Saturday, November 17, 2012

Smartphone Hunting: Laura's got a new phone

I jumped into the smartphone pool with a fairly new service that offers what I think may be the best deal that's available for someone like me. Ask me again in a year if I still think so, but for the moment... I'm impressed.

First, another shout out to Credo Mobile, who surprised me with an offer of a free smartphone and monthly discounts for my earlier mention of them. In the end I decided to go a different way but if I'm not satisfied with my new service, Credo is at the top of my list.

I was reluctantly starting to think Eric and I could do best by "upgrading" at our current carrier Verizon Wireless when I learned two things that changed my mind.

The first is that the local EMS uses the Sprint network when they aren't using short-range radios. That suggests that the coverage is definitely good enough for me.

The second I found on HowardForums. A little background, when I bought the LG VX8300 I checked the reviews on that forum and knew exactly what to expect and how to properly hack my phone. The users there are intelligent and helpful. I was still researching prepaid plans when I found this thread and started to look through the options listed there. I passed over the unfamiliar names at first, then I looked a second time and saw Ting (note: this is a referral link). Ting runs on the Sprint network.

Now, I'm very much in favor of paying for what you use... and Ting is all about paying for what you use. Further, it tells you exactly how much you use (and there's even an app for it!). And if you don't use anything, you don't pay for anything more than the base phone charge... which is only $6.

But here's the awesome bit. If I don't use as much as I prepay for, they will give me credit on my next bill. And if I use more than I expected, they'll just ask me to make up the difference in the next bill instead of cutting me off or charging penalties or something. So, although I'm paying ahead of time for my next month, I'll only get charged for what I actually use and I don't have to worry about going over because I won't be penalized, I'll just make up the difference. It sounds too good to be true, but the company has a lot of loyal customers.

The services are divided into voice minutes, text messages and data. You can use only data one month or only voice next, or use all three services to excess, and only pay for what you use. The potential is there to save a lot of money.

There's no contract, so if I suddenly decide I don't like the service, I just don't pay them (and cancel online after telling them what went wrong, since I'm a good person). Easy as pie.

After hitting about a dozen other sites to see what they said about Ting, I was very intrigued. So, using a referral link I ordered a cheap smartphone (LG Optimus S, Purple) and waited for it to arrive so I could give the service a try.

In the meantime, I researched as much as I could about Android, since I was pretty happy I would be getting Android instead of iOS. I learned that this particular phone runs best on Gingerbread, and that I would most likely need to root it to get enough disk space to run apps I would want.

I activated the phone two days ago, but didn't get a chance to root it until last night. I went through a fun little process which I will soon post here, simply because I plan on getting Eric his own phone and going through the process again.

I'm using it mostly with the mobile data turned off and using wifi instead. I also only just sent my first text message. I will probably port my old Verizon Wireless number to this one once I've got all my contacts moved over. There must be a way to import them...

Anyway, I'm very happy with the plan at the moment, but again, ask me in a year how I feel about it. In the meantime, if you are daring enough to want to give it a try as well, here's a $25 off referral link.