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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Review: T-mobile Pre-Paid

At the start of the year, I switched over from a Verizon Droid to a Nexus 1 on T-mobile's Prepaid service. The choice was made mostly because the N1 was given to me, and I did not want to pay a massive monthly fees for a phone on which I did not expect to make many phone calls, and I was mostly in a WiFi zone anyway, so data didn't matter to me most of the time.

For $100 at the T-mobile store, I got a SIM card that's good for 1 year (you can renew and keep the phone #, but since I used Google voice anyway, I didn't particularly care whether or not I kept the same phone #). Since January, I've got about $76 left, which means that I'm paying on average $10/month for phone service.

As expected, T-mobile has less coverage than Verizon, but since phone calls were not made often, I did not care very much. One exception was last week's bike tour, where Yoyo and I played phone tag because we both were on T-mobile and ended up not ever able to connect. It wasn't a big deal though.

One particularly nice feature of T-mobile prepaid that I wasn't aware of when I bought into the plan was the Web DayPass. On the days when you really need data, you turn on your 3G mobile on the N1, bring up a web-browser, and are given the option to purchase a Web Daypass for $1.49. What this does is to give you unlimited data coverage for 24 hours. On Tuesday, when I had intended to take the train but due to other circumstances had to drive instead and was therefore unprepared with directions, I turned on Web Daypass and used Google navigation to get to my destinations. I've been using Web DayPass whenever I needed to travel and needed navigation/web search/etc, and it's been great. [Update: Even tethering works with no extra charge!] The DayPass comes out of your prepaid dollars, so there's nothing fancy to do, no credit card entry, etc. (You do have to confirm that you intend to spend the money 3-4 times though!) Phone calls are $0.10/minute, as are text messages.

All in all, if you're a cheapskate, don't make phone calls very often, are frequently in wifi areas and so have no need for full time continuous coverage, the T-mobile Prepaid plan is an excellent one. The Virgin Beyond Talk plans are still tempting, but my suspicions is that with my usage patterns, the T-mobile plan on the N1 will be far cheaper. Not to mention, if you have an unlocked phone on T-mobile, that same phone is still useful in Europe.


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