I am a pretty customer of Virgin Mobile, but so far I’m extremely satisfied with them. I think that their service is just about perfect for someone (like me) who wants a simple, reliable phone for only occasional use.
My first cellular phone was in the late 90s. It was a Nokia phone and the service was by Cellular One. Since then I’ve Sprint PCS service on two different Kyocera phones (including the 7135, the 1st successful phone/PDA combo), and also on my Handspring Visor Deluxe PDA. I wouldn’t call myself an early adopter (mostly because I can’t afford that), but I do like to uprade things every now and then.
Up to this point I’ve always been happy the various phones and service plans I’ve had, but one thing that always aggravated me was the contract. And I didn’t like the way your contract is always extended when you change calling plans. So I decided to switch to Tracphone. They were OK but their plan was very expensive. I also remember that at the time they were marketing themselves as an atlternative to those who could not get a “regular” plan because of their low credit rating, and this does seem a bit predatory to me. So I quit using it because of these reasons, but mostly because of the cost. For about a year I was without a cell phone, and then I decided to try to pay-as-you-go thing again recently.
About a month ago I bought a Nokia Shory with Virgin Mobile Service at Radio Shack. The phone itself is great. It’s very small and it looks very nice. It’s also very ergonomic, which is important to me. Overall it’s very well-designed. The built-in software has quite a lot of features, though it’s not nearly as advaced as the Treo 600, Treo 650 or many others phones or smartphones (it’s not supposed to be though – this is just supposed to be a solid, no-frills thing). And the reception is just fine (Virgin actually uses the Sprint PCS network, so the reception is the same for both).
Here are some of the features I really like. These aren’t super-advanced features – they’re all pretty basic and a lot of phones have them. But they are very practical, and I like to use technology in a practical way.
You can take some of the people in your contact list and put them in a single “group”, and you can have seperate groups for family members, friends, etc. And you can give each each own ringtone. That way, as soon as the phone rings you’ll know what type of person is calling you without even looking at the phone. You can even go a step further and give everyone a different ringtone so you’ll know who it is by the sound of the ring.
You can also give your contacts “voice tags”. You do this by recording their voice into the phone, and then when you want to call them you just speak their name.
There is also a voice memo feature that allows you record 1-minute notes to yourself that you can listen to later.
And there’s a built-in flashlight! Of course it’s not very powerful, but it helps a little in some situations, like looking for something when it’s dark outside, etc.
There is one feature that I absulutely love, I kind of stummbled upon this by accident. And I don’t think this is documented anywhere, in the instruction manual or anywhere on their website. All Virgin Mobile phones come with an email address, which is email@example.com. So you can actually give this address to people and the message will go right to your cell phone (only the first few lines though). Alternatively, you can set up your primary email account to forward all of your email to this address. I only wish that they led you read more of the message though.
There’s no built-in camera or MP3 player, and this is definately not a “smartphone”, but remember that this is just supposed to be a basic phone at a low price ($40).
Virgin gives you three different service plans to choose from. The one that I have is their most basic one. I’m paying 25 cents/minute for the first ten minutes/day, and after ten minutes (on the same day) it’s 10 cents/minute. This is a very good plan for someone who doesn’t use their phone too often. Maybe one or two short calls/day. Their next plan is better for those who use their phone a bit kmore than this; that plan is 35 cents/day weather you use you phone or not, and then then there’s a flat fee of 10 cents/minute all thre time. So you’re paying about $10.50/month just to have the phone, and 10/cents minute. If you do use your phone quite a lot then you can pay $30/month for 300 minutes, though the minutes are divided up in kind of a wierd way – 150 on weekdays and 150 on weekends. So there’s a calling paln for almost everyone.
One thing I didn’t like about Tracfone was that you had to add $20 to your phone every month to keep it active. With Virgin you have to add $20 every three months to keep it active, and there’s even a deal on their site where you can do it for $15.
Their website is very good. It’s a little too bright and happy for me-it seems like it their trying to appeal to teenagers, which I am definately not. But it does let you review your phone use, see how many minutes you have left, change service plans, etc. You can slso download extra ringtones if you want.
Their customer service seems very good. I say “seem” only because I only called them once, but the guy was very cool and he even called me “boss”.
So in summation I’m pretty happy. It’s not the most advanced phone in the world, but it’s fine for someone like me who only uses it now and then. Just keep in mind that any pre-paid deal can get very expensive if you use you phone very often. In that case a regular cell phone is better for you.