Friday, April 22, 2011

Hello Virgin Mobile!

As a (former) loyal customer to T-Mobile, I’ve recently been weighing the pros & cons of leaving them after I got wind of the AT&T buyout. I know, I know; the buyout hasn’t happened yet, and the rumors going around about T-Mobile customers getting screwed may not be true. I however, don’t want to take the chance that in a year I could be with a lousy cell service provider. Buyout aside, there was something else that was bugging me; how much I was paying for my cell service. I was paying between $70-$80 a month for 300 minutes + Five Faves with unlimited everything else. Even though T-Mobile is WAY less expensive than other leading cell providers, I couldn’t help but think there was something better out there.

I knew Boost Mobile, Cricket and Virgin Mobile were all options, but then never really liked their phones. Then, at the Lady Gaga concert in Orlando (yup, a Gaga concert), I noticed that Virgin Mobile had a new Android phone: the LG Optimus V. Curious, and in a desperate attempt to save money in the future, I saw that the Optimus got amazing reviews and Virgin Mobile had a really good plan to go with it. Long story short; I canceled T-Mobile and completely switched to Virgin. Here’s a review of Virgin Mobile from my experience so far.

Plans Are Affordable
Virgin has three available, no contract, plans that include data, talk and text. The no contract is obviously a huge plus, but with only three brackets, they surprisingly fit just about every type of person.

$25/month: Unlimited Web, Email & Texting + 300 anytime minutes.

$40/month: Unmilted Web, Email & Texting + 1200 anytime minutes (my plan).

$60/month: Unlimited Web, Email & Texting + Unlimited minutes.

(Blackberry’s require an extra $10/month for Messenger & AppWorld)

Coverage Is Great (In Urban Areas)
I’ve known Virgin Mobile to have lousy service in Upstate New York (in my old hometown), and looking at the coverage map, you can see that they target urban areas and provide the best cell service in major metropolitan cities. That being said, Phoenix get’s amazing service throughout The Valley and up the I-17 to Prescott, Sedona and Flagstaff. I rarely leave the city, and when I do it’s usually to Sedona, so Virgin Mobile’s favorable city coverage works perfect for me! Another thing to remember is that the 3G data is actually Sprint's 3G. That's right; the Virgin Mobile network actually runs on Sprint's, which is great! And even more surprising is the 3G is stronger and faster than T-Mobiles.

Customer Service is Good
Customer Service so far has been good, but I can’t call it “great” just yet. I had a question about loading my account for a month of service and decided to email the support group. In less than 24 hours the problem/question was answered in a clear and simple manner. I haven’t encountered phone support yet, but have heard mixed stories about it. Some say it’s terrible, others (usually those that have switched from AT&T and Verizon) say it’s amazing. If I have a good or bad experience, that’ll be its own blog post.

Phones Are Good, but Limited
The phone selection is just as you would expect from any pre-paid cellular provider. However, there are three decent phones to note, and one I can tell you first-hand is phenomenal:

LG Optimus V
Price: $199.99
This phone is the one I purchased after reading reviews and comparing it with the Samsung Intercept. Receiving 4.7 out of 5 stars with over 700 reviews, I knew it had to be good. The phone has three CPU's with one dedicated to data, one to the Android OS and the main one for everything else. It tells of only one 600mhz processor, but several people have broken it down and explained that there are really three (two small, one large 600mhz), which explains why it runs really fast with such a "low" processor. Here's Pros and Cons for a quick breakdown:

- Fast. Even with a 600mhz processor
- Android 2.2 is nice, and not skinned too much
- Screen is sharp and responsive
- Thin and Light, but feels like a good quality device
- Battery lasts all day, although some reviews say otherwise
- Not pre-loaded with a bunch of junk, just a few VM shortcuts

- No slide-out keyboard
- 3.2 inch touch screen gets crammed when typing (download the SwiftKey app)
- Camera is only 3.2MP and kind of grainy (compared to MyTouch 3G Slide)
- Only 140MB of app storage (but there is the option to store apps on SD card)

That's my little review of Virgin Mobile and my experience thus far with them. I broke it down, and over the next 20 months, I'll have saved $800 because of now paying $40/month with Virgin Mobile vs the $80/month with T-Mobile. If you include canceling the T-Mobile contract and buying the LG phone to get on the Virgin Mobile plan, I still will save $400. If the service continues to be great, and the phone holds up, I'll continue to be an extremely happy VM customer!

Does anyone else have Virgin Mobile? Anyone thinking of switching to a no-contract cell phone provider? If you're looking for a cost-effective alternative to when you leave T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile is the way to go.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sach a nice and informative artical, i like your post, orange mobiles