing is that CricKet is leaving themselves open to an awesome ad campaign on the part of, say, Alltel: "Real unlimited with half the coverage". No, seriously. CricKet is today what Sprint et al were in, oh, 1998...just enough coverage to sign up customers looking for a good deal. Sprint did it with 300 minutes for $30, and now Cricket is doing it with unlimited for $45.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

MetroPCS Pledges to Expand AWS, CricKet and Pocket Discount Phones

First off, it looks like MetroPCS is going to expand its AWS service not only to areas where it can't get PCS spectrum, but also to places where it has current service. This has got to be for ramping up capacity, so MetroPCS can get even more customers in the areas it serves without running into the technical limits that a limited amount of wireless spectrum imposes. By the way, note to PhoneScoop: AWS-capable phones are tri-band (cellular/AWS/PCS), not dual-band.

Second, CricKet has discontinued rebates on its higher-end phones, but still has $50 mail-in rebates on their lowest-end, non-camera phones. This means you can get the Samsung Spex for a mere $49.99 after rebates (but before CricKet's $15 activation fee) and three phones (UTStarCom's 7026 and 7126, and Kyocera's K132) for $69.99 after the discounts.

Meanwhile, Pocket has put some of their phones on clearance and is offering rebates of varying sizes on newer ones. Nothing on the older Kyocera Strobe (aka Switch_Back) but the newer M1000 "Lingo" gets $30 off, for an ending price of $169 (plus tax on $199). The Kyocera K132 is $15 off, for an ending price of $65ish. The Kyocera K342 is still $99 after a $40 rebate.

By the way, the Motorola w385 that Pocket sells looks most like the Motorola w37o's and w375's on Tracfone of all of the various models that can be seen on the likes of Boost Mobile "UNLTD" and (formerly) MetroPCS. Interesting bit of trivia there...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

CricKet Enters South Texas, Puts AWS Data Card Online

CricKet hasn't been standing by either; they're out in full force in south Texas, and they've put their newest wireless modem online for anyone to buy who wants it...anyone, that is, who lives in an EvDO-enabled area (San Antonio and, it seems, South Texas, aren't).

First of, they're now everywhere Pocket is (or so says their map), reaching down into the Brownsville area, up through Corpus Christi, out to Laredo, into San Antonio, to Austin, Houston...as I said, they've got all the bases covered. No matter what meaningless gobbledygook they're saying, their target is Pocket. Their plans are comparable, they list Pocket as an eligible carrier for which you'll get $30 back on your new CricKet phone purchase if you bring in one of their old phones, people are switching because they can save $6 a month on service (which I doubt, unless CricKet rolls taxes into their monthly fee...no wait...they don't), etc. Sure, CricKet wants to compete with the unlimited plans of the "big boys" who charge $90-$100 per month versus CricKet's $50 or less, but the fact remains that they just moved into an area where Pocket is currently king. Let's see who blinks first...I foresee either crazy price wars on phones and service or Pocket overlaying its network with EvDO before CricKet does the same in the area.

Speaking of overlays, I was incorrect in stating that CricKet's spectrum in south Texas is 1900MHz, like all of their older markets. It's 1700MHz AWS, which might (but probably isn't) be slightly better in terms of reception than the PCS frequencies they normally use (and Pocket uses exclusively for the present) but, more importantly, places CricKet at a disadvantage for the near future when it comes to phone availability and variety in the area. In order for them to offer comparable coverage to Pocket, you have to buy one of three phones. Sure, if you bring in your Pocket phone they're cheaper, but Pocket has 16+ different phone models to choose from across its network, including the Razr v3m (and v3a) as well as the high-end Rokr z6m slider. CricKet probably won't get that calibre of phone for nearly a year. At any rate, things will be quite interesting...

Speaking of EvDO (see the paragraph above the paragraph above this one) CricKet is now allowing people to go online and purchase their new, USB, tri-band (Oklahoma City compatible) aircard, the UTStarCom UM100C. It's a bit bulkier than some other new modems, like Sprint's Sierra Compass (which will work with the Macbook Air's close-quarters port), but it does support Rev. A data speeds (better latency, slightly better downloads, less speed variation, significantly better uploads) and it is compatible with whatever network CricKet will throw at it (namely 1900MHz and 1700MHz).

The only disadvantage of this new modem over the older Kyocera PC card is price: while the Kyocera ends up being $59, the UTStarCom unit is $180, minus $31 if you order online, minus another $50 for a mail-in rebate, for an ending price of $99. Keep in mind that the rebate needs to e sent in before your first month of service is up, and will be processed after you've stayed with CricKet for a month and a half. Just sayin'. By the way, the rebate (and, I assume, data card service at the moment) is limited to Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Nashville, Portland, Salem, Eugene, Spokane, Fresno, Modesto/Merced and Visalla. In short, you can't pick up a data card from anywhere CricKet is sold and expect it, or the rebate, to work as advertised...one of the big regions where this is the case is Texas. How interesting...

MetroPCS 's Family Plan Rocks

It seems as though unlimited carriers are getting in on the family plan bandwagon. Granted, there's no minute sharing (try dividing by zero if you think that this is possible), but it's easier to bill two, three, four or five customers together instead of separately, especially if they're all on your service, hence the discounts Pocket, CricKet and now MetroPCS are handing out to customers for setting up multiple lines of service as a "family plan" on their network.

The spotlight is on MetroPCS because their family plan is just plain sweet, especially when you get four or five people on it.

Granted, local + long distance + text messaging + calling features (Caller ID, Call Waiting, Voicemail) for $40 per month may seem a bit high if you're spoiled by Pocket, or CricKet competing with Pocket, but the story changes when you add lines to the mix. You don't just get a discount on the additional line...for the second, third and fourth lines on a plan, each line takes $5 off the tab for ALL lines. So two lines are $35 apiece, or $70 total. Three lines add up to $90, four for $100, five for $125. When I saw the 4-lines-for-$100-per-month pitch I thought there had to have been a typo somewhere; even Pocket would charge $35 per month for that sort of plan, though Pocket comes with picture messaging. Their family plan, though admittedly higher-spec than MetroPCS's, gets you three lines for $100, not four.

So the effective cost for the second line on the plan is $30, the third line $20 and the fourth line a crazy-low $10, the price of an add-a-line feature on contract plans, where minutes have to be shared. Apologies for overreacting, but that's just insane if you can get four people on one bill, or a whole family using the service.

Pocket Intros Online Account Viewer, Partners to "Unlock" phones

Looks like Pocket has introduced two relatively cool (though relatively needed) things to their service: online account access and phone migration...

First off, you can now change your plan, your customer information (though not who the phone's "primary owner" is) and check your "Value Pocket" balance on the web. You can even pay your bill via credit card or set up their autopay service. You can also see a breakdown of taxes and fees being charged to your plan (when I looked at a friend's account...a friend who bought the phone from me  when I used to use Pocket...there were about $7.35 in taxes on his $40 plan) and you can buy ringtones and such, though you could do that already from Pocket's media portal that has been up for months now. Really, that's all you need as far as online account managment goes, and it's easy to navigate...no need for complex bills or multipage call reports; everything's unlimited so it doesn't matter!

Second, Pocket is partnering with the folks at keepmyphone.com to bring phones from other carriers onto Pocket's network. My guess is that, with the variety of phone models shown on the site, the company is probably not "flashing" the phones to Pocket (read: generic, the last time I checked) software so the only things that will work are voice and text messaging, at least for the most part, but then again I could be wrong and if you've got a perfectly good phone from Verizon, Sprint or whoever else that runs CDMA, that may be all you need. I'm guessing there will be a small fee for the service, plus having to buy your first month of service outright rather than it being included with the phone...the fee I'm guessing will be $10-$30 per phone. I'll get more details on this when I get back to Texas this weekend (yes, I'm finally finished with school!).

These are improvements to be sure...let's see how they impact Pocket's customer base..they now have big competition from CricKet...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New Forum!

Check out the link bar, because this website now has a forum! I'm running it inside the Go4Prepaid forums (Go4Prepaid is the sister site to this one...it has been around longer and such) and hopefully it'll provide folks who come here a way to interact, ask questions and get answers about unlimited wireless service. So go on over there and sign up, or if you already have an account with the Go4Prepaid forums, roll on over and post. Hope you like it! Again, the link is to your right.

CricKet Coming To Vegas 5\13

Finally, direct, big-guy to big-guy competition comes to the unlimited space. MetroPCS recently opened up service in Las Vegas. Now CricKet is doing the same. Bot are using the AWS (1700 MHz) spectrum. Let's see what fireworks happen...I predict low phone prices for one.

CricKet Wireless Data, Now Buy-able online!

First it was AWS phones. Now it's mobile broadband. CricKet, in their EvDO markets (most of them, see here for details), is now offering cellular broadband prominently on their website. For $40 per month, or $35 if you have a phone plan with CricKet, plus a mere $59 for the Kyocera Passport modem (which will not work in AWS areas, by the way, and will not work with newer laptops or desktops as it's a PC card...just warning ya...probably best to wait until the UTStarCom USB modem comes around), you can surf at high speeds wherever CricKet EvDO service reaches. Just make sure to keep your usage "reasonable"...after 5 GB in one month who know what they'll do to ya, namely slow you down or cut you off.

Still, it's cool to see an unlimited provider striking out like this where nobody has really gone before: cellular broadband with no contract and at a price comparable to cable or DSL, albeit trading speed for mobility.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Millenicom!!!

Sorry to make this post short, but I have a resolution tonight: go to bed at a reasonable hour.

Anyway, if you want mobile broadband looks like you actually have a nationwide, non-contract, possibly unlimited (though if you get Verizon you get the 5GB per month limit, grr) option for $59.99 a month, plus $65 (incuding shipping) for the modem: Millenicom (www.millenicom.com). Head on over to www.dslreports.com and hunt up the Millenicom forum for more info. People seem to like them and while the service ain't as cheap as CricKet's $35-$40 option (plus taxes I'd suppose, though I hear tell they're not nearl as high as taxes on regular cellular service) you actually get nationwide broadband without having to touch a contract. You could even sign up your own EvDO card, so if someone wants to donate their old aircard to you you're set. Or, more likely, if you buy a Sprint-equipped laptop and don't mind not getting a service credit you can get mobile broadband like it was WiFi: built in. I may actually do this...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

CricKet's Data Plan, AWS Phones & Activation Fee

Two quick things...

1) Did you know that CricKet charges a $15 activation fee to start service on one of their cell phones? I'm not sur if\when it gets waived, but you don't see MetroPCS or Pocket Communications doing that. Then again, CricKet's phone prices are a little lower than the other two carriers' prices, at least online, offsetting the fee.

2) CricKet is now selling its tri-band (AWS capable) phones in other markets than Oklahoma City. They must've sold out of UTStarCom 7126's, as the phones available are the Samsung Spex and the Samsung MyShot. They're quite inexpensive ($70 for the Spex, $130 for the MyShot) all things considered, though the best thing they have is Bluetooth (and a 1.3 megapixel camera on the MyShot) so they're not giving pure gold away...still, it's nice to have "network-wide" phones available...um...network-wide...

3) CricKet seems to be phasing out the Kyocera Passport modem they were using for wireless data in favor of the UTStarCom U100 USB modem, which is tri-band (read: compatible with Oklahoma City) and can be used on any computer, not just older laptops. It's also $99 instead of $59, but that's still not a bad price for a EvDO Rev. A USB modem. Data speeds seem to e in the 1-1.2 megabit range for download speed and the 250-400 kilobit range for uploads. The service is definitely Rev. A (marked by the decent upload speed) however it could be quite a bit better, particularly on downloads. Also, keep in mind that your $35 or $40 per month buys you 5GB of data at full speed, after which you're gonna be throttled. Don't know how bad the throttling will be but just putting that out there. So basically your high speed data access works out to about $8 per gigabyte (plus taxes so probably more like $9) or $7 (or $8 with taxes and fees) if you already have CricKet voice service. Not bad for web browsing, e-mail and such, but don't do anything more than download music (bought, not P2P...P2P uses more bandwidth) and maybe watch the occasional web video, lest you go over your allotment, which works out to a little over 166 MB per day.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

CricKet vs. The Big Guys, Revol Intros the Lingo

CricKet is, at the moment, making a point of how you can get "more unlimited" for half the price of other carriers. Now on their front page, they have a top-to-bottom comparison of all the major carriers' plans, and theirs. Verizon and AT&T are at the bottom, charging $100 per month for unlimited voice calling. Next up is T-Mobile with unlimited messaging thrown in. Aoev T-Mobile it gets interesting. Sprint is displayed...their $89 plan, that is. I guess the folks at CricKet are hoping that you don't look and see that not only is Sprint not quite 2x as expensive as CricKet's top-class lineup (which includes stuff that most people never use as out-of-the-ordinary extras, namely 411 and international texting)...Sprint's $100 plan beats CricKet's $50 plan, esoecially in the area of coverage. Sprint gets Push To Talk, mobile phone TV, high-speed web browsing and (I think) Sirius radio where CricKet gets mobile web (usually at 1xRTT speeds, meh), free 411 (how about Google SMS or 1-800-GOOG-411 or 1-80-FREE-411?) and international text.

What should CricKet really be doing? Well, first off making sure that nobody knows they aren't a national carrier, heh. T-Mobile's relatively lousy coverage pales in comparison to CricKet's footprint, or lack thereof (though it's getting better...I think they've caught up to Sprint...in 1995!). Then compare their plans to something with limited minutes and no features on one of he "big boys". Note to CricKet: don't compare with Sprint. Rumor has it they're giving away free kitchen sinks.

In other news, Revol now has the Kyocera M100 "Lingo". You know, the successor to the Strobe, the weirdest-looking phone ever? Anyway, it's ridiculously priced, at $229. Plus you have to pay for your first month of service, which isn't a requirement for other unlimited carriers. My suggestion? Get a non-local number, get the Samsung text-friendly phone on MetroPCS, and roam on Revol. Geez freaking Louise, this company needs competition. Or maybe a swift kick in the pants.

If you're browsing around Revol's site and see something called RevolPTT by the way, ignore it. The feature, which can be used on all Motorola phones but the v710, as well as the Kyocera K312 (sound familiar? MetroPCS is the correct answer) and KX444, looks to be the same lameness that MetroPCS will shortly perpetrate on its customers as "push to talk". How about this: all phones come with Push To Talk. Step one: select number. Step two: PUSH the Talk button. Call it Voice SMS or something, but the only real push to talk solution worth its salt is the stuff Sprint is selling (iDEN and QChat). Kodiak (AT&T and Alltel) sorta count though I think the service basically sets up a phone call between the sender and recipient. Verizon and Sprint ReadyLink? Almost as bad as MetroPCS and Revol. Thus ends the weekly push-to-talk rant.

By the way, if you find this site worthwhile please check out some other sites that Google is serving up to your right. Doing so gives me a sense of self-worth, if not net-worth, in regard to this site. Thanks!

Friday, April 11, 2008

CricKet To Come To South Texas May 5th

With the introduction of CricKet (AWS) service to Oklahoma City, CricKet has now put a date on expansion into South Texas on normal (PCS) spectrum. Yep, that's Cinco de Mayo. The plan is to take over Laredo, Brownsville, McAllen and Corpus Christi markets. If you thought that the first three markets sound familiar, you are absolutely right: that's where Pocket is right now. Looks like CricKet is trying to compete, tower-for-tower, plan-for-plan, with Pocket. Betcha it gets nasty sooner or later.

By the way, would anyone be interested in a forum for unlimited cell phone companies? Seems like there isn't really one right now. Comment on this post...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Kyocera K312 Online w\MetroPCS

Yep, it's post 101 on UnlimitedCellular. And there was much rejoicing.

Anyway, The Kyocera K312p "push to talk" phone has showed up on MetroPCS's website, though you can't uy it from there yet. The cost? $129. I'd go for a different phone since PTT is just a gimmick on MetroPCS but toeach his own.

CricKet EvDO Phones

Just in case you were curious, if you want a cell phone that does EvDO on CricKet, where they have that service, here are the ones. No Rev. A phones yet (nobody has 'em except Sprint anyway) but it's better than 1xRTT crud:

Motorola Razr2 v9m
Motorola Rokr z6m
Samsung r500

Um...wow...that's it. Enjoy your miniscule selection of high-speed phones. Then again, MetroPCS may not be any better, and Pocket doesn't even have EvDO...I still woner how well CricKet Ev works.

CricKet Releases AWS in OKC, Internet on EvDO

Sorry for yesterday, should've posted this information up then. Ah well...

First off, CricKet is live in Oklahoma City! No, the plan aren't any different from what you'd typically find on CricKet outside of Pocket territory. However the phones are definitely something new. As I predicted, you've got the same three AWS phones available on CricKet as you do on MetroPCS. However on CricKet they're marked up $20 retail, then down $50 online (looks like) for a net price of $30 less than MetroPCS charges for the phone. Well, except for the Samsung MyShot, which retails for the same as it does on MetroPCS, except an online discount makes the phone $130 instead of $150. Decent deal by me.

In other news, for those of you who want high-speed internet wirelessly on the cheap, CricKet has something for you. Coming soon to all markets, and already in some markets (OKC coming soon) you can buy a modem for a mere $59 (! considering there's no contract) and start your service. The first month is free, though there is a $25 activation fee (do all CricKet phones have that?). After that, the cost is a mere $40 per month, with a $5 per month discount for existing customers. Considering that I'm pretty sure that CricKet's EvDO network is revision A (though I'm not 100% sure) it's a decent price to pay if you don't want to sign a contract for wireless data (CricKet is the first to do this to my knowledge) for decent speeds. If, that is, CricKet's network is up to snuff, which can be doubted. One caveat though: you get the Verizon-esque 5GB "soft limit" after which they may shut you off, have you attacked by samurai or something equally annoying...and yes, they seem to have ripped off Verizon's terms of service (no webcams, P2P...that will degrade network functionality). Par for the course, unfortunately...if you want to get really unlimited data, you have to sign a contract with Sprint.

One other thing about the 'net plan: looks like they're only offering a PC card right now for 'net access. No newer laptops need apply unless you want to get a USB adapter (which is another $40 or so)...though their pomotional image includes a USB modem (good!).

Overall, it's cool to see CricKet and MetroPCS rolling out AWS in a few markets it serves, though I don't get their unwillingness to offer the phones out of the AWS areas. Maybe they're losing money on 'em or something...a bad thing to do with an unlimited carrier. Ah well...

One more thing though: on the regular (1900 MHz CDMA) front, CricKet is offering some ridiculous mail-in rebates on several of its phones in plenty of markets. All phones more expensive than the Samsung Siren get a $100 mail-in rebate. All handsets less expensive get a $50 rebate, down to the Motorola w315. The rebate requires you to have had the service on CricKet for 45 days, but I gotta say "this is maaaaddnesssss!" So if you want CricKet, buy your phone now, and buy big. The Samsung r500 is a mere $80, the Rokr just $180, the Razr v3a only $80 and the Razr2 just $280.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Pocket Gets The E1000, e815 (?) and UTS Mini Coming Up!

Looks like Pocket is first to the game, unlimited-wise, with another Kyocera phone: the E1000. Previously seen on US Cellular, this shiny little thing (they don't call it "Deco" for nuthin') is basically the Kyocera K342 Pocket already has (for $139...the rebate time period looks to be up), except newer, with more memory...and prettied up. The cost above the K342 is a mere $10, so if you were thinking about getting the K342 this is probably where you should be going. Hopefully I'll be abl to play with this phone a little in six weeks or so when I get back home to Texas, to see whether Kyocera has actually made something worthwhile (doubt it, but we'll see).

So how did I predict the entrance of this phone awhile back? By the media store online, of course. Well now they've leaked another phone or two. The first one, the Motorola e815, may have already been there, I'm not sure, but the Audiovox 8935 (actually the UTStarCom 8935) is new. What exactly is the 8935? Why, the Mini seen on CricKet of course. I didn't make a price prediction on the Kyocera E1000 last time, but I'll try my hand at predicting the cost of the 8935\Mini this time around: $129. Lower than the retail price of the Mini but higher than the online-only price, similar to the pricing scheme pursued by Pocket on other hones, where prices are either equal to or below retail, though not necessarily below the price including the online discount.

My take on things: bring on the phones! Just make sure they're not bad ones...like the Kyocera K132. I'm betting Pocket will be down to 11 phone models relatively soon, once they sell out of the older, low-end models. Then again, I could be wrong...

Friday, April 4, 2008

MetroPCS Intros Push To Talk, Has Revol Roaming...and other roaming...

Looks like Push To Talk is coming to MetroPCS in some capacity or other. The first phone to support it will be the Kyocera K312p, and other phones can be upgraded to do the same thing. Why? Because it's it's more like GimPTT.

Here's how it works:

1. To initiate a PTT session, the software app on the phone sends a special text message to the recipient.
2. The recipient phone calls back and the original phne uses Caller ID to tell that the callback is for the purpose of "PTT".
3. You pretend you're actually using PTT when you're really just doing a regular phone call.

Simple to implement, simple to extend to other carriers or whatever, but probably no better in speed than the Verizon Winforia PTT system (slow), Alltel's Kodiak system (slow to start, fine afterwords) or AT&T's Kodiak system (even slower to start, fine afterwards). It's probably similar in function to the Revol PTT system, and I'm not impressed. There are better ways to spend the $5 a month that this service will cost, once it's rolled out everywhere...and no, I don't want a Kyocera PTT phone either. In short, this ain't iDEN or QChat, so fuhgetaboudit.

In other news, I just found out that MetroPCS has an agreement with Revol (the Great Lakes unlimited carrier) that if a MetroPCS phone enters their territory, you still get unlimited service at no extra charge. This is a nice extension of the MetroPCS Detroit market, and has been around for awhile. Though with prices for Revol service being what they are, why not drive up to Detroit, grab a MetroPCS phone (which is cheaper and better than what Revol has anyway), then use it in Revol territory? Unless you need a local number...

In real news, however, MetroPCS has intro'd a new PRL (preferred roaming list) on its phones. Dial *228 to update and you'll find that your phone suddenly prefers Alltel when roaming. Why? Alltel obviously made a decent deal with MetroPCS; roaming on them is a mere 24 cents per minute. Still not great, but a far sight from the 49-79 cents seen elsewhere. Also, in some areas it is rumored that, where MetroPCS is still setting up main infrastructure of its own, they'll let you roam on Verizon for free. Probably rather expensive for them, but nice considering that otherwise they would receive lots of coverage complaints as they built out their network.

Pocket Tops 265k, gets new network equpment

Pocket Communications has now reached 265,000 customers, doubling their subscriber count in a matter of six months or so. Seems like their low prices, decent network (compared with CricKet's at least, whcih I've heard is a wreck) and fine customer service is paying off. As such though, they're orking with another company to get their network outfitted with gear that can scale quickly and easily in the event of even more customer gains. Smart idea, adding capacity before the system grinds to a halt because of lack thereof. I'm looking forward to anything else Pocket might come out with in the future...they're doing a good job with their service right now and gaining customers faster than carriers tewnty times their size. and I think most customers are sticking with them, especially when you consider that their market, the prepaid one, is normally high-churn. Now if they could just get roaming worked out at a cheaper rate (maybe making a deal with Page Plus Cellular for both voice and text?) they've got it made. Heck, they could offer unlimited voice and text roaming access for $2.50 per day out of the flex account you can prepay with them, and they've got EVERYONE beat in terms of unlimited service in the area.

By the way, I saw one post talking about MetroPCS possibly buying Pocket. Don't know if it's true, but it'd make sense, as Pocket and MetroPCS's service areas don't overlap, though if MetroPCS did buy them they'd face stiff competition from CricKet in the same area for probably the first time on a large scale.

Nokia Intros AWS Phones, Bound for CricKet\MetroPCS by anyone's estimate

Looks like Nokia is testing the CDMA waters again, which I'm glad for. This time though, their phones are headed directly toward the recipients of the AWS spectrum, coming this fall: CricKet and MetroPCS. Or at least, I'm supposing that's why they have tri-band CDMA service with AWS capability.

On the one hand you have the relatively powerful 3606. With MicroSD support (including cards as big as 8GB), a 1.3 megapixel camera with a flash, stereo Bluetooth and a snazzy hidden external display, this little flip phone is a welcome addition to teh high end of CricKet\MetroPCS's lineups. Sure, you can get the Razr2 on CricKet but the Nokia will probably sell for around $200 and packs enough features that you won't miss the Razr2. Plus, Nokias are just awesome phones.

On the other hand, you have the much more basic Nokia 1606. No camera, no Bluetooth, no memory card slot and the presence of a flashlight indicate that this is probably a phone in the $100 range, maybe a little more expensive, but not by much. It's not such a great phone feature-wise, but hey, it's a Nokia, and with both low-end and high-end phones coming in the fall I'm happy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Boost Price Drops

Looks like prices have fallen to a more reasonable level on Sprint's Boost Mobile "UNLTD" service. Though the Motorola w385 is still $130, prices for the other phone models have fallen. The c290 is now just $90 to buy, and the high-speed-net-access, slim-and-stylish, powerful Motorola KRZR is now $180, down $70 from the opening price of $250, only $50 above the price of the w385.

Yes folks, you may be paying extra on the plan side for service like this, to the tune of about $10 extra per month over CricKet or MetroPCS. But on the front end, you get more phone for your money than on either CricKet or MetropCS...or any other unlimited, for that matter. As an example, the Motorola w315 costs $100 on CricKet, vs. $90 for the c290 (which is pretty close in functionality) on Boost. $130 gets you the w385, which would cost you $10-$20 more for simiar specs on CricKetMetroPCS. To top 'em all, the $180 KRZR is very much superior to everything below $200, or even more, on he other unlimited carriers. Certainly much better than the Razr v3a, which is a step far, far down from the v3m that the companies had offered in the past.

So now that phone prices are reasonable for high-speed or no-frills communication, I give Boost UNLTD an even more solid "buy" rating, though you might want to double-check the other guys' coverage footprints to see what works best for you, especially since Boost's coverage areas are limited to just a few Sprint markets (why, I don't rightly know).

Monday, March 31, 2008

CricKet Buys Pocket

Looks like we now know how CricKet is going to expand into South Texas. An agreement has been reached, and the owner of Pocket Communications, Paul Posner, has sold the company for an undisclosed sum to Leap Wireless, owner of the CricKet service. So that's why coverage maps seemed so familiar...

I've heard rumors that all CricKet support staff in the Texas area has been laid off, in favor of the Pocket agents, who seem to be doing a much better job at support. Also, HEB outlets will now sport CricKet phones near the front doors instead of Pocket phones. Service prices are expected to rise up to otherwise-national levels now that CricKet has done away with its heated competitor, which had precisely 277,777 customers at the time of the purchase.

A sad day in the unlimited space, I must say. Quotin Posner, "My indomitable Texas spirit for offering great service fell when I saw how much money Leap was offering for my world-class cell service provider. Don't worry; I'll probably use it to buy some sort of spectrum from AT&T or something and start some other wireless business that benefits everyone in Texas. I mean, come on, when AT&T bought Dobson CellularOne, after Dobson CellularOne bought Concho Cellular, I knew it was only a matter of time..."

CricKet is now the larger of the two unlimited cellular providers in the U.S. by a small margin. Their South Texas network should be ready by the end of the month, with Laredo and Brownsville going live today, since little work was needed to switch over from Pocket to CricKet service. Update your PRLs, everyone!

Or not. April Fool's! May Pocket never die!

Don't Forget St. Louis!

No, I didn't forget; CricKet AWS service will also be coming to St. Louis, MO. Jst so everyone knows...

...and no, I didn't know that the Motorola v265 is supposedly a primarily CricKet-forused phone, which only later made its way to Verizon...

CricKet in Texas

In other, 1900MHz, news, CricKet looks to be trying to put Pocket Communications out of business ASAP.

Looks like they've expanded their coverage in the San Antonio area to cover pretty much what Pocket does, except CricKet also covers Austin and Houston areas, as well as "out west" and up into the Temple\Killeen area. Surprisingly, this coverage block is relatively monolithic, tough off the higways between the various cities you're roaming. When I get back to Fredericksburg I'm going to grab a CricKet phone to test the coverage...I doubt it's great for some odd reason but we'll see...

But CricKet isn't stopping here. Their plans have been modified once again to beat Pocket's. Their remarkably low-priced $25 plan gives you caller ID, whereas Pocket's $25 plan doesn't. On the $35 plan CricKet throws in unlimited use in all of its coverage area, which trump's Pocket's by a large amount. On $45, CricKet has the same advantage as on the $35 plan. At $55, you get 120 roaming minutes, something Pocket just doesn't do. The 120 minutes would normally cost $15 per month extra (or pay $5 extra per month for 30 minutes or $10 extra for 70). Or pay per minute at 39 cents. Pocket charges 59, by virtue of its smallness. Though Pocket does offer Call Forwarding at their $35 level, whereas CricKet charges $5 for the feature on the same-tier plan...

Of course, CricKet doesn't compete unless it has to. Elsewhere, what costs $25 on Pocket costs $35 on CricKet, and the $10 price gap goes all the way up to the $50 plan on CricKet. The $55 plan is still the $45 ($35 on Pocket) option but with 100 minutes of roaming, and the $60 plan adds another 100 minutes of roaming. Personally though, I'd buy a Page Plus Cellular phone and pay less per minute for roaming than it costs on any of the unlimited carriers. Or maybe program Page Plus into NAM2 of the unlimited phone so I just hit a few buttons to switch over to working off the other network.

...and no, I don't know why the Motorola v265 refurb'd phone isn't offered in the San Antonio area but is sold elsewhere...

Anyway, CricKet looks to be expanding further into South Texas soon, on regular 1900MHz spectrum. On the expansion list are Pocket territories such as Laredo, McAllen and Brownsville, as well as totally different cities like Beaumont and Corpus Christi. Look for heated competition with Pocket Communications soon...

MetroPCS and CricKet, Meet Vegas and Oklahoma City!

Looks like 2006's AWS spectrum purchases are finally being used.

CricKet's Oklahoma City coverage, with a whopping 98 cell sites, five corporate-owned stores and 58 other vending locations for the service, will turn into flat-rate cell service on April 8th.

MetroPCS, on the other hand, is already selling their 1700MHz-powered service in Las Vegas, both online and at sixty different retail points, with four corporate stores opening in July.

What's interesting is that MetroPCS has slimmed down their phone lineup considerably on its regular offerings over the last week or so, with a few more subtractions that I saw today. The price on the two lowest-end phones, the Samsung r300 and the UTStarCom 1450 (aka Super Slice), may have dropped a bit, to $109 and $129 respectively, but there were phones as low as $89 before...and the lineup is now slimmed to ten phone models.

At least the lineup seems to be slimmed until you actually try to buy a phone, at which point the three new phone models that are built for the new AWS service MetroPCS has in Vegas show up, for thirteen total models for all "regular" areas and three (yep, just three, but it's a start) for the new AWS area.

There are two $99 phones, the Samsung Spex Bluetooth bar phone and the UTStarCom 7126 Bluetooth-enabled flip. $50 more gets you a 1.3 megapixel cameraphone, also with Bluetooth (the Samsung MyShot, which is otherwise quite basic).  Yes, you'll be seeing these same phones on CricKet (with the possible addition of the Motorola Razr v3s) when their AWS service comes out in a little over a week, and yes I have a hunch about the Bluetooth capability coinciding with handsfree laws or something like that. Plus, if you've got a Bluetooth phone then MetroPCS can sell you another $35-$50 accessory...

In other news, MetroPCS seems to have discontinued the Chinese-made phones from ZTE and Huawei, I'm supposing due to customer non-brand-awareness and rather low quality. Pretty quick run, I'd say, for a phone on the market. CricKet still has the CompCal EZ in its lineup, but I'll bet they'll drop it soon with the quality concerns people have been\will be voicing, in addition to the utter lack of features on the unit. Plus, it can't do AWS.

More AWS news coming on the 8th, maybe sooner but definitely on the 8th, when CricKet launches their service "4 realz" in Oklahoma City...

...WAIT! Looks like CricKet will also be getting into the Las Vegas area cell-service-wise. This will be intersting to watch, since MetroPCS and CricKet have tended to avoid each other when deciding where to put their cell service. We'll see what happens...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spex and MyShot Info Pages

Just thought I'd pass these on, since PhoneScoop does a good job of making phone fact pages and they just put 'em up for the Spex and MyShot from Samsung. Looks like both are headed for both MetroPCS and CricKet, to be expected since both  have 1700 MHz spectrum and both are unlimited carriers with similar plans, pricing, etc.

CricKet Meets Samsung Spex and Samsung MyShot

One is a basic bar hone, thin and Bluetooth-enabled, for $120. One is a flip phone with a 1.3 megapixel camera for $150. Both are Samsung. Both use AWS (the new frequency that CricKet will be rolling out soon in Tulsa and other places). Both are coming to CricKet tomorrow. Check 'em out when they do.

Monday, March 24, 2008

MetroPCS Gets Blue in the Tooth, plus some Spex

First off, there's a promo running on MetroPCS. Buy a Motorola phone and get a Motorola headset for free. Or get a $50 Visa card when you buy a Moto phone and either Motorola's Bluetooth headphones or their Bluetooth speakerphone. So effectively you' be getting a speakerphone for $30 or Bluetooth headphones for $60...and good headphones at that. Dedent deal if you ask me.

They've also discontinued the UTStarcom 7025, looks like, though their model line isn't going to keep shrinking. The Samsung Spex, a thin little bar phone with AWS (1700 MHz frequency) support, should be out relatively soon, and it seems like an upgrade to the 7025. At least it's thinner and AWS-capable...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Motorola v3s, likely headed to CricKet

Looks like another Razr cheapo edition is headed to an unlimited carrier near you. The Motorola v3s, found here via PhoneScoop's FCC lookup tool, might have a larger screen than the v3a (or then again it might not...I'm lousy comparing sizes of things), and has a cool-looking finish on it similar to the v3xx on GSM\HSDPA networks, but it seems like there are no other additional features on this phone...aside from the 1700MHz AWS band into which CricKet is expanding their network. Hey at least this tri-band CDMA phone is relatively high-end, as opposed to the Chinese phones, plus the UTStarCom one, that have so far been spotted making their way through the FCC and ultimately onto the CricKet network...