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Owned by Leap Wireless, Cricket Wireless has built a name
for itself as a budget wireless provider offering low-cost plans.
According to Leap, Cricket Wireless provides service to cus-
tomers living in 35 states and the District of Columbia. To sign
Cricket’s network footprint,
wh ich is limited. Once you’re
on board, nationwide data and
voice is available.
The carrier sells an A ndroid
pla n for $55 per month, which
includes unlimited voice and
text. The comparable Black-
Berry plan runs $5 more, at
$60. No contract is required
with either plan. The big caveat
here, though, is that both plans
limit you to 1GB of data a month.
Also note that you can incur
charges of $0.25 per minute if
Cricket’s network orits roaming
Cricket Wireless' handset
selection is not terribly exciting.
The best bet for A ndroid fans is the Huawei Ascend ($129),
running version 2.1 of the OS. The Sanyo Zio ($129) comes
with the obsolete Android 1.6 .
Pros: Android plan starts at $55 for everything unlimited.
CoNs: Weak handset selection. roaming can cost extra. Limited
to 1GB of data. Need to live in Cricket Wireless service area.
4G CoverAGe: No announced plans.
Claiming to cover 90 percent of the
continental United States, Metro PCS
limits its service to folks living in 14
core geographical areas centered
in major cities. An unlimited talk,
text, and data plan can be had for
as little as $40 per month. That said,
if you want to make sure you don’t
get charged additional fees, opt for
the $50 plan that includes “HTML
Advanced Web Browsing” and
“Corporate Emai l.”
Flagship handsets include the
LG Optimus M, which for $229 gives
you Android 2.2 . BlackBerry users
can choose the $249 Curve 8530.
Like the BlackBerry option on Virgin
Mobile, this ha ndset is older and
doesn’t run the latest BlackBerry 6
operating system. Metro PCS also
sells a Samsung Craft handset that
accesses the carrier’s f ledgling LTE 4G network. However,
the $299 price doesn’t seem justified for a phone that runs a
proprietary Samsung OS, and early test results of the network
have not yielded impressive resu lts.
Pros: Unlimited data plans start at $40. LG optimus M provides
the full Android experience. No contracts.
CoNs: Need to live in one of 14 service areas. Handset selec-
tion could be better.
4G CoverAGe: offers LTe 4G in Dallas, Detroit, Las vegas,
Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and san Francisco, with more
sMALLer CArrier BreAkDoWN
You may have seen the adds promising aggressively priced unlimited data and text messaging plans and
attractive handsets from the likes of Cricket Wireless, Metro PCS, and Virgin Mobile. Sure, it sounds allur-
ing, but what do you actually get and what can you expect if you sign up? Here’s a quick rundown.
Purchased by Sprint in 2009, Virgin Mobile offers the most aggressive pricing around
and uses Sprint’s nationwide network for voice and data. Virgin deliberately targets
its plans at younger customers who keep voice chats to a minimum and use e-mail,
social networking, and text as their primary forms of communication. The provider’s
least expensive Beyond Talk plan provides unlimited data, e-mail, text, and 300 voice
minutes for a rock bottom $25 per month. $40 gives you 1,200 of voice minutes, while
$60 ups it to unlimited.
As of this writing, Virgin’s current flagship handset is the Samsung Intercept.
Costing $249, the Intercept is an A ndroid 2.1 device. BlackBerry users are covered
by the Curve 8500 ($199). While by no means a state-of-the-art smart phone, it’s a
good choice for e-mail and accessing RIM’s growing selection of apps. Even though
you’ll pay more up front for the hardware, over time you’ll save a lot.
Pros:very low $25 plan for unlimited data. samsung intercept lets you jump into the
Android game. Nationwide coverage on sprint’s 3G network. No contracts.
CoNs: Limited handset selection. BlackBerry service costs an additional $10 per month.
4G CoverAGe: No announced plans.
LG optimus M
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