Compare Prepaid Smartphones: Metro PCS vs Virgin Mobile vs Boost Mobile
Buying a smartphone is not always a bright idea. Smartphones and their data plans are usually very expensive. A smartphone can go for as much as $500 without contract and their plans often exceed $70 per month. As more people are exposed to the benefits of smart phones, more people want them at an affordable price. While signing a contract can take a few hundred dollars off of that MSRP, it may be cheaper in the long run to go prepaid. As the economy struggles to gain strength, prepaid cell phones make a comeback. In the past, being on a contract was looked upon as being responsible. “You're building credit”, they told you. Today, people are starting to realize they may be better off with a lowly prepaid cell phone.
So what if I have a prepaid? I'm saving money! Today, everyone is looking to save a buck and going prepaid is actually smart.
You Got A Prepaid?!
There used to be a stigma about prepaid cell phones. They were cheap and ugly. Just like cars and watches, cell phones became somewhat of a status symbol. Suddenly, it was iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, or bust. You didn't own one? You're not cool! Don't worry my friend, if you own a dumb phone, I still think you're cool. What if that's not enough? What if you want to join the cool kids but you don't want to sell your kidneys for a membership? Luckily for you, there are lots of prepaid smartphones on the market for you to choose from!
MetroPCS Smart PhonesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Out of all the prepaid cell phone carriers, MetroPCS currently has the largest selection of smartphones with 5 choices. This includes the BlackBerry Curve 8530, Huawei(pronounced Wah-Way) Ascend, LG Optimus M, Samsung Code, and Samsung Craft. The BlackBerry Curve is no newcomer and most people are familiar with it. It sports a full qwerty keyboard, BlackBerry OS5 and all of the standard smartphone features. This includes GPS, WiFi, email, web browsing, and word processing. The Hauwei Ascend features all of this in an Android 2.1 package. The LG Optimus M is another Android smart phone with a slightly more updated Android 2.2 OS. The Samsung Code is similar to the BlackBerry Curve in which it also has a full qwerty keyboard. The Code is powered by Windows Phone Mobile 6.1. The last smart phone in MetroPCS's lineup is the much anticipated Samsung Craft. The Samsung Craft is unique in which it is the first prepaid smartphone that supports 4G(LTE). It also has a full slide-out qwerty keyboard, 3.3” AMOLED display, and a proprietary OS developed by Samsung.
MetroPCS also has some appealing plans to go with their relatively large selection of smart phones. The price range for smart phone service range from $50-$60. $50 is the standard price for all smart phones and $60 is the price you pay for a BlackBerry plan. What's unique about MetroPCS is that they do not offer a limit on minutes. All of their smart phone plans are unlimited everything. Unlimited calls, text, email, and data. If you want a huge selection of smart phones and don't want to worry about minutes, MetroPCS is the way to go. Although MetroPCS offer killer unlimited plans, there are cheaper options out there.
Virgin Mobile also offers smart phones at competitive prices. Currently, Virgin Mobile only offer 2 choices for smart phones. The Samsung Intercept and the BlackBerry Curve. The Samsung Intercept is a slight successor to the Samsung Moment. The Intercept offers WiFi, GPS, and a full slide-out qwerty keyboard. The Samsung Intercept comes preloaded with Android 2.1. This gives users access to turn by turn navigation with Google Maps Navigation. The Samsung Intercept is a solid smartphone. For $25 per month, its the cheapest smartphone plan available today.
Virgin Mobile offers a 3 tier plan. On their bottom tier, for $35, you get 300 anytime minutes and unlimited data. This includes unlimited text, email, and web. For $45 per month, you get 1200 anytime minutes to use along with your unlimited data. If you are the heaviest of users, you can have unlimited talk and data for $55 per month. If you choose to go with the BlackBerry Curve, you no longer have to add $10 to your plan. $35 per month for a legitimate smart phone is a killer deal. This will come to about $37 with tax. If you want the reliability of a BlackBerry, $35 per month is not a bad choice either.
Boost Mobile is the last carrier on our list. Like Virgin Mobile, currently, Boost Mobile has 2 smart phones available. The BlackBerry Curve and the Motorola i1. The Blackberry plan with shrinkage starts at $60 per month. The Motorola i1 will cost you $50 per month with shrinkage. Shrinkage is a promotion Boost Mobile recently launched. If you make payments on time for 6 months, Boost Mobile will deduct $5 off your monthly bill. So for a BlackBerry plan, you can get the unlimited plan for as low as $45 per month after being a loyal customer for 1.5 years. For other phones including the Motorola i1, it will $35 after responsibly paying your bills on time for 1.5 years. This can be great for people wanting to stay on Boost Mobile and also like the convenience of unlimited plans.
The Motorola i1 is unique in which it is the first Android smart phone that is compatible with the iDen network. This network offers instant connectivity through push-to-talk. Sadly, iDen is not very popular and Sprint is discontinuing their iDen phones. Boost Mobile will surely do the same. The Motorola i1 is a standard smart phone that runs on Android 1.5. It does not have a physical qwerty keyboard. Boost Mobile also offers another plan for their smart phones. Their Daily Unlimited plan. For each day you use your phone, you pay $2. So, if you use your phone everyday for a month, you will pay a maximum of $62. This plan is comparable to the BlackBerry Unlimited Plan but it does not have shrinkage. I can't imagine this plan being useful for smart phone users. I use my phone every day and it would be cheaper just to go their standard plans. The option is there if it's right for you.
Although prepaid smartphone plans are cheaper than contract plans, there is one thing missing in the equation. Cost of the phone. In most cases, national carriers will offer a discount on phones where you can most for $99 and some even for free. With prepaid smart phone plans, you have to buy the phones at retail prices. This can be as high as $300. Luckily, most prepaid smartphones are around $200. It may be tempting to get the latest phones when you sign that contract but in the long run, you will be saving more money with a prepaid. For example, if you are on Sprint's 450 Anytime Minute plan, you will pay about $80 per month. Over the term of your 2 year contract, this equates to $1,920! If you purchased the Samsung Intercept and stayed with Virgin Mobile's 300 Minute plan over the same course, it would come to $200(cost of the phone) + $25*(24 months) = $800 before taxes. So that means you will be saving about $1,120! That's an incredible saving! It's clear that owning a prepaid smart phone is the smarter choice. Not only do you save more money in the long run, but you are not tied down to a contract. Imagine losing your job and having to cancel your cell phone? That's another $200 early termination fee! Be smart. Get a prepaid smartphone!