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Prepaid cell phone recommendations?


GaryMN's Avatar
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MN

08-25-17, 06:38 AM   #1 (permalink)  
Prepaid cell phone recommendations?

Looking for basic guidance selecting a prepaid smart phone for just basic use.

Things that DO NOT MATTER: app capability, good for Facebook and whatever, high end camera, movie and music storage, style settings.

THINGS THAT MATTER--Speakerphone and good phone sound quality and whether you can get a case and screen protector for it..

I just want a better phone and basic service and I do not really know what the important variables are as far as 4G, 4G LTE, Bluetooth, CDMA, etc.

I am very inclined toward Trac Fone because I have 3 phones on a Trac Fone account now and would rather not get involved with yet another account. But I will go elsewhere in a heartbeat if there is a good reason.

Tracfone has a Samsung Galaxy J3 Luna Pro 4G LTE with 16GB Memory in the stores. Also a Samsung Galaxy J3 Sky 4G LTE that requires shipping.

Any recommendations greatly appreciated.

 
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ShortyLong's Avatar
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08-25-17, 07:05 AM   #2 (permalink)  
Some of the least expensive pre-paid plans are Metro PCS, Boost Mobile, Trac-Fone & T Mobile. Here's where things can go wrong. Flip phones, which is what I have (forget about ZTE) are almost extinct. Samsung would be my pick followed by Motorola followed by LG. That's if any of them still provide flip phones.

 
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08-25-17, 03:53 PM   #3 (permalink)  
I have two emergency-use only pre-paid phones on Page Plus Cellular.

Most of these pay-as-you-go providers are what is called a "mobile virtual network operator," MVNO. An MVNO doesn't own the wireless network it's using, it leases excess capacity from a mainstream carrier.

PPC is an MVNO of Verizon, so if your provider is PPC, you're communicating through Verizon cell towers. Where I happen to be, Verizon's coverage is as good as it gets, so that's a good thing.

My specific requirements in choosing PPC were 1) good coverage (there's no telling where you might need to make an emergency cellphone call from) and 2) lifespan of the minutes I buy (the longer the better). I buy 100 minutes of airtime from PPC for $10 and they don't expire for 120 days. I might have gotten minutes cheaper elsewhere, but I'm not planning on using ANY of those minutes, so the per-minute price wasn't even on my radar. Obviously, if it was a phone I was planning on making regular use of, I would have chosen a different PPC plan, or given other providers a harder look.

All the MVNOs/pay-as-you-go's suffer from the same problem: their customer support isn't wonderful. They had to cut corners somewhere to make their service so cheap, and that's usually the first target. If you want Cadillac service, expect to pay Cadillac prices. I've been on PPC about three years now, haven't had any failures of service and they haven't screwed up anything account-wise that they couldn't fix (eventually).

All the MVNOs will sell you a phone but most if not all will let you bring an existing phone, or one you bought elsewhere. Several of the MVNOs sell phones at the big box stores and chain grocers, for as little as $20. At least one grocer even has its own MVNO. They don't bother to have their own phones made, they just use TracPhones. And there's some interchangeability of telephones between providers. IOW, in the case of some specific devices, you can use a phone with one MVNO's brand on another MVNO.

And just because you've bought a prepaid phone from Provider X doesn't mean you're obligated to use it on that network. I've bought both a TracPhone and a Straight Talk phone from WallyWorld and used them on PPC. PPC's terms of service says they don't guarantee full functionality of any phone they didn't sell you, however, the very phones they sell are Straight Talk-branded (I should know because I bought one). You also can used a Verizon-branded phone on PPC, provided your contract on that phone was completed and the MEID is "clean." My Mom only carries a cell phone in case of emergency, and it's a Verizon-branded flip phone a family member "retired" ages ago.

The Howard Forum was created for -- believe it or not -- phone 'hobbyists.' If you want to learn more than you ever dreamed possible about prepaids and MVNOs, just peruse their forum.

 
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08-25-17, 06:24 PM   #4 (permalink)  
All the MVNOs/pay-as-you-go's suffer from the same problem: their customer support isn't wonderful.
You can say that again. It's nowhere in the same ball park as wonderful.

I have some family members on TracFone using Verizon. They do work well and the price is ok.


~ Pete ~

 
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08-28-17, 09:01 AM   #5 (permalink)  
If you're getting good cellular service with Trac Fone, I would stick with them. My father uses T-Mobile for his and coverage around here is good but there's always a best and worst covering provider in each area and it's nice to find out who the worst one is because someone other than you has them....

 
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