Author Topic: Best Cheap Cell Phone Plan?  (Read 2914 times)

Football750

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Best Cheap Cell Phone Plan?
« on: December 25, 2017, 06:30:51 PM »
My wife and I are considering switching to a lower cost cell phone plan (we currently use ATT go phones for $45 a month each). Does anybody recommend Cricket Wireless or another competitor like Consumer Cellular, etc? Thank you for the feedback! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays :)

Daley

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Re: Best Cheap Cell Phone Plan?
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2017, 07:20:16 PM »
No such thing as a one-size fits all "best cheap" phone plan. It really comes down to what you actually need, what you actually use, what network will serve you best in your area, what phones you have, and what you're willing to sacrifice.

If you want to go AT&T network coverage and there's no iPhone involvement, it's worth researching the following MVNOs: Consumer Cellular, Puretalk USA, Red Pocket, and H2O Wireless.

If iPhones are involved, the list from myself gets pared down to just Consumer Cellular.

Regarding Cricket specifically, this comes up from time to time, and though I won't argue against the point that one can save some money going with Cricket, there are other points of interest worth factoring in your decision on where you want to spend that money that you might want to consider. The most recent was just a couple days ago, so I'll just link you to the first post I made in Syonyk's thread for you to read as he asked a similar question.

If you'd like a more holistic approach to paring down your telecom costs, give the guide linked in my sigline a read. That's what it's there for and why it's stickied in the Share Your Badassity subforum.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Best Cheap Cell Phone Plan?
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2017, 07:34:56 PM »
What's the problem with PureTalk and iPhones?

Daley

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Re: Best Cheap Cell Phone Plan?
« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2017, 07:47:25 PM »
What's the problem with PureTalk and iPhones?

The same problem as iPhones and Airvoice, iPhones and H2O Wireless, iPhones and RedPocket, etc., etc. Apple locks you out of the MMS APN settings with any AT&T network-based SIM card and has done so since iOS7, thus utterly breaking MMS texting functionality on the device. This leaves you without access to any text messages over 160 characters long or with any media or file attachments sent by any other contact who doesn't also have an iPhone.

It's an AT&T MVNO/Apple specific thing, and any AT&T based MVNO not on Apple's approved carrier list will lose that core function.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Best Cheap Cell Phone Plan?
« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2017, 08:20:14 PM »
It looks like that's not an issue now that PT sells iPhones:
https://www.prepaidphonenews.com/2016/02/puretalk-usa-adds-iphone-6s-and-more.html

Daley

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Re: Best Cheap Cell Phone Plan?
« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2017, 08:36:19 PM »
It looks like that's not an issue now that PT sells iPhones:
https://www.prepaidphonenews.com/2016/02/puretalk-usa-adds-iphone-6s-and-more.html

Quote
The press release announcing the iPhone 6s/6s Plus availability and discounts also says "Those currently using an iPhone with PureTalk USA's service will have full, unrestricted access to iPhone device features." I think that means that MMS now works on iPhones without jailbreaking. I've asked PureTalk for confirmation and will update this post if when I hear back from them.

Dennis never heard back from them, but they did apparently announce as such in early 2016. That being said...

Quote from: PureTalkUSA
[...]we are a certified Apple carrier! iPhone MMS, visual voicemail, and hot spot features work with our service.

That's as of 09-18-2017, apparently. I missed that, never noticed the change, and as such is new news to me... so, my apologies. I never considered that they actually had MMS support just because they sold iPhones, because H2O has sold iPhones for years and they still don't have MMS support. But if that's true, given it's still not confirmed on the official Apple provider list, it's been a change that Apple has refused to endorse or mention for nearly two years at this point. If they're claiming official Apple support now, that's fantastic news! Too bad Apple isn't disclosing as such.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2017, 08:39:08 PM by Daley »

Paul der Krake

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Re: Best Cheap Cell Phone Plan?
« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2017, 08:50:59 PM »
Nice, this is a timely development as DW is about to receive a hand-me-down iPhone 6 and I was hoping to keep her on PT.

I noticed very few t-mobile MVNOs are one the Apple page. But MMS problems don't exist on those, right?

Daley

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Re: Best Cheap Cell Phone Plan?
« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2017, 09:11:25 PM »
Nice, this is a timely development as DW is about to receive a hand-me-down iPhone 6 and I was hoping to keep her on PT.

Do note that according to this post, "Customers with a SIM card prior to Mid 2015 may need to get a new SIM card."

I don't remember when you switched to PT, so I figured it's worth pointing out.

I noticed very few t-mobile MVNOs are one the Apple page. But MMS problems don't exist on those, right?

As far as I know, despite the lack of T-Mo/Sprint/Verizon MVNOs on Apple's list, none of their SIM cards will lock you out of the MMS APN settings. You'll still lose stuff like visual voicemail, VoLTE and VoWiFi, hotspot, Facetime over cellular and similar, but those usually aren't make-or-break core services (though VoLTE availability may become a breaking point for a lot of T-Mo MVNO users as their UMTS network gets refarmed to LTE).
« Last Edit: December 25, 2017, 09:15:07 PM by Daley »

katsiki

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Re: Best Cheap Cell Phone Plan?
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2017, 07:54:41 AM »
We've had 2 lines on Consumer Cellular for ~ 2 years and have a few family members on separate plans.  No issues.  Great, ATT service at a better price.  I like that you can tweak the plans throughout the month.

Football750

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Re: Best Cheap Cell Phone Plan?
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2018, 10:36:34 AM »
We are looking at Mint SIM as a leading options right now. I currently use the AT&T Gophone service, but AT&T's coverage will be pretty terrible where we are moving. I know Mint SIM uses T-Mobile's infrastructure.

Football750

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Re: Best Cheap Cell Phone Plan?
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2018, 02:51:41 PM »
Ordered the SIM card for MintSim today :)

MrsWolfeRN

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Re: Best Cheap Cell Phone Plan?
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2018, 05:03:05 PM »
Posting my question here here rather than starting a new thread:
 I am currently grandfathered into the Republic Refund plan at $10/month, but my phone (2nd gen moto X) is starting to have battery life and charging issues and I won't be able to keep my plan if I get a new phone (unless I can find another legacy Republic phone that doesn't have the same issue). I was quoted $100 to replace the battery and charging port by the local repair shop. The wifi calling feature is useful to me because I have dead spots in my house with every other Sprint MVNO I have tried. The new Republic plans are about the same price as Boom or Selectel, which both use the Verizon network (friend with a more expensive Verizon MVNO gets a signal in my house just fine). I didn't see Boom mentioned in the Son of the Superguide but I think Frugalwoods has mentioned it on their blog. So should I:

Get my phone fixed? (Phone is 3 years old)
Get a new phone and pay $15/ month for RW
Get a new phone and switch to Boom or Selectel, also $15/ month (and does anyone know which one is better and if I can port my number if I do this)

Also where should I look for a decent used Android phone? I don't want to buy one and have to take it to the repair shop right away.

CogentCap

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Re: Best Cheap Cell Phone Plan?
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2018, 03:56:05 PM »
Haven't seen anyone mention MintSim on this thread yet.  I've been with them for the past 3 months and it's been great.  They use T-Mobile's network and the idea is to "buy bulk" for wifi--meaning, you get better rates if you pay farther in advance.  You can get 10GB of high-speed data for $20/month (unlimited lower-speed data if you use up all 10 GB).  I use less GB so only pay $15/month for an even cheaper plan.  All talk and text is unlimited with them.

As for phones, I bought used Galaxy S7 from Amazon for both myself and DH this past year (finally had to upgrade from iPhone 4, lol).  There are some great cell dealers on Amazon.  Check their reviews to make sure you've found a good one, and don't forget Amazon backs your purchase for your satisfaction (if anything goes wrong, they'll give you your money back pretty easily--they want to keep customers pleased and trusting their brand, even at the expense of their sellers).

Daley

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Re: Best Cheap Cell Phone Plan?
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2018, 04:13:18 PM »
Posting my question here here rather than starting a new thread:

One of the reasons why there's a superguide discussion thread stickied. :)

I'm gonna try address all your questions and curiosities.

If T-Mobile coverage is available for your area, and your usage is light enough to come in sufficiently under $20/month to make it worth it (especially since Ting is kinda expensive unless you're doing multi-line), Ting GSM does offer WiFi calling on their plans provided you have a T-Mobile handset that supports WiFi calling. I had used the function with great success in the past with a cheap Lumia 435, but this really isn't a good path to follow anymore for a variety of reasons. Similar can be said of Consumer Cellular using their own T-Mobile SIM card, but the same multi-line pricing caveats apply.

If you get excellent Verizon coverage in your home, consider looking into US Mobile or Red Pocket, both offer Verizon service and have some pretty good prices for "pay for what you need".

Boom's not terrible, but they've gone from launch with having plans on all four major networks to only Sprint and Verizon now (not a great vote of confidence), and their prices aren't terribly more exciting than US Mobile or Red Pocket on the cheaper end.

You could certainly get the phone fixed for cheaper, but it would require you doing it yourself, and built-in batteries can be a pretty big pain in the keester for a first time tinkerer to take on. Give the teardown and replacement process at iFixit a look to see if you want to try. This is exactly why I recommend against phones without user replaceable batteries in general - but especially on proprietary networks, which pre-T-Mobile plan-based Republic Wireless was.

You should theoretically be able to port your number out of Republic to any carrier, but the old VoIP Republic plans can sometimes be... troublesome... to port out of to some carriers. That's not entirely the carrier's fault, it's a consequence of how Republic used to set up their "wireless" service on Sprint.

As for where to find a good used Android phone, Ebay from sellers/dealers that specialize in cellphone refurbishing and have high reviews are usually a good bet, and Swappa can be a good choice as well. As for an Android phone I recommend these days, the Moto G4 Play XT1607 is a pretty solid device, all things considering. User replaceable battery, decent specs, good price new or used, usable on just about every network, aftermarket firmware upgrade path after Motorola abandons Android updates if desired. Just stay away from the ones that Amazon baked adware into.

the_fella

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Re: Best Cheap Cell Phone Plan?
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2018, 09:02:31 PM »
I'm on MintSIM's $15/month plan. It offers unlimited talk, text, and data (throttled after 2 GB). You have to pay for a year in advance. They also offer more expensive plans that offer more data before throttling.

Edited to add: This is a T-mobile MVNO, so if T-mobile doesn't work very well in your area, this might not be the best plan for you.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2018, 09:04:09 PM by the_fella »