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Virgin Mobile - Prepaid Cellular

Updated on January 20, 2011

Who is Virgin Mobile?

Virgin Mobile was what is referred to in the industry as a virtual mobile provider. it is now owned by Sprint which paid four hundred eighty three ($483,000,000) million dollars for it in 2009. Virgin Mobile, depending on which country it is operated in, is a brand name only. The actual services or providers change from location to location.

For example Virgin Mobile Canada is actually Bell Mobility. Virgin Mobile India is actually Tata Teleservices and so on.

In essence Richard Branson worked out a deal with cellular providers such that they can use the Virgin logo and name to market their products. This way consumers are counting on the reputation of Virgin, while getting service from someone they may not think that highly of.

It is a legal "bait and switch," so bear that in mind.

In the United States, Virgin Mobile is actually Sprint.

Virgin Mobile (USA) Logo
Virgin Mobile (USA) Logo | Source

Virgin Mobile Services

Virgin offers two levels of service plan. One is called "payLo" and it has three rates for set numbers of minute.

The second plan is called "Beyond Talk" and is geared more toward smartphones by offering more in the way of data transfer, texting, and web-access. As with other providers the Blackberry Curve incurs an additional $10 fee.

The breakdown of all these plans is in the table immediately below.

Virgin Mobile Service Plans
 
 
 
 
 
PayLo
 
Minutes
Messages
Web Download
Expiration
Basic
$20
20 cents each
15 cents each
$1.50 Mb
90 days
400 Minute
$20
400
15 cents each
$1.50 Mb
30 days
1500 Minute
$30
1500
500
10 Mb
30 days
 
 
 
 
 
 
Beyond Talk
 
 
 
 
 
 
$25
300
unlimited
unlimited
un-advertized
 
$40
1200
unlimited
unlimited
un-advertized
 
$60
unlimited
unlimited
unlimited
un-advertized
for Blackberry
$10 extra on any of the BT plans
 
 
 
 
Click thumbnail to view full-size
LG RumorKyocera LoftSamsung Intercept (Android)
LG Rumor
LG Rumor | Source
Kyocera Loft
Kyocera Loft | Source
Samsung Intercept (Android)
Samsung Intercept (Android) | Source

The Phones

Virgin offers a wide selection of both basic and advanced phones. Considering that the price paid is for the phone and not a contract (this is prepaid after all) the phones are surprisingly cheap. No effort is made to delude the potential client into thinking they are paying one price (when a contract is involved), when the actual price is something else.

The prices posted are the prices paid. Simple.

There is a line of simple basic phones that start at $9.99, which is the Kyocera TNT and the most expensive basic model $29.99, which is the Samsung M340.The basic phones in this lineup work with the "payLo" plans.

Virgin Mobile USA also offers smartphones the cheapest of which is $69.99 being the Kyocera Loft (a truly ugly brick with badly placed key arrangement) and the most expensive being the Android powered Samsung Intercept at $249.99. The smartphone lineup of phones work with with the "Beyond Talk" plans.

As stated before, the price listed is the price paid. There is no contract which actually pays for the phone.

LG Rumor
LG Rumor | Source

LG Rumor

This phone first appeared in summer 2007. It is a CDMA phone operating at 800/1,600 MegaHertz. It is a side-slider meaning that if the phone is turned sideways (landscape) a keyboard can be slid out of it. The keyboard is a QWERTY, but with only three rows and the keys are pretty small as well.

The built-in address book is limited to five hundred (500) entries and has sixteen Megabytes (16Mb) of memory. It does recognize microSD so it can take additional memory. It supports Bluetooth 2.0 and uses a two point five (2.5mm) millimeter headphone jack. There is a one point three megapixel camera supporting two hundred sixty two thousand colors. The phone also supports MP3 and MPEG video playback.

The phone comes with calender, do to, alarm and a tip calculator. It supports SMS texting, but not MMS. It also supports email in IMAP, POP3 and SMTP as well as web-browsing.

The closed dimensions of the phone are four point three by two by three quarters of an inch (4.30 x 2.00 x 0.70") [109 x 51 x 18 mm] and it weighs just over four ounces or 113 grams.

Battery life is pretty limited at about four (4) hours with a standby time of about eight (18) days.

Kyocera Loft
Kyocera Loft | Source

Kyocera Loft

Also known as the Torino, the Loft supports CDMA 800, 1700/2100, 1900. The screen is two point two inches and displays two hundred two thousand colors. Talk time is about four hours with standby time of about ten days. It supports Bluetooth 2.1 plus EDR and also has a two point five (2.5mm) millimeter headphone jack.

It has a one point three (1.3Mp) Megapixel camera with digital zoom; there is no flash. As with the LG above the phone supports five hundred (500) address book entries. The phone includes calculator, tip calculator, world clock, timer, stopwatch and memo.

The phone allows SMS texting and has internet access as well as mail.

Samsung Intercept (Android)
Samsung Intercept (Android) | Source

Samsung Intercept

The Samsung Intercept was released in July 2010. It is an Android phone working on a CDMA phone network at 800 and 1,900 megaHertz.

It is a "side-slider" with a four row QWERTY keyboard that slides out of the right side of the phone. The keyboard is smallish, but has four rows of keys with space between each key. The overall phone dimensions are four point four by two point two by one half inch (4.43 x 2.19 x 0.59") [113 x 56 x 15 mm].  It weights four point nine (4.9oz) ounces or one hundred forth (140g)  grams. It comes standard with 512 Megabytes of memory, but can be expanded to 32 Gigabytes via microSD card.

The phone can email (IMAP, POP3, & SMTP as well as Microsoft Exchange), and supports SMS and MMS messaging.

It has a TFT capacitive multi-touch screen running Android 2.2 (FroYo). It has talk time of five and one half hours (kind of limited for a smartphone) with standby time of about eighteen days. It features a three point two (3.2Mp) Megapixel camera with white LED flash.

The phone supports both MP3 and MPEG and can record both still and video images.

Other Phones & Accessories

Other Phones
Virgin Mobile U.S. offers a number of other phones. The ones reviewed above were samples of the lowest and highest priced phones offered. Note that the author feels that the three phones mentioned above have worse than average battery life.

Accessories
Virgin Mobile U.S. offers the usual assortment of accessories at marked-up prices.

Coverage Map
Coverage Map | Source

Coda

Though the phones initially seem over-priced they aren't; there's no two year commitment involved so the phones are actually pretty cheap considering there no mechanism for paying for them with a long commitment.A smartphone from a contract provider is actually billed to the customer at $500 ~ $600, but largely paid for in the contract.

When you run out of minutes you can no longer make calls, but by the same token you aren't going to be harassed for payment or billed.

The plans are simple and easy to understand, the choices limited, but sometimes that's the best way.

Complaints
Virgin Mobile U.S. has its share of complaints. Most involve poor customer service. Oddly, there aren't many complaints about the cellular service itself. Most have to do with obnoxious service reps, not being able to understand the technician, and errors in charges.

Virgin Mobile U.S. also seems to charge the consumer for the minutes made during a service call. TracFone does not.

WebSite
This is one of the easiest to use web-sites for prepaid the author has yet seen. Everything is easily found and checked upon. Nothing seems to be hidden and everything is simple and easy to access.

Service Map
The service map is realistically laid out with no exaggerated claims of coverage. If anything the map is does not show all the areas Virgin Mobile U.S. actually covers.

Verdict
This is one prepaid the author might consider. Granted charges are still too high, but everyone else's are as well. Though there are the usual number of complaints every company reviewed to date has customer service complaints.

Disclaimer

The author was not compensated in any way, monetarily, with discounts, or freebies by any of the companies mentioned.

Though the author does make a small profit for the word count of this article none of that comes directly from the manufacturers mentioned. The author also stands to make a small profit from advertising attached to this article.

The author has no control over either the advertising or the contents of those ads.

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