Sunday, January 6, 2008

And we're back...with a phone overview of various unlimited carriers...

First off, sorry for the long hiatus. Maybe this time I'll actually keep this site going :). Unlimited carriers, please make life interesting. First off, I'm going to do a quick look at the various phone deals, non-deals and new kids on the block from what I consider to be the "big four" unlimited carriers: CricKet and MetroPCS, plus northern-based Revol and Texas-based Pocket.

On MetroPCS, the larget unlimited carrier, phone selection is actually halfway decent, with thirteen phones to pick from, two of which are the same model, just different colors. On the cheap end, the old UTStarCom 7025 shares the $89 price point with the new Nokia 2135. I'll take the Nokia, thanks...Nokia always makes good phones, and at this price point whatever you get will be for talk and a little text only anyway...not that MetroPCS has any texting phones anyhow.

Go down to the $119 looks interestingly familiar. Yes, that's the Virgin Mobile Super Slice with a different skin. Should be a decent phone, and a worth $20 upgrade from the Nokia 2135. Or if you want a flip phone the Motorola w385 seems to be a solid pick, at $149. But wait...isn't that a Razr for just $179. Well, sorta...the v3a doesn't even have EV-DO or a 1.3 megapixel camera, so it's basically a CDMA version of the original V3 on Cingular (now AT&T). But hey, whatever floats your boat...

Then you get into a bunch of Samsung phones. In addition to the newly-announced, low-end, cameraless r300, the r400 slider...and the QWERTY-powered r410. I take that back about metroPCS not having any texting phones. Oh, and it is a slide-out design, which I prefer to the fli-open Kyocera take on texting. Less stuff to break. Plus Samsung makes better phones than Kyocera...that's why...wait...the Kyocera E2000 doesn't deserve to be priced alongside the Samsung u520...even if it is a little thinner. Heck, I'd actually be satisfied with either of the $199 MetroPCS phones, particularly if they combined the texting prowess of one with the music power of the other.

Last but not least, you get the $299 Motorola Rokr slider z6m, part of the Rizr-type slider phones from Motorola. Okay, maybe the Motorola name, plus the music-playing abilities and the slim slider formfactor are worth $100 over a flip phone from Samsung that can do just as much, but I'm not convined. I would be convinced though if the Kyocera was the only $200 option ;)

On to CricKet, with their mere eleven phones...

KRZR for $190? Good price, but been there. At least CricKet still sells such a high-end flip. Razr v3c for $140? At least it's better than the MetroPCS v3a for more. Rokr z6m for $280 vs. $299 on it. Kyocera K132 and Moto w315...been there, done that. UTStarCom least it's a little newer than the 7025. Okay, a lot newer, and it looks better. One light pat on the back to CricKet. Now to snore through the Kyocera K323...and wake up to the non-spectacular, though rather thin, UTStarCom Mini. The impressive Nokia 6275i, which is of course out of stock at the good price of $180, and the Virgin Mobile Wild Lingo...rounds out the package at $180 as well. Hmm, the Rokr and the Razr are out of stock, and so is the UTS 7026. Of course, considering that the Razr is inexpensive, and the 7026 is both inexpensive and new-looking, as opposed to the lousy Kyo K132. Wonder why the z6m is out of stock though...maybe they only got an order of 100 in for their customer base. ;)

Moving into the bargain wait, this is Revol's offering on phones. Yeah, the Great Lakes carrier that has the $67, $57, $47, $37 and $27 unlimited plans. Anyhow, their phones, ranging from the freebie Kyocera KX444s, LG 3200s, LG 4400s and Samsung a650s, to the respectively more expensive Kyo K132s, Moto e815s, Kyo K322s, Moto v323i's, and Kyocera Strobes, seem to be priced with no paticular regard to features, and all include potentially nasty mail-in rebates. They also contain traces of old, or just plain unfit-to-use-as-a-phone-ness. I'm talking about the K132 on this last point...the v323i is a fine phone, as is the e815. They've just been around awhile. If you're wondering if the situation improves on the high end, it doesn't. The $179 Motorola SLVR L7c and the $229 Razr v3m are nothing new. Not even close. *snore*

Last but not least, there's Pocket Communications. THe Kyocera K132 and Audiovox 8615 are respectively lousy and outdated, and they as a matter of course sit at the low end of the price range: $79. Along with the $74-after-rebate Kyocera Milan. After rebate (if there is one), four more phones weigh in at $119 or less, including the decent LG 4270 and Motorola w315, as well as the lower-quality Kyocera KX16 Candid. I can't vouch for the last phone, the exclusive-to-Pocket, Bluetooth cameraphone Kyocera K342. New to Pocket is the LG 245, also available currently with Alltel and in the past with Verizon. It looks to be, at its $149 price point, color external display and Bluetooth capability, a worthy successor to the LG 5000, which was a year and a half older. Not that the 245 is new or anything...this phone looks to be about a year and a half old, with the FCC filing dated April 3, 2006.

The last three of the eleven Pocket phones are typical: the Motorola v323i at $170, the now-outdated Kyocera Strobe for $200, and the Razr v3m for $260. Sure, none of the phones are new but a fair number of them are decent, and the high price for a phone is offset by the low price of the actual plans, with unlimited local calling, plus text and picture messaging, clocking in at a mere $25. For $30 you get long distance. For $35 you get all the regular calling eatures, and for $40 you get web access and 411. $40 is still rather feature-less on MetroPCS, CricKet and Revol. So the high phone price can be forgiven. Oh, and there's a Pocket family plan, but I need content for another post...

Hope this helps, and welcome back to a new year of UnlimitedCellular. Hopefully it is more active than last year.

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