Okay, $39.99 gosh darn it. At prices this low a penny just might matter. The phone? The Motorola v262. CricKet probably would ave charged $29.99 for the phone, but it took $10 per phone to dig them up out of the basement and blow all the dust off of 'em. This little guy is OLD!
Not so with Pocket Communications. Their Kyocera Lingo M1000 (also seen on CricKet and on Virgin Mobile, the latter as the Slice) is out and ready to rumble at a mere $199.99. Okay, that's expensive, but we're taking about non-contract, unlimited, dirt-cheap service here. The cheapest alternative to Pocket that doesn't cost that much for a phone is Sprint, with their $50 LG Rumor and $100 price point. With taxes, the difference between the two plans would run around $65 per month. Discounting the possible fact that the LG Rumor is a bit better than the Kyocera, you would have to roam out of Pocket's service area for around 90 minutes of usage every month in order to make up for the price differential between it and Sprint...and we're comparing the cheapest unlimited plan on a national carrier here.
Okay, I'm on Sprint, and I take advantage of Sprint-only features like PDA phones, EV-DO internet, etc. I also don't have an unlimited plan.
Speaking of not having unlimited plans, in case anyone was wondering about anything else Sprint had, their minute-limited plans can get the same feature bundle as the unlimited everything $100 plan for $30 on top of the regular monthly charge, making all those extra data features "worth" $20 if you're on a regular plan or $10 on top of the unlimited plan. The unlimited plan of which I speak, in comparison to the $100 one, is the $90 deal, which has "sister" plans (minute limited) at $10 per month above the bare minimum plans that are voice only. Which places the effective voice-only cost of Sprint's unlimited plan at a cool $80, as much as $20 below the competition. Though Sprint's add-a-line feature is funky when you compare it with regular plans...until you figure out that you pick any combination of full plans, not some lame service-fee-for-no-minutes addon. Slick, to say the least. But anyway, on to Page Plus...
...who can be cheapened even more than $2.49 per day. In Ohio, Florida and Michigan it can go all the way down to a juicy $1.99 per day, blowing ALL unlimited plans out of the water as far as national coverage goes, at around $60 per month. What you don't get as a result of the $40 (or $25 elsewhere) less you pay per month is free roaming; it's 59 cents per minute. I'd say get a Tracfone for that. Incidentally, the $60 unlimited plan decreases the "cost efficiency threshold" between a regular Page Plus plan and unlimited to about 1000-1100 minutes per month, depending on whether you're in February (lear year or not), March or April, etc.
But wait, it gets even better. If you feel like playing the system, you can get unlimited minutes for next to nuthin' in the scheme of things: activate your phone on a normal plan, stock up on $80 Page Plus refills (preferably at a discount from a place like Callingmart.com) and then convert over to unlimited. You will take a $20 hit as an activation fee for the unlimited plan, and you will still have to add money to your account every four months to keep your service active, but by the Page Plus "funny money" $80 counts as $168 toward your balance on the regular Page Plus plan. This effectively halves the cost of unlimited calling while you're still eating away at that balance, as well as doing the same thing for text messaging and roaming, respectively beinging those down to around 7 cents per message and 28 cents per minute. Maybe a little less...my calculator is sitting on my other monitor. The plan itself? Effectively $1.19 per day for most of the U.S. or about 95 cents per day if you're in the three-state discount-rate area.
That's right...if you work the system you can get nationwide unlimited for less than the price of the local unlimited plans. You can also get a phone for less than they charge you, and if you're in the tri-state cut-rate area everyone else is even greener with envy. Gotta love them loopholes, huh? Time to grab a Razr2 from eBay at he same price as you'd get one from the Verizon regular site, then stock up on several hundred dollars worth of Page Plus airtime cards ($800 worth should get you through a full two years of service...just add $10 cards every four months
and you've got it). Apply them, switch your plan and let the über minute cellular parté begin. Just don't tell anyone that texting is still halfway outrageous in price, and that internet is nonexistent. Just obnoxiously flash your phone around while loudly boasting that you didn't have to get on a contract to get all this, while everyone writes you off as a complete show-off, which you'd be at that point, but entirely justified in being so. :)