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Have You Considered Switching to Prepaid?

Posted In Polls - By Mark Hearn On Friday, March 23rd, 2012 10:16am PST With 37 Comments

With America’s postpaid mobile setup arguably in favor of wireless carriers, has the thought of going prepaid entered your mind? If paying on the upside of $200 to be locked into a two-year commitment with a hefty early termination fee as your only early out doesn’t float your boat, you’re not alone. But as flawed as the postpaid market’s system is, prepaid’s model is far from squeaky clean.

Taking a closer look at the off-contract ecosystem, you’ll find that it’s flooded with lackluster hardware and subpar network coverage. This made us wonder if pay as you go offered comparable hardware and coverage to current postpaid options, would you pay a little extra upfront to be contract-free? Be sure to share your thoughts on prepaid versus postpaid and the current state of America’s wireless industry.

[poll id="96"]

About - Mark is the founding father of SprintFeed. He is a nerd's nerd if ever such a thing existed. His love affair with the Now Network started with the release of the Treo 600 back in 2004 and has been going strong ever since. Highly opinionated and somewhat eccentric he shares his ramblings about his network of choice here at SprintFeed.

  • Jonathan Dogan

    To be honest you will probably get the same crappy service being post paid as opposed to pre paid why not cut your bill in half. I pay $112/month for one line and don’t see any real advantages to having a contract

  • Devin

    My girlfriend just switched from Verizon to Ting, an MVNO on Sprint which is somewhere between post and pre-paid. She got an HTC Detail (Evo Shift 4G) for $315 off-contract and pays only for the data/minutes/messages she uses (that part is post-paid though). I’ve thought about switching when my Sprint contract is up, but they’d need to have more competitive hardware available, and by the time I’m ready to upgrade my phone I’ll want access to Sprint’s LTE network which Ting may or may not offer by then.

  • http://twitter.com/Vanakatherock Vanakatherock

    I have thought about it. One of our business customers buys Sprint Android phones from us (HTC, Samsung) to flash for use on Boost Mobile. He keeps telling me to bring my E4GT to him and put it on Boost, and I have thought about it, but don’t really want to because even though my bill is almost $100/month, I have no complaints after 8 years on Sprint service.

  • http://twitter.com/WillieFDiazSF William Diaz

    Prepaid TODAY has shown us that carriers are extremely competitive in that market aspect, something they shunned years ago.
    Benefits to Prepaid are lower rate plan prices for plans similar or exceeding contract pricing. Usually they include bill shrink, unlimited data (not capped), free or near free international texts/calls, and of course ability to upgrade whenever you want. Many prepaid carriers also allow you to access 3G, 4G, and bring your own capable phone.
    The downsides are that customer service is offshore, the companies dont care if they keep you although they will compete against each other to keep you, the phone selection sucks on CDMA, and upgrades are expensive, insurance doesnt exist.
    However, for me, I take REALLY good care of my phones, and not being capped in data, still having the same service, coverage, and a cheaper rate plan for more and not being locked into a contract is more of the benefits I seek – so next month, Im cancelling T-Mobile and going prepaid.

  • Mark McCoskey

    I actually went pre-paid last July with Virgin. I picked up the Moto Triumph. My 3G download is usually slower than the upload. Beyond that, I’m saving $50 a month over an equivalent 4G T-Mobile account. I’m now debating whether to switch to a Sprint account, but will wait till LTE goes live in Las Vegas.

  • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

    What I don’t get is why Sprint still makes you sign a 2 year agreement, even if you pay the full price of a phone upfront. None of the other carriers do that.

    When I first signed up, I had my own Evo (from Google I/O) and they said I’d still be locked in for 2 years and I might as well get a discounted phone when I signed up, or I’d lose it. Sucked =/

  • Davidksims

    @Chris,I pre-paid!! Yep, for $638.00 I got brand new Motorola Photon 4G marriage free out the door!! And I will do the same when Samsung Galaxy Note or HTC EVO One X (I have not made up my mind yet)I also have a LG Virgin Mobile as a backup! Not sure of the phone number and it only has 10 emergency numbers!

  • KingP

    Prepaid is better, as long as you don’t use Sprint. The Now Network is so saturated with low-rate MVNO’s that it kills the experience for Sprint’s post-paid subscribers. For the last 6 years I was on Sprint, I equated 3G speeds to dial-up type speeds. I took my line to T-Mobile prepaid, and I actually now see what REAL 3G speed is like. It’s light years better than Sprint’s.

    Maybe once the Network Vision rollout is complete (and Sprint is still solvent and functioning as a company) then there will be a noticeable difference, but for now, I plan on taking my other Sprint lines to T-Mobile as well, once they are up, unless Sprint has a serious turnaround in their network performance.


    I considered it before I moved on to Verizon. Sprint had me so frustrated with their lack of speed and it’s because of all the prepaid networks that Sprint leases it’s towers to.

  • http://twitter.com/riickywong Ricky

    When you bring your own device (and sign a 2-year agreement), your line is upgrade-eligible immediately. I just did this for a bunch of lines. Maybe things changed, but I doubt it.

    Aside from the occasional sale, there is no difference between new and upgrade pricing from Sprint, so I wouldn’t consider much lost. Third-party retailers, however, generally provide much better pricing for new lines than upgrades.

  • http://twitter.com/riickywong Ricky

    I’ve been really tempted with the cheap international GSM Galaxy Nexus deals lately and T-Mobile’s $30/month prepaid plan.

  • double_take

    Galaxy Note with Straight Talk AT&T BYOD SIM card. 7.50 Mb/s+ download / 2.00 upload

  • smarterthanuare

    The 3G CDMA technology that Sprint and Verizon use has always been slower than the HSPA technology that T-Mobile and AT&T use so of course you’re going to see faster speeds with T-Mobile. Of course, T-Mobile doesn’t have nearly as much 3G coverage as AT&T and if it weren’t for AT&T then T-Mobile wouldn’t be getting a real 4G network at all.

  • cashd00d

    Why are you paying so much? Do you call a lot of land lines? If not, get the Everything Data plan and save yourself some money.

  • saligator7

    Thinking about doing the same. The Galaxy Nexus is selling for $498 on Amazon. The additional upfront cost will be easily offset by the $50/month savings for service, not to mention I’ll no longer be tied to any contract. I’m really tempted to switch to t-mobile when my Sprint contract expires next month.

  • KingP

    My comparison is Sprint/T-Mobile. Why did you even bring AT&T into the equation? Sprint/T-Mobile have similar coverage footprints, and T-Mobile has better speeds, so what exactly are you defending?

  • KingP

    I already took my line to T-Mobile. Will be taking my wife’s line as well, once her contract is up this fall.

  • kindaskimpy

    Which provider doesn’t cap your data on prepaid? I’m asking because I know T-Mobile and T-Mobile MVNOs (like T-Mobile’s own prepaid service or Simple Mobile) throttle you on prepaid. Depending on the plan, it could be at the 200MB, 2GB, or 5GB mark. Sprint MVNOs, like Virgin Mobile, throttle you at 2.5GB. Sure, it’s not technically a “cap” but it’s a huge speed reduction that drops you from 3G speeds (HSPA/HSPA+, EVDO) to 2G speeds (GPRS/EDGE, 1xRTT).

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UDULQFCLEXI4PRUQGIBNGEWVKQ John

    i pay $74/month with Sprint after all taxes, fees, and discounts. i get unlimited data, unlimited texts, unlimited mobile to mobile voice, and unlimited 7pm weekends. i also get 450 minutes of landline voice anytime. how can i beat this????????????

  • Thom

    I pay 15 pounds (around 25 bucks) a month for 3000 texts, 300 minutes, and unlimited data w/ no contract here in the UK on Three. If I could take it with me when I move back to the States and dump my Sprint phone I’d do it in a heart beat

  • Mamusil

    My wife and I have been using Boost for our Blackberrys for over 4 years now. I was on Sprint with a contract before that. I notice nothing different in terms of speed on the upload and downloads. And I have very very few dropped calls. The same amount as I did before with a contract. The cost savings was huge. On my wife’s when she was wife AT and T, 75.00 a month. Mine, 50.00 a month. Even after you figure out the initial cost of buying the phone, we are still saving 100.00 a month. I am very happy on Boost. I have never had any issues honestly so I have rarely had to call customer service. But when I have, wait time was around 4 minutes at most and the people on the line spoke very good English so I am doubting they were overseas. I am very happy and recommend it to others. And for those thinking. Use it in one small area, I travel the whole US for work. Only down side is needing a different phone when I head overseas.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UDULQFCLEXI4PRUQGIBNGEWVKQ John

    yes but that’s the UK. bad food, bad weather, bad teeth, and ugly women. i’m talking about in the USA – land of the free and home of the brave!!!

  • Wex

    Ive been using Tmobile Prepaid for six months. Since this is a Sprint blog, I know Sprint has Virgin and Boost along with MVNOs and Ive heard a lot of mixed reviews of people on those. Tmobile outsources their prepaid customer service/tech support -mostly to the Phillipines – and its horrendous. They basically operate prepaid as a separate company – your # even has to be ported (which of course they didn’t tell me and I lost voicemails I was saving from a dead friend) and even though their head of prepaid Mr Katz promised to try to get them back for me, I never heard from him. Ive been using a mid-level Android and had lots of problems…but I think with a better device, the experience would be better and probably comparable to the Tmobile “value’ plans that require you to pay for an unsubsidized phone. Basically I just let my contract lapse and due to all the issues and rude employees, I wasn’t going to sign another contract…Im most likely gonna go for an iPhone – I had considered Sprint and may still for the LTE iPhone but all the negative reviews of the Sprint data network have scared me away. I want to give up a problem phone and carrier and don’t want to trade them in for another set of problems

  • Wex

    Well you just said discount…most people don’t have that as Sprints everything plan is 79.99 plus taxes and fees which Id guess put it at over $90.month. I do notice another advantage of my prepaid is not having the additional taxes and fees, which usually added about 20% to my bill. It depends on needs. Im using my phone very limited lately and a lot of wifi so Im just biding my time until the next iPhone comes out and then might make the jump

  • Wex

    Interesting to see people here saying they’re moving to Tmobile cuz if you go to the Tmobile blogs, you’ll read about people moving to other carriers cuz Tmobile has gone down hill in the last year or two – especially when it comes to customer service…many devices also have network failures when trying to send SMS and you have to turn your data off or switch it to 2G for the text to go thru

  • Wex

    Yeah Straight Talk right now has a Bring Your Own Phone program for any ATT or Tmobile Phone for unlimited talk, text and 3G data for $45. Ive been told that would work with an old ATT iPhone so that would be a good deal for people paying more than twice that amount. I just get scared of all these prepaids -

  • http://www.laylebaker.com/ Layle Baker

    AT&T and T-Mobile use the same communication technology for data and voice, which is why they are more similar than Sprint/T-Mobile (Sprint is comparable to Verizon, as they both use CDMA)

  • http://twitter.com/jonathanM21 jonathanM21

    straight talk $45/unlimited bring your own device on networks like AT&T

  • http://www.thediarymad.com/ Alanc230

    We are considering switching to prepaid for the kids. We want to have some leverage for consequences in the event of serious transgressions.

  • Guest

    you’re an ass

  • Maschwar77

    Page Plus Cellular can beat that one out on all but the unlimited data for 55.00 tax included. You actually get 2GB of data which is enough for most people.

  • Maschwar77

    That’s a childish response.

  • Maschwar77

    Actually, you’re incorrect. 3G CDMA should get higher data rates. CDMA uses better data compression technology. Work provides me with a 3G GSM phone on AT&T and I have a 3G CDMA phone. I see higher data rates on my CDMA phone. Some of it is a function of the phone’s capabilities, time of use, and the saturation of the tower.

  • smarterthanuare

    I bought a Nexus One phone when it first came out. I consistently got download speeds of 5mbps on AT&T. Fast forward a couple of years. Now I have a Motorola Droid Bionic with Verizon. On Verizon’s 3G network download speeds never exceed 2mbps and are usually closer to 1mbps. It’s not as bad as Sprint’s 3G CDMA network was, but it’s still nowhere near as fast as AT&T’s network.

  • Cellphoneman

    What an idiot

  • Wazman

    In England everyone is on GSM like AT&T and T-Mobile. When I travel through Canada as well as abroad through Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Germany I don’t have to change my phone, I just get a cheap Chinese sim card and I am good to go anywhere I go abroad and I don’t have to pay the crazy price AT&T charges for international calling back to the USA. Also I use my Magic Jack plugged into my Panasonic laptop in hotels or cafe’s and the cost is about $ 1.56 per month and that includes unlimited talk time, messaging, and voicemail.

  • Blizzard

    Well you just said the magic word in your story. I Phone is the worst Piece of crap made that call’s itself a phone. They are so basic, Small, and have never had flash plus the incredible Siri that came out 2 phones ago still doesn’t work the was it is supposed to and actually siri is still in Beta testing. And then let’s move on to the bigger screen icrap5 which had a great map program Google Map’s, but rotten apple dumped it for icrap maps which also doesn’t work and is also in beta testing and will most likely be in beta for at least 4 to 6 years, that’s why iCrap told there customers to download Google Maps. I use a Samsung Note 2 and a Samsung S 3 both for work. My Note 2 has a screen size 1 .5″ bigger than your I crap if you have a I CRAP 5, plus my Note 2 is a Quad core and I an watch HD video on part of the screen and on the other part I can watch the stock reports. BUT IF YOU HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO GO OUT AND BUY A IcRAP MAC BOOK PRO AND NOT BLINK AN EYE OR A MAC PRO DESK TOP, you deserve everything you get, I on the other hand built my own Linux dual Quad desk top that cost me about $ 478.00 and has beem running for the last 5 years straight. Linux is used by more Hackers and computer mechanic’s than all the iCrap fan boy’s in the world 5 fold and the best part is Linux is and was built by Hacker’s to do there job the first time and the right way. One of the coolest things about Linux is that Icrap used there kernal to build there first OS. And since I don’t own a Icrap and never will I think they are still using the original format to build there OS. The problem is, Icrap made a simple do nothing phone like the phones from the late 80′s And then Google came along and developed Android and Android changed the way phones started to tald to each other plus they made them open source. And everyone wonder’s why every phone mfg. and a lot of new ones got on board with designing there own Android phone. People that own Icarp phones are the nearest thing there is to a Lemming and everyone knows Lemmings are followers. They follow other lemmings because they don’t know any better. The last time I looked at a poll I think Icrap had about 24% of the smartphone market and that was about 5 months ago but I did notice the stock reports that bad apple was down 2 times in one week, and Android was up a little but they own about about 71% of the Smartphone market.
    I used to own businesses and when I did I would always go around the biggest and most aggressive business that I could find. I found out that they always had a big checkbook for advertising. I let them advertise and I got richer and richer and then I finally saw them go out of business. I’s the same as Bad apple going after every company that makes Smartphones and tries to get something for nothing. In the end it is going to hurt them. Because people are getting smarter and smarter and don’t want to pay big bucks for something that cost’s much less. I was told that the Icrap 5 cost’s about $14.00 to make but they sell them to the cell phone carriers for around $600 to $750 per phone and they sell them for a gigantic loss because they make there money on service contracts. No how stupid do you feel ?