As Jonathan from My Money Blog pointed out on Friday, the best deal in wireless is about to get a little more expensive. On July 20th, the price for the cheapest plan (300 voice minutes and unlimited data/text) will jump from $25 a month to $35 a month. (Those who talk more can also save a lot of money with their plans that include more minutes). However, if you get in there before the jump, you are grandfathered in at the $25 rate. On Saturday, I rushed to three Radio Shack’s to get in on the deal. Why three? It seems like there’s a lot of demand for Virgin Mobile’s best phone… an LG Optimus V running Google Android.
I had been threatening to move from Sprint to Virgin Mobile for months now. The only thing that stopped me is that I wanted to use the best mobile operating system on the planet (excuse the fan boyism) in HP/Palm webOS and it isn’t available on Virgin Mobile. However, with the last chance to get in at $25 and the increasing realization that Sprint probably isn’t going to carry the Pre3, it seemed like the right time to make the move. I had been happy with Sprint’s service, but if they aren’t going to carry the phone I want, I might as well save myself nearly $50 a month and go with Virgin Mobile (which, ironically, uses Sprint’s network).
Three Radio Shack employees, one at each store, tried to talk me out of it. They said that the data connection wasn’t very fast (it’s essentially the same 3G that I have my Palm Pre now). They said that they throttle everyone’s speed (cell phone jargon for slowing your connection when you use what they deem is too much data). They may be speaking from experience, but Virgin Mobile, in the press release above, said that they will only throttle those who use more than 2.5GB of data a month. That’s a lot of data for a mobile phone. I’d also rather be throttled to slower speeds than have to pay more money on Verizon and AT&T. The only carrier not restricting data in some way is Sprint, and if I’m going to be forced to use an Android phone, I might as well save $50 a month or $600 a year.
I asked about the return policy because I wasn’t sure about the coverage and whether I’d be able to make the move to Android. Radio Shack said they’d take it back in 30 days. That will give me enough time to run the phone through the paces. I’ll keep my existing Palm Pre for back-up during that time.
I should note that Virgin Mobile is coming out with the Motorola Triumph, a new higher-end Android phone, the day that prices increase. If you are grandfathered in at the $25 rate, you can upgrade to the new phone without triggering the price increase. This means that one could sell their existing Virgin Mobile phone and get something almost on par with the HTC Evo or Droid. The phones are more expensive, but the data plan savings will make up for it in just a few months.