Customer Review

547 of 561 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome (and inexpensive) phone and plan(s), March 15, 2011
This review is from: LG Optimus V Prepaid Android Phone (Virgin Mobile) (Wireless Phone Accessory)
I had to abandon my ATT family plan in favor of letting my youngest daughter get on it and enjoy the free family minutes and unlimited texting, etc., which I don't use so much (already had 5 lines and they won't let me add another one). So, I was looking for the cheapest alternative to getting a 6th line, at least comparable to what I would have paid for the 6th line on ATT. I looked all over and all the individual plans where $40+ or so, without including texting. Then I came across the Virgin Mobile $25 unlimited data, text, web + 300 minutes and it seemed that it would fit the bill.

I got the phone on sale for $105 and it is just the best phone I have ever had, although I have not activated it yet (more on this later), at an awesome price. Why haven't I activated it yet? Well, it turns out, this android phone lets you install all kind of apps from the android market via wifi without activating the phone, you can pop in an 8Gb, 16Gb or 32Gb SDHC card and use this as a pretty awesome (and cheap) ipod/iphone substitute. I have installed apps for watching TV shows, read news (USA Today, NYTime, Bloomberg, etc), Pandora radio (sound through the speaker is very full for such a tiny device), GPS navigation/maps, calculators, MS Office documents viewer, a few games, GasBuddy to find cheap gas locally (pretty handy these days), etc. All FREE from the Android market. But, BY FAR, the best applications I installed are Google Voice, which together with SIPDroid (after signing up for a free GoogleVoice account and a free PBXes.org account) allows me to link them together and configure the phone to use VOIP to make my calls through the internet instead of using the limited 300 minutes I would get if I signed up with Virgin Mobile for $25/month, I can also use it to do unlimited free texting through my Google voice number.

I wanted to do this to make sure I did not go over the 300 minutes and start racking up a huge bill with VM once I activated the phone, but as it turns out, this has worked out so well that I am still undecided as to weather I will need to activate the phone and sign up for the monthly service. Granted, I can only make/receive calls when I am within WIFI range, but, WIFI is so prevalent these days. Many of the establishments a person does business with have free internet access for their customers: Starbucks, Dennys, Mcdonalds, Barnes&nobles, Homedepots, Panera bread, Hooters, highway rest stops, libraries, Krogers, Quiznos, Schlotzsky, FedEx offices, Hotels... the list goes on and on. I also installed a WIFI Analyzer App which shows if there is a free/open WIFI within range and its signal strength. You can get a nice directory of wifi spots in your area here-> [...] which of course does not list all the available ones.

What happens when I'm outside WIFI range? Well, of course I can not make calls, inbound calls go to my GoogleVoice voice mail and as soon as I get into WIFI range and connect, my inbound text messages get delivered and/or I get a notification of a missed call which I can check right away. Obviously not something I would want to use as a business phone, but for personal use when you do not need to be available 24X7 this works great! You also get a great excuse when you don't want to answer someone, later you can say... "Sorry, I was not in WIFI zone...", you can even put that in your answering message. This setup would be great for students who live on campus where they have free access to the campus WIFI network (many of them provide free open WIFI all over campus). All these for $0 a month plus the cost of the phone.

If you feel you need capability to make calls from anywhere in case of emergencies, or for 24X7 availability, then just activate the phone and pay the $25/month. You would get many other benefits which would make this device a very capable business phone. I've read that once activated, you can install an app to make the phone a WIFI hub for up to 4 or 5 devices (supposedly there is an app for that, :-) pun intended, in the android market). This would provide internet service to your WIFI based laptop anywhere. I will investigate this more if/when I activate the phone. I have to admit, it would be fun to be able to go on trips and have internet in the car for my kids ipod touches or laptops while we are on the road. The more they can entertain themselves, the less "are we there yet?, are we there yet?" questions we will get... :-)

Summarizing, if you activate the phone, you get unlimited texting, phone web browsing, tv watching, internet radio, etc. + unlimited internet based calls using the provided unlimited data service + internet for your computer/ipod touches anytime/anywhere. All these for $25/month? Sweeeet! I don't think any carrier can beat that, the closer unlimited everything plan is cricket for $55/month for an android or blackberry phone. ATT, Verizon, etc? $70 and up... Virgin Mobile uses the Sprint 3G network, so, it's coverage (at least here in Houston) is pretty good.

I hope you find this useful.
Enjoy!

Nov. 23th. 2011 - I finally activated the phone this summer which I spent away from the family working up North and they wanted 24X7 access... (great to be loved so much!). It is now even better. I have an app that shows how many minutes are left and when I'm getting close to using the 300 minutes, I can dial out using the internet and google voice through the data service from anywhere (where there is 3G signal). Came in handy to have Pandora on the phone when my car radio stopped working and it's great to be able to do everything I used to do only within WIFI range now everywhere. GPS worked great while I was traveling through the North East, except when cruising through the Adirondacks (no 3G service out in the sticks :-) ).
Virgin has raised the price of the plan to $35 a month for newcomers, (previous users are grandfathered in at the $25 rate) but even at $35, it still the best deal around as far as I know. Finally, Target has the phone on sale for $50 for the next two days...
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Comments

Tracked by 7 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 40 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 17, 2011 8:22:51 AM PDT
H. Song says:
Hi,

Thanks for your thorough and helpful review.

-hyokjae

Posted on Mar 18, 2011 6:24:48 PM PDT
J. Ferguson says:
great review! Very helpful. Thanks.

Posted on Mar 24, 2011 1:29:34 PM PDT
This is one of the best reviews I have ever read, I am now sold on buying this phone. Thanks!

Posted on Mar 25, 2011 5:38:02 AM PDT
"I've read that once activated, you can install an app to make the phone a WIFI hub for up to 4 or 5 devices (supposedly there is an app for that, :-) pun intended, in the android market). This would provide internet service to your WIFI based laptop anywhere".

From the Virgin Mobile website:

"Virgin Mobile doesn't currently offer mobile hotspot (tethering) functionality. But we're always working to improve and expand our service, so stay tuned".

Posted on Mar 27, 2011 3:26:07 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 27, 2011 3:39:27 PM PDT
viffer says:
The PBX service is no longer free and the Google Voice service is free only through the end of 2011. Also this phone is so popular that retailers are now charging over the $149 MSRP ($229 at Amazon, $199 at Best Buy). And the "unlimited" 3G data service is throttled after I believe 5GB.

Still if you were lucky enough to score a deal on the phone early (I paid $110 at Target) and set up your Sipdroid account when it was free like you and me, then you're right. It's tough to beat free voice, data and text messaging over wifi on a quality Android smartphone.

Posted on Mar 27, 2011 3:27:45 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Mar 27, 2011 3:35:15 PM PDT]

Posted on Mar 27, 2011 3:29:35 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Mar 27, 2011 3:35:01 PM PDT]

Posted on Mar 28, 2011 10:59:46 AM PDT
Very interesting information for those on a budget... or for travelers outside the US too these ideas would work I think in a wifi zone. Great review.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 2, 2011 4:34:09 PM PDT
J. Jacobson says:
Tethering to your VM phone is against the ToS they actually block the phones from being able to do that. Yes, you can work around this. But, if you abuse the 5.5g a month they have the right to limit/remove your internet availability.

Posted on Apr 3, 2011 11:08:13 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Apr 3, 2011 1:25:51 PM PDT]
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Location: Houston, TX United States

Top Reviewer Ranking: 907,599