Not that long ago, using a smartphone with a prepaid phone service required jumping through a number of expensive and confusing hoops, but today that is changing. Today, half way through 2011, there are several smartphones available from prepaid services, which makes it easier for some users to upgrade to smartphone devices and more affordable, too.
There are currently a handful of Android-powered prepaid phones like the LG Thrive (shown left), LG Optiumus and Samsung Intercept. None of these handsets is particular cutting edge, but you can get each for less than $200 without being married to contract requirements and can save some serious cash over monthly contract plans.
The Android 2.2 LG Thrive from AT&T, for example, has an MSRP of $179 but is available for $149, and will work with AT&T’s upcoming $50 unlimited talk and text prepaid plan (begins June 26th). You will have to select a data plan, though, which range in price from $5 to $25. But $55 (with the lowest data package) is a pretty unbeatable monthly price for a smartphone user.
Other prepaid Android phones include the LG Optimus and Samsung Intercept, both from Virgin Mobile (Sprint). The Optimus ships with Android 2.2, and an update to 2.2 is now available for the Intercept if you get a unit with 2.1 installed. Unlimited talk, text and web is $60/month from Virgin.
So, it seems Verizon Wireless will join AT&T next month in killing off unlimited data plans for smartphones. According to tech sites AllThingsD and Droid Life, starting in early July (possibly as soon as July 7) Verizon will shift to tiered data plans for devices starting at $30 for 2GB of wireless data.
2GB of 3G/4G smartphone data is more than enough for most Android, iPhone and Windows Phone users, but this shift is yet another nail in the coffin of all-you-can-eat wireless carrier data. If true, this move would leave T-Mobile and Sprint as the only two service providers in the U.S. offering unlimited smartphone data; and if T-Mobile is absorbed by AT&T it’s not difficult to imagine Sprint being the last man standing – and they may go wobbly fast.
Existing Verizon customers appear to be safe; as long as they continue service without changing plans, it looks like they can keep their $30/month unlimited smartphone data plan. So if you want to move to Verizon – or upgrade to a smartphone as an existing Verizon customer – and want to lock-in unlimited data, you’d better move fast.
Whatever your feelings about Lady Gaga, you might want to consider adding her latest album to your collection. For a limited time, Amazon MP3 is offering Lady Gaga’s Born This Way for just $0.99, a purchase that gets you not only the fourteen tracks from the artist’s brand new album, but also an additional 20GB of music storage for Amazon Cloud Drive.
Amazon offers 5GB of Cloud Drive storage for free to all of its account holders, but you qualify for an additional 20GB of storage when when you purchase an album from Amazon MP3. This $1 purchase qualifies, bumping total cloud storage to 25GB. Music stored in the Cloud Drive can then be played on compatible devices (PCs, Macs, Android phones) via Amazon’s Cloud Player.
And, of course, if you’re already gaga for Gaga, you can save yourself about $11 by purchasing the album from Amazon rather than iTunes, where Born This Way sells for $11.99.
T-Mobile has just announced it has increased the speed of its ‘4G’ wireless data network to a theoretical 42 megabits per second (Mbps) in 55 U.S. markets. While this doesn’t mean much for smartphone users just yet, it is great news for laptop users who want faster internet access on their mobile PCs.
To go with the new data transfer speeds, T-Mobile is also launching a new 4G USB modem, the ZTE Rocket 3.0, which will go on sale tomorrow for $99 with a two-year contract (after a $50 mail-in rebate), $199 sans contract.
Smartphones with support for the new network speeds are certainly coming, though we don’t know anything definite on that point just yet. Stay tuned. It also should be noted that a “theoretical speed” is just that; real-world speeds will be slower, but we’ll have to wait to see just how much slower once the devices launch.
We’ve posted a list of the locations where the new data speeds are available after the jump.
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If you’re a fan of Google Voice and a Sprint wireless customer, today you have good reason to celebrate; Google and Sprint have joined together to give users unprecedented Google Voice customization on their mobile phones.
Here’s how it works: if you have a Sprint mobile phone, you can now choose to use your existing mobile number as your Google Voice number, or to have your Google Voice number take the place of your Sprint phone number. Whichever option you select, the number – when dialed – can be configured to ring multiple phones (your Sprint phone, home, office, vacation home, etc.) so you never miss a call. Google Voice voicemail service will replace the existing service, and the same basic Google Voice features remain such as transcribed voicemail, email and/or text message alerts, etc. International calls will also be made using your Google voice number for reduced per minute fees.
This service is compatible with all Sprint-branded handsets, including Sprint Android phones.
While the service is free, minutes used continue to be deducted from your monthly voice allotment. You must have a Google Voice account as well.
Learn more by visiting the Google Voice + Sprint web page or by taking a look at the video after the jump.
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