1. Are you ready for the Galaxy S20? Here is everything we know so far!

VM Recommendations?

Discussion in 'Virgin Mobile' started by SpartanCat, Aug 15, 2012.

  1. SpartanCat

    SpartanCat Newbie
    Thread Starter

    I apologize in advance for the length of the post. I put it in the device/carrier forum yesterday but didn't get a response and I'm impatient lol

    I am currently on a family plan with ATT but due to cost reasons we are all switching. I cannot head to MetroPCS with them since I live in the Chicago area, outside of the home service area.

    For cost reasons, I am looking at prepaid services, particularly virgin mobile, t-mobile, straighttalk, cricket, and boost mobile. Their "unlimited" plans all seem to be around the same amount so I was hoping for some real experiences to help me decide. Data speed isn't a huge issue as I would be mostly using email, facebook and games and stuff. No plans to start downloading or streaming. If you have a second and could answer some or all of the following questions, it would be much much much appreciated!

    Would you recommend Virgin Mobile it to a friend? Have you had any of the other services, and how did you feel about them?

    How good is the signal/coverage? Bonus points if you're in the Chi area.

    Is the customer service really as lousy as I'm reading for all of them? Has this caused you to leave VM? Or leave another service for VM?

    As I have never had a phone plan of my own, I'm afraid some intricate catch is going to trip me up. Are there hidden things I should be concerned about or aware of? A lot of the lingo is beyond me, even in the forum posts I've been reading. For example, Cricket I think said they had unlimited data but then when you looked at the details of the plan, it said the data was $1 per 50mb or something like that. So I'm confused.

    How does roaming work? Does service just stop, or does it cost more? How do additional charges work if it's prepaid?

    How much should one expect in taxes and fees?

    Can you take your phone number with you? Is it difficult to do?

    Is it worth it to switch to a prepaid or just deal with one of the big carriers?

    If anyone has ANY comments, tips, tricks, suggestions, etc, you'll be my best friend forever lol
    Also, any thoughts on a mid to low range android would be awesome.
    Thank you in advance!!!
     



    1. Download the Forums for Android™ app!


      Download

       
  2. mogelijk

    mogelijk Android Expert

    Since you are on AT&T, Straight Talk may be a good option for you as it will allow you to keep your current AT&T phone, if you can unlock it. You merely need to order a Straight Talk AT&T SIM card (in some areas you can choose AT&T or T-Mobile) for your current phone to sign up for their $45 unlimited plan. They throttle after about 2 GB of data, or 200 MB in a day, and have been known to drop service of those that frequently exceed those limits; from what you describe, that shouldn't be an issue for you.

    Virgin Mobile runs off of Sprint's network, so coverage is not as good nationwide as AT&T. Also, in some areas, Sprint has problems with too many users on their 3G networks, causing very slow data speeds. It doesn't look like Chicago is as bad as some other areas (based on PCMag's Fastest Mobile Networks 2012 article) but it can vary based on where you use your phone. As Sprint rolls out Network Vision, the overcrowding should improve. If you buy a "4G" phone (using WiMax for 4G), Virgin Mobile currently is not throttling data over 4G); on 3G they throttle after 2.5GB. At the same time, there have been complaints about text messaging on their only 4G phone (at least currently the only phone, see the Evo V 4G forum); there is a rumor of a new Samung 4G phone to be announced next week on the 22nd). Customer Service seems to be rather typical for mobile; first level support is in Asia and can vary greatly depending on the tech's knowledge, upper levels of support are better.

    Boost, though it has its own plans and policies, essentially is similar in network and customer service to Virgin Mobile, as both are owned by Sprint. It seems many people switch between Boost and Virgin based on which carrier has the phone they want; though Virgin Mobile does have some less expensive plans ($35) for those that don't need unlimited minutes.

    I don't have much experience with Cricket. I do know they offer an unlimited plan that includes unlimited data, throttled about 2.3GB, for either $45 or $55 -- I believe the separate data charge is on a cheaper plan that does not include unlimited data. Their network is limited mostly to major cities.

    T-Mobile has the cheapest plan, but that plan only gives you 100 minutes; though it does give unlimited data, throttled at 5GB. Additional minutes on that plan are $.10/minute. They also have unlimited talk plans for $50 and $60, though they don't come with nearly as much data (the $50 only gives you 200MB of data before throttling). You could use your current AT&T phone, if unlocked, on T-Mobile except that T-Mobile needs a frequency that typically isn't found on AT&T phones, which would limit you to essentially 2G speeds.

    Typically, you don't get roaming with prepaid phones -- you only get phone service where they have coverage (check their coverage maps). In some areas you might only have phone service, no data, and some (mostly rural areas) you might have neither phone nor data.

    Prepaid plans typically are pretty simple. Two things you need to look at. First, as I mentioned above, you can buy plans that have a limited number of talk minutes; which can be a good deal depending on how much you talk on your phone. Typically, if you go over the minutes your plan gives you (both T-Mobile and VM), you can "buy" extra minutes at $.10/minute. You likely won't be warned you are out of minutes, instead (as long as you have money in your account) they will just remove 10 cents for every minute (or partial minute) you spend on phone calls.

    Unlimited data is not actually "unlimited". They give you a certain amount of data (typically around 2.5GB) at full speed, then they throttle your data service down to 2G speeds. If you look, it is typically relatively easy to find when they throttle (in the fine print). Texts are typically unlimited on these plans, as they are technically data; and small enough that even throttling won't effect texting.

    You will have a way to check your talk and data usage, either on the web and/or through an app on the phone.

    Typically there aren't extra charges on pre-paid plans. The ones I can think of are is that most carriers will offer to allow you to use your phone as a WiFi hotspot for $10 or $15/month and they offer phone insurance on new phones. These are charged each month when you renew your plan.

    Typically, with prepaid plans, you only pay sales tax. Typically you need to put money into your prepaid account prior to your month charge hitting your account. When you buy a prepaid card or add money directly via credit card, you will be charged sales tax (so, if you add $30, they will charge you $30+local taxes). When your plan is charged, the cell company merely deducts the plan cost from your account -- and most companies (at least the ones I know of) only charge the plan cost with no taxes or extra fees.

    You can take your number with you for no cost, when you start service you can call customer service and ask them to port your number. They'll just want the information from your old plan.

    Prepaid is, IMHO, the best way to go. There are some disadvantages, such as the lack of roaming. OTOH, even buying a phone upfront, you pay far less than you do with a free phone on a contract plan. For example, this article has a chart showing the cost difference between what you pay for their service vs. other companies (using their cheapest plan).

    As for advice, talk to friends in your area to find out how their phones work. Again, VM and Boost are Sprint and Straight Talk will use AT&T or T-Mobile (for smartphones) to see how their speeds and coverage are. The various plans are only as good as the coverage you get in the areas you want to use your phone.

    Also, examine the plans and look at your current usage. Again, if you can live with 100 minutes (or close to that, since you can go over at 10 cents a minute), T-Mobile has the cheap $30 plan with 5GB data (before throttling). If you need more, but can live with 300 minutes, there is the Virgin Mobile plan for $35 with 2.5GB data (before throttling, and unlimited if you have 4G). Of course, only use these plans if you actually will use less than that and if that provider has good coverage where you are going to use the phone.

    As for phones, choose your mobile provider first, then look at what phones they have available. Once you find the mobile provider and plan you want, then you might ask for recommendations in that forum for the best phone in your price range. T-Mobile and Straight Talk have an advantage, as you can use any unlocked phone that will work on their network; you aren't limited to the phones they offer for sale.

    Last, if you have questions about plans that you don't understand (especially as you get closer to finding the provider you want), ask on these forums.
     
    SpartanCat likes this.
  3. SpartanCat

    SpartanCat Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Holy helpful, Batman. Thank you so much! I will take a closer look at this when I get home.
    One question, I keep seeing the word throttling. What does that mean?
     
  4. mogelijk

    mogelijk Android Expert

    Throttling means that they slow down your data speeds. So, where you might typically get 2500 kbps (2.5 mpbs) speeds, once you hit the limit they will slow down your speeds to something closer to 100 kbps (.1 mbps). Basically the speed is slowed down to the point that you can no longer stream music or video, web browsing is very slow, but still can text and get email (though pictures will be slow to download).
     
  5. Petrah

    Petrah Psychotic Female

    I'm right outside of Chicago in the burbs of Hanover Park. I get outstanding T-Mobile coverage here, whereas when I was on VM USA my connection went from being good to nonexistent. This problem began right after they introduced their "4G". Dunno if it was overcrowding or what.

    After being with VM USA for a few years, I would not recommend them to anyone. Although I would recommend the Optimus V as it's got to be one of the best low end Android phones I've ever had. Too bad it's on such a crap carrier.

    T-Mobile ($30 a month prepaid, 100 minutes, 5GB data. GrooveIP for free phone calls so I never use my minutes) very very very pleased with them. Especially since there are physical T-Mobile stores all over the place. I would much rather deal with a real person than tech support over the phone (VM USA tech support is pure hell.. on a good day if you can manage to get someone who comes close to speaking English).
     
    SpartanCat likes this.
  6. mistichunter

    mistichunter Well-Known Member

    i wouldnt pay 20$ dolars extra for 2 more gigs. ill stick with my 35$ a month plan anyways i use my houses wifi.
     
  7. SpartanCat

    SpartanCat Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Thanks for all the comments, guys.

    I'm not as concerned with keeping my phone as it is a Pantech Ease and, though it was perfectly adequate when I first purchased it, has gone downhill to the point that half the time it's hardly functional and the format, in the few times I've gotten on the web, is just a headache for data usage. Plus, my work phone is an HTC and once you know what you're missing, it's hard to stick with the cheap stuff lol.

    Unfortunately, all of my family lives out of state so the unlimited minutes and especially texts are a priority.

    As to data, is there a way to guesstimate how much data you can expect to use to better know what cap for throttling would be appropriate? I really don't know how to gauge it.

    Petrah - Can you possibly explain GrooveIP in a little more detail?
    *Waves* I'm in the south suburbs near Orland.
     
  8. MacFett

    MacFett Android Expert

    Normally, Google Voice uses your cell minutes to make calls. GrooveIP is an app that allows you to use Google Voice over Wi-Fi or 3G.
     
    SpartanCat likes this.
  9. mogelijk

    mogelijk Android Expert

    As for a phone, I love the Galaxy Nexus and know that Petrah would also recommend it (we left VM about the same time, both going to T-Mobile with the GNex). At $350 from Google Play, it is not a cheap phone, but it has the specs that will compare well with your work phone. The biggest advantage of the Nexus is, since you are buying it directly from Google, it has no bloatware (carrier added software) and is first to get new versions of Android. It also will work on T-Mobile or Straight Talk.

    How much data you use depends on how many hours per day you will actively use your phone and if you will stream music or video. AT&T and Verizon both have calculators to help you determine how much data you will use. And, if you have access to WiFi at home or work, data use on WiFi is not going to count against your data totals.

    GrooveIP is an app that lets you make phone calls over your Internet connection using Google Voice, this way the phone calls don't count against your plan minutes.

    There are a couple of ways to set it up. In my case, I spend most of my day with a WiFi connection, so I only have GrooveIP on when connected to WiFi and use my minutes when I'm out. You can also make it so, even when using data, GrooveIP handles your phone calls. The downside is the phone call is only as good as your data connection, so while it works well on WiFi, a lot of people don't like using it when using the phones data (especially on VM).

    GrooveIP costs $4.99 from the Play store to purchase, once purchased there are no other charges no matter how many calls you make.
     
    Petrah and SpartanCat like this.
  10. SpartanCat

    SpartanCat Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Though I love the thought of avoiding bloatware, $350 is way steep for me to pay for a phone, unfortunately. As our contract ends with ATT on the 20th, I may need to make a decision on my service soon. I'm glad you mentioned that I can unlock my current phone. Though I hate it, it does send and receive calls so it may just have to do until I can afford a phone to take advantage of the data plan.

    GrooveIP sounds like a great system. My home internet is not wireless so I feel like I would need to get a router to make it worth it.

    Thanks again for everyone's opinions and suggestions!
     
  11. Petrah

    Petrah Psychotic Female

    SpartanCat likes this.
  12. SpartanCat

    SpartanCat Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Thanks for your suggestions guys.
    I'm thinking I'm probably going to go with TMobile (I feel silly continuing this conversation in the Virgin Mobile board. Should I start a new one?) Though I'd love the Galaxy Nexus $350 is just a bit steep for me. T Mobile has a couple samsung phones, do you have any thoughts on these?
    Galaxy Exhibit 4G
    Galaxy S 4 G
    They're both still a little over what I want to spend but I'm going to have to make a compromise. Any thoughts would, again, be much appreciated.
    Thanks!
     
  13. euphan1555

    euphan1555 Android Enthusiast


    I had a exhibit 4g for 8 months and imo its a great little
    phone.the last time I looked on T-Mobile.com it was 180 and came with a $50 phone card.you could also look for use T-Mobile phones on craigslist.that's where I sold mine for $85.I also found out that day that the Wal-Mart family value plan sim works with locked. t mobile phones. If you do start looking for used phones keep in mind a lot of people still call the exhibit 4g the exhibit 2 4g.T-Mobile changed the name during a upgrade 2 months ago.
     
    SpartanCat likes this.
  14. mogelijk

    mogelijk Android Expert

    I'd recommend a new thread on the T-Mobile board, as the people there would have the best advice on possible phones. Unfortunately, I have no experience with the T-Mobile phones, so cannot give you advice on them.

    I'll also agree that, if you can find a good used phone, it might get you a better phone for less. The only caution I would add is to check the IMEI of the phone you want to buy with T-Mobile to ensure it is a "good" phone (not reported lost or stolen).
     
    SpartanCat likes this.
  15. Kamau

    Kamau Android Expert

  16. MacFett

    MacFett Android Expert

    For $69.99 a month.
     
  17. Kamau

    Kamau Android Expert

    For reliable service, which Sprint does not provide in my area. There's a whole section of my city where you can't even use Boost or VM indoors. It's funny sometimes to a whole section of people on their front yards using their phones.
     
  18. euphan1555

    euphan1555 Android Enthusiast


    I see sprint losing a lot of customers when it launches.I'm not sure about vm though since its post paid.I'm still waiting for metro to put up the LG motion and the $55 plan so I can switch to that.I am very glad to see t mobile going back to unlimited data.maybe that will force the other ones to follow if they start losing customers.
     
  19. aurora40

    aurora40 Android Enthusiast

    It may depend on your area, but I'd 2nd this. For me, VM was terrible. I sometimes didn't have voice at home, and the data was really inconsistent which resulted in really poor battery life. Moving to T-Mobile was great for me, better data, better voice coverage, and a much better device (GNex).

    There are variants of the Optimus One (Optimus V) for about every carrier in the US: LG Optimus One - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia So if you like that phone, there are lots of carrier choices.

    To the original post, if you mainly want voice, and good coverage, you should consider Page Plus Cellular. They run on Verizon, so they have great nationwide coverage. 1,200 minutes and 100MB of data are $30/month. Ten more dollars and you have unlimited minutes.

    You will want to get a used Verizon phone, generally speaking, if you go with Page Plus. They sell a few android phones, but they are very low-end.
     
  20. mistichunter

    mistichunter Well-Known Member

    well if ur outside of city limits service its not that good indoors if u r outside the city limits.
     
Loading...
Similar Threads - Recommendations
  1. Eyes Fit
    Replies:
    2
    Views:
    448
  2. MoodyBlues
    Replies:
    38
    Views:
    1,080
  3. willsp28
    Replies:
    3
    Views:
    336
  4. mikedt
    Replies:
    3
    Views:
    401
  5. ntsn99
    Replies:
    0
    Views:
    940
  6. braingames131
    Replies:
    1
    Views:
    535
  7. RASelkirk
    Replies:
    5
    Views:
    507
  8. Patrick Henry
    Replies:
    6
    Views:
    850
  9. kmonroe99
    Replies:
    3
    Views:
    675
  10. Oncebittentwicebitten
    Replies:
    9
    Views:
    831

Share This Page

Loading...