Author Topic: Swapping from a Verizon smartphone to a pre-paid plan?  (Read 21035 times)

onehappypanda

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Swapping from a Verizon smartphone to a pre-paid plan?
« on: January 21, 2013, 10:55:37 AM »
So in June I bought an iPhone and signed up for the expensive two-year contract to go with it.

I know, I know. Unmustachian. Dumb. You can refrain from ranting about how dumb this is because I already know it. Now I'm looking at the bill coming out of my bank account and cringing, especially when I calculate how much it'll cost me over the next 18 months.

So I'm looking for cheaper smartphone options. It'll cost me about $290 to cancel my plan at this point, and I considered trying to sell the iPhone, use the money to pay off my contract, then run free and find some cheap prepaid smartphone plan to roll with. This is still under consideration.

I like my iPhone and wouldn't mind keeping it with a cheaper plan.  I don't mind the cost of the phone (since I tend to run my cellphones until they physically die) but the cost of the plan is killer. I read the MMM article about going with a cheaper prepaid plan for iPhones but thought I was outta luck because my phone is Verizon- most of the prepaid plans I found were compatible with ATT/Sprint iPhones but not the Verizon one. Whomp.

Then I found Pageplus, which is apparently equivalent to Verizon prepaid coverage. Verizon gets the best coverage in my area hands-down, so that would be a major bonus for me. And a reasonable Pageplus plan would cost me at least $40-50 less per month than my current Verizon plan. It'd still save me hundreds of dollars to switch even if it meant paying off my current contract.

So that sounds like a win. But I'm not really up on my cellphone-tech-knowledge so I have a few questions:
1. Has anyone used a service like Beigephone and is it legit? Apparently you can pay to have them flash the phone over to Pageplus and it makes it a lot faster/easier. Internet research suggests that Pageplus technically blocks iPhones but reviews are saying that folks have had good luck going through Beigephone. Would be interested to hear if anyone has done anything similar.

2. What does a "clean ESN" mean? I understand that the ESN won't be clean if the phone is attached to a plan that has unpaid bills. What if my bills are paid but I'm still under contract though? Will that make my ESN not clean?

3. Along that vein, Pageplus says to keep my plan current while switching over if I want to keep my number (which is important to me). But do I need to pay off my contract BEFORE I make the switch or could I theoretically switch the phone, make sure it works okay on Pageplus, THEN cancel my contract?

4. Any experience with Pageplus service, and is it really as good as Verizon? Mostly, I'm worried about getting cell service in the more rural areas where my family lives. I live in the city but visit semi-frequently and don't want a phone that won't work out there. Verizon is generally a reliable provider in this area, which is why I've stuck with them. Data is less of an issue, as I mostly just need it in the city where most plans work okay.

A few advance replies to comments I imagine I might get:
I've heard the anti-smartphone rant. I also get where they're coming from, but I did the cheap flipphone thing for years and am not really willing to go back to it at this point. For my work and personal schedule, smartphones have been a lifesaver. I can make room in my budget for it, I'd just rather make it cheaper if I can.

I tried the really cheap options like Tmobile and Straighttalk before signing up for this plan, and both of them got crap cell service. I can deal with slower data, I can't deal with a phone that doesn't work in my house, my office, or on the major roads that I drive to go home. Hence, trying to stay with Verizon-esque service.

I haven't ruled out getting rid of the iPhone and getting the Android that works with Pageplus's plans. It's an option. But if keeping the iPhone was posible, that'd be preferable.

Any other thoughts, throw 'em out there. Any personal experiences with this, I'd love to hear them. Alternatively, someone tell me to stop overthinking this and just do it, heh.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2013, 11:01:01 AM by onehappypanda »

TheDude

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Re: Swapping from a Verizon smartphone to a pre-paid plan?
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2013, 11:41:36 AM »
Ok here's my answers and advice. Disclaimer I am a huger Page Plus Fan.

1. I don't have any experience with Beige phone. But I have activated quite a few Iphones myself with page plus. Although I have never done a 4S I have done a few 4. Its at least worth a shot on your own IMHO.

2. Clean ESN mostly just means its not stolen and its bills have been paid. As long as you pay your cancel fees your ESN will remain clean.

3. Yes to keep your number you need to port to page plus without canceling through Verizon. Verizon will then bill you for everything. I would recommend canceling electronic delivery of bill when you do this as I have had some bad experiences with Verizon's website after canceling.

4. I love page plus for there large service area. Look at Verizon's prepaid service map. Its the same as page plus. The only difference from your current plan is Verizon does have a few areas where they have roaming partners. You do not get with Page plus but its a pretty small area.

If I where in your shoes I would cancel and sell the Iphone. If its a 4S it will just about pay the cancellation fee. Then go to eBay or Craigslist and find and HTC Incredible which can be had for about $55. Then sign up for the Page Plus Talk and Text 1200 for 29.95. You will need to limit your data but its still gives you a fair amount.


Daley

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Re: Swapping from a Verizon smartphone to a pre-paid plan?
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2013, 11:45:05 AM »
First thing I'm going to recommend on this subject is for you to read the discussion between TheDude and myself over in another thread starting with this post.

Technically from a policy standpoint, iPhones are not allowed on Page Plus (details in that thread). My advice today, yesterday and tomorrow will remain consistent: if you insist on running an iPhone but want the option to have a phone plan cheaper than $35 a month and the ability to take your handset to a competitor, you need to go with a carrier unlocked GSM model and MVNO. If you still want to take the CDMA route and use your current handset, go for it, but do so knowing the risks.

As to your questions:
1. Has anyone used a service like Beigephone and is it legit? Apparently you can pay to have them flash the phone over to Pageplus and it makes it a lot faster/easier. Internet research suggests that Pageplus technically blocks iPhones but reviews are saying that folks have had good luck going through Beigephone. Would be interested to hear if anyone has done anything similar.

The previously provided link should let you make a more informed decision on Beigephone and iPhone use on Page Plus. You should definitely talk with TheDude about his P+ iPhone migration, however.

2. What does a "clean ESN" mean? I understand that the ESN won't be clean if the phone is attached to a plan that has unpaid bills. What if my bills are paid but I'm still under contract though? Will that make my ESN not clean?

A clean ESN is basically a clean hardware serial number. What makes things unclean are phones still under contract or stolen. Your current iPhone's ESN would not technically be "clean" until after you have paid off your ETF fees. Think of it like the VIN of your car and the pink-slip that goes with it.

3. Along that vein, Pageplus says to keep my plan current while switching over if I want to keep my number (which is important to me). But do I need to pay off my contract BEFORE I make the switch or could I theoretically switch the phone, make sure it works okay on Pageplus, THEN cancel my contract?

Yup, that stands for any MVNO you want to port your number to. If you aren't current on your bills, your current provider can block number porting, and you can lose your number in the process. Technically speaking, the act of porting your number will terminate your previous service for you. This is why it's recommended that you don't cancel your service before you port your number as this will all but guarantee that you won't be able to port it. Under most circumstances with migrating both handset and number from Verizon to Page Plus, it's recommended that you buy out your contract first so you're both current and your handset has a clean ESN. This way, you can take both the handset and the phone number over at the same time. Unfortunately, things are far more complicated than this given the handset and the carrier you're dealing with. Short answer? Just buy out your ETF first before porting your number anywhere to keep everything simple, whether you go with Page Plus or another MVNO, or keep or sell your handset.

4. Any experience with Pageplus service, and is it really as good as Verizon? Mostly, I'm worried about getting cell service in the more rural areas where my family lives. I live in the city but visit semi-frequently and don't want a phone that won't work out there. Verizon is generally a reliable provider in this area, which is why I've stuck with them. Data is less of an issue, as I mostly just need it in the city where most plans work okay.

Generally, coverage and reception on MNO towers will remain identical through MVNOs to what you already have. The only change you'll experience with Page Plus over Verizon will be data connection speeds due to the change in your APN.

A few advance replies to comments I imagine I might get:
I've heard the anti-smartphone rant. I also get where they're coming from, but I did the cheap flipphone thing for years and am not really willing to go back to it at this point. For my work and personal schedule, smartphones have been a lifesaver. I can make room in my budget for it, I'd just rather make it cheaper if I can.

I'm not recommending necessarily going with a simple flip phone. My point made with feature phones is that there are models now that have competing features to smartphones, but have better battery life, are cheaper, and use less data. You may need/want features that your iPhone provides, but the key is to realize that nearly all those features aren't solely in the domain of the iPhone or even Android anymore. If you want to stick with the platform, it's your money, but don't convince yourself that you have to keep spending that sort of money to get the functionality you're desiring.

I tried the really cheap options like Tmobile and Straighttalk before signing up for this plan, and both of them got crap cell service. I can deal with slower data, I can't deal with a phone that doesn't work in my house, my office, or on the major roads that I drive to go home. Hence, trying to stay with Verizon-esque service.

Straighttalk's a pretty crap service anyway, and it sounds like you've just got poor GSM reception, T-Mobile included. This means that you're probably looking at better coverage on a CDMA network. I don't know what Sprint coverage is like in your area, but if you're correct in saying that Verizon's the only good provider in your neck of the woods, that pretty well limits you to Verizon, Page Plus and Ting... and even if Ting allowed for iPhones (which they don't either), it'd have to be a Sprint iPhone. If you've got good Sprint coverage, that opens up Virgin Mobile (you can officially buy iPhones for use) and Eco Mobile, which allows BYO(Sprint)D, but again, no iPhones.

I haven't ruled out getting rid of the iPhone and getting the Android that works with Pageplus's plans. It's an option. But if keeping the iPhone was posible, that'd be preferable.

Any other thoughts, throw 'em out there. Any personal experiences with this, I'd love to hear them. Alternatively, someone tell me to stop overthinking this and just do it, heh.

All this should help you really decide if trying to keep that iPhone is really worth it or not. Any other questions, you know I'll be kicking around.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2013, 11:50:08 AM by I.P. Daley »

TheDude

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Re: Swapping from a Verizon smartphone to a pre-paid plan?
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2013, 11:57:10 AM »
I love getting in before I.P. :)

I just want to make my view of Iphones on PP clear. Unlike I.P. I dont have any moral issues with it as can be seen in our discussion. However they are still really damn expensive. I think an Android phone is just as good and about 1/3 of the price. At $55 I think the Incredible is a steal.

onehappypanda

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Re: Swapping from a Verizon smartphone to a pre-paid plan?
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2013, 12:10:03 PM »
Point taken, it may be both ethically and monetarily better to ditch my beloved iPhone.

So since that's still under consideration, two questions:
1. If I look for an Incredible (or similar) phone via Ebay or Craigslist, how do I make sure I pick one that isn't stolen/broken/etc.?

2. Similar vein but as a seller, how would you conduct a legit sale of an iPhone 4s? Should I pay the ETF first, and is there a fast/easy way to reset the phone? Also, how to avoid getting screwed? Admittedly, selling electronics on Ebay scares me as I've been burnt on much smaller items before. Craigslist is potential since I live in a city, but not sure how much I can nab.

Thanks for the thorough replies folks.

Daley

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Re: Swapping from a Verizon smartphone to a pre-paid plan?
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2013, 12:23:58 PM »
Missed it by that much! ;)

I'd like to clarify a bit on what Dude just said. I wouldn't say my objections are on grounds of morality on the subject of iPhones on Page Plus... they're ethical objections, but only in that they're not intended for use on the network due to legal technicalities. (Realistically, I consider the restriction BS.) I don't have a problem with people doing so, so long as they're aware of the risks if caught and haven't done it in a way that directly supports stolen handsets in an already gray market. It's why I'm cool with the Dude and his setup.

Also, if an HTC Incredible is going for that cheap, I second looking into it for your needs. Just be sure to snag a Verizon model with a clean ESN.

As to the new questions:

1) A clean ESN is going to be your defense against getting hot merchandise. If they're honest, they'll give you the ESN/MEID before purchase to check against (in your case) Verizon's database. As for functionality... it's just a matter of hands-on and/or blind faith. If you go Ebay for purchase, stick with the larger volume cell phone dealers that have high ratings and Gold status, and read the description carefully. If there's no mention of things like a battery or cord, ask if they're included before purchase or assume you're on your own for providing it.

2) Pay off the ETF, then sell off the phone. List it as clean ESN and be honest about condition and functionality. If they ask for the ESN/MEID, provide it in private. You can do a factory reset on the phone using iTunes, IIRC. As for avoiding getting screwed, know what you're selling, be honest, know what it's worth, and don't take anything but cash in verifiable bills or payment through a service like Paypal.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2013, 12:26:17 PM by I.P. Daley »

onehappypanda

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Re: Swapping from a Verizon smartphone to a pre-paid plan?
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2013, 12:41:09 PM »
Thanks IP. Potentially dumb question: Can I just call up Verizon and pay off the ETF/contract, but KEEP my service?

Basically trying to figure out the timing of all this, especially because I'd prefer to keep my number. If I need the plan to be active in order to port my number, but I need to cancel the ETF before I can switch my plan over...

I could call Verizon but I doubt they'll be helpful on this point.


Daley

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Re: Swapping from a Verizon smartphone to a pre-paid plan?
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2013, 12:55:24 PM »
Potentially dumb question: Can I just call up Verizon and pay off the ETF/contract, but KEEP my service?

Yup, you should be able to. I believe the proper term to float is "buying out your contract", or "paying off your handset" or some such nonsense with them (I can't remember exactly). Just make it clear you're only buying out the contract and not terminating service.

That said, it might not hurt to wait and do that until you're ready to pull the handle anyway. Every billing cycle month under your belt, the cheaper the ETF. If you're still paying Verizon for service, you might as well take advantage of getting out as cheaply as possible.

Daley

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Re: Swapping from a Verizon smartphone to a pre-paid plan?
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2013, 01:05:03 PM »
D'oh! Missed a point on your question. Since you're only selling the iPhone and not trying to take it over to Page Plus with you, you could technically wait to pay the ETF until after you port your number, as the ETF will be tacked onto your final bill if it hasn't already been paid before number porting. The ESN being clean on the handset is only dependent upon whether you've paid the ETF. Porting your phone number is only dependent upon your bill being current.

You can buy the Incredible, port your number and activate the Incredible on Page Plus, pay off Verizon's last bill with ETF fees, and sell the iPhone in that order. You don't have to put the ETF payment before switching to Page Plus unless you want to, and is only recommended for people who want to take their handset with them from Verizon to Page Plus.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2013, 01:08:02 PM by I.P. Daley »

Miss Stachio

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Re: Swapping from a Verizon smartphone to a pre-paid plan?
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2013, 08:08:11 AM »
iPhone 4s can be activated on pageplus through the activation page on their website (no need to go through a third party).  See this link: www.geekintheforest.com/iphone-page-plus/

However, pageplus currently does not support 4g phones (I don't quite understand the technicalities of why, see discussions in HowardForums or perhaps IP can chime in) so keep that in mind if you are looking for other phones.

TheDude

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Re: Swapping from a Verizon smartphone to a pre-paid plan?
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2013, 08:58:13 AM »
Page plus does not support any Iphones or 4g phones. Now it is possible to activate and Iphone 4 or 4S on Page plus however it is not possible to activated an Iphone 5. Some people have gotten other 4G phones to work with Page plus but you don't get 4g and it takes a lot work. I would not recommend trying to get a 4g phone on Page Plus.

Daley

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Re: Swapping from a Verizon smartphone to a pre-paid plan?
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2013, 08:58:33 AM »
However, pageplus currently does not support 4g phones (I don't quite understand the technicalities of why, see discussions in HowardForums or perhaps IP can chime in) so keep that in mind if you are looking for other phones.

Short answer: Basically, Verizon isn't selling Page Plus access to their LTE network. As such, LTE enabled CDMA phones require reprogramming to turn off data support on those bands and SIM support, IIRC.

Interesting bit you linked, by the way. Good to know that self-activation with Big Red's 4 and 4s models is theoretically possible without doing anything dodgy to the handset, just requires a bit of either brute force effort or selective truth telling (if not possible outright lying). I also wish this thread linked in that article over at HoFo was stickied as I'd never seen it before. That's added far more clarity even to my own knowledge than any other bit posted over there or gleaned from dealers. I'm still ethically opposed under general principle to recommending or suggesting doing it so long as it's against official policy due to the risks involved, but as I've said before, Verizon and Apple's policies are total horse manure. If people want to take the chance, just do so knowing the risks.

onehappypanda

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Re: Swapping from a Verizon smartphone to a pre-paid plan?
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2013, 06:09:55 PM »
Thanks for linking to the thread, it clears a LOT up that my random googling wasn't.

I'm still working on exactly what I'll do but this is the kick-in-the-pants I need to get hoppin' on it and get out from under this contract.