9. Comparison of Prepaid Companies’ Phones & Plans
Comparison of Android vs. iPhone.
There are many non-smartphones in the prepaid world; in fact, until 2010, it was nearly unimaginable for a prepaid plan to offer a Smartphone. Today, that scenario has done a complete 180: smartphones are mandatory for prepaid companies to compete with the Big-4 contract companies.
What makes a wireless fone a smartphone? It can download software and offers full internet capability, as if you’re using a computer, in addition to performing all other data tasks.
In the chart below, each company listed across the top is a clickable link to go to the company’s site. See the notes below the chart for elaboration. All prices have the idiotic $0.99 on the end, which I have omitted as a protest against such stupidity. This page last updated June 6, 2011.
In June 2011, LightYear became the first prepaid company to carry the top of the line phones offered by one of the big-4 carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile). In other words, those 4 have not shared their smartphones with any non-contract plan until now. Furthermore, of those 4, other than Sprint, only AT&T has introduced a smartphone into its prepaid ‘GoPhone’ brand (in the graph below, on the far right). Sprint offers 3 smartphones thru the two prepaid brands it owns, Boost & Virgin, but it’s breaking barriers with the LightYear arrangement, because LightYear is a wholesale partner with Sprint, but a completely separate company.
|HTC Evo Shift (A)||July||—-||—-||—-||—-||—-||—-|
|HTC Hero (A)||$314||—-||—-||—-||—-||—-||—-|
|Samsung Transform (A)||$249||—-||—-||$309 a||—-||$299 b||—-|
|LG Optimus (A)||$139||—-||$199||$179||—-||$149||$179 c|
|Sanyo Zio (A)||$199||—-||—-||$139||—-||—-
|Samsung Intercept (A)||$224¥||—-||$179||—-||—-||—-|
|Samsung Prevail (A)||—-||$179||—-||—-||—-||—-
|Huawei Ascend (A)||—-||—-||—-||$99||—-||$169||—-|
|BB Curve 8530 (B)||—-||$179||$179||$229||—-||$199||—-|
|BB Curve 8330 (B)||$49*||—-||—-||—-||—-||—-||—-|
|Samsung Code (W)||—-||—-||—-||—-||—-
|Nokia E71 & 6790 (N)||—-||—-||—-||—-||$189 d||—-||—-|
|Total # of Phones||15||21||6||12||16||16||25|
There are currently 4 types of Smartphone OS available in prepaid: (A) Android, (B) Blackberry, (N) Nokia (which is Symbian), (W) Windows Mobile.
Phones above are listed in order of value, based on both price and ratings. Different models are grouped with phones based on similarities.
“MIR“=Mail-In Rebate amounts below have not been subtracted from the prices above, so prices above will be lower after MIR is redeemed.
LY = LightYear (Wholesaler for Sprint, not owned by Sprint): ¥= I recommend avoiding this fone, based on overwhelmingly bad reviews. *= Refurbished (used); the BB Curve 8530 is the latest “Curve II,” and the BB Curve 8330 is the original Curve.
The “Cost/Month” is for smartphone plans with unlimited talk/text/web. Unfortunately, most of the carriers have all kinds of fine print on their actual costs, so what we’re doing below is exposing the fine print and all costs, in order to compare similar features.
|Unlimited Talk/Text||Yes||Yes b||Yes c||Yes||Yes f||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Unlimited Data||Yes||Yes h||No||No||No||Yes h
|Data Limit||None||??||2.5GB||1GB d||?? g||??||2GB||400MB|
|Nationwide Network||Yes||Yes~||Yes||No e||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|# of Smartphones+||6||2||3||4||2||5||1||1|
|Free Service Available?||Yes||No^||No||No||No||No||No||No|
Plans above are listed in order of phone value from the first chart, based on both price and ratings.
+= See Phones chart above for list of smartphones for each company.
LY = LightYear (Sprint)
OS & TETHERING INFO
Our smartphones have the following OS (operating systems), with PDANet tethering software links for your help:
- Android (Google) OS – HTC Hero, Samsung Transform, LG Optimus, Sanyo Zio (PDANet for Android)
- Blackberry (RIM) OS – BB Curve (PDANet for BB)
- Windows Mobile (Microsoft) OS – Palm Treo (PDANet for WinM) (even tho it’s a palm, it runs WinMobile)
- Palm (now owned by HP) OS – Palm Centro (PDANet for Palm)
- I checked online: google “samsung instinct tethering” – several sites and Youtube videos tell you how to hack thru the Samsung Instinct’s OS (Samsung’s own OS) to setup tethering, but I haven’t done it.
The two that are easiest to setup for tethering are the Android and WinMobile – the OS on both is for computing, whereas the RIM and Palm are designed for cell fones only (altho the Palm OS is very easy to sync/connect with computers, in my experience).