Not because of the phone – it’s a dinky little Samsung Intercept – but because of the plans. They are all contract-free, and start at $25. The basic level only gives you 300 minutes to talk, but it includes unlimited data – no funny extra fees like the majors do. As our communication patterns change, many of us don’t need more than 300 minutes, just a good data connection.
$25 all-inclusive, without a 2-year plan commitment at a time when all other smartphone plans start at $69 and higher, with penalties if you leave or upgrade within two years sounds like a great deal – even if the phone is a compromise. Since I am within the 30-day period to evaluate both a Samsung Fascinate from Verizon and the HTC EVO from Sprint, I decided to get one. Buying was easy – pick it up from the local Target in 5 minutes – and so was activation online.
First impression: the phone works, call quality is decent, the screen is tiny but readable, and I was able to install / run apps from the Google Apps Market. As the phone has EVDO Rev0 vs. the current standard RevA, data conenction is supposedly slower – but here’s the gotcha: I live in an area so badly forgotten by all carriers, that I only get a poor signal anyway, so I won’t notice. (Virgin Mobile uses the Sprint 3G network.)
But the first surprise cam today, when I tried to install Google Voice. The App installs, but setting up your account fails at the step when your supposed to call *71yournumber to route voicemail to Google Voice. The message is rather rude: “You are not authorized to call this number”. Ouch. Virgin Mobile Customer Service confirmed: there is no way to fully setup Google Voice, since they don’t support call forwarding, which is the the way Google Voice VM needs to be set up.
So where does that leave us? For one, And Android phone without the full Google Voice experience is not really an Android phone. On the other hand, you can use most GV functions: outgoing calls and text messages via GV, integrated inbound messages, voicemail transcription – as long as you follow the discipline of not giving out your cellphone number, making outbound calls via GV..etc.
Compromise? It most certainly is. But then you save at least $1,000 over the lifetime of a typical contract. You get what you pay for. And that’s both good or bad.