iPhone or Android With Data Plan For Low Usage

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I don’t know why unlimited calling, texting and data for smartphones is so popular these days. Or is it just advertising that makes it appear to be popular? Radio guru Clark Howard likes Straight Talk at $45/month for unlimited everything. He also mentioned a T-Mobile plan for $30/month with unlimited web and text plus 100 minutes of talk time. To me, these plans are still too expensive.

I’m either at work or at home most of the time. I have access to a landline phone and Wi-Fi at both places (free home phone service through Ooma). When I’m out and about, I make and receive some calls. I need access to the Internet but I don’t browse extensively unless I’m on Wi-Fi. I still like to use a smartphone. Unlimited would be an overkill, even with the $30/month T-Mobile plan. In addition, T-Mobile’s coverage isn’t very good where I live.

The Talk n Text 1200 plan by Page Plus is another possibility. Page Plus uses Verizon’s network, which is pretty good here. I already have a dumb phone (“feature phone”) on Page Plus using the standard “$10 for 100 minutes in 3 months” plan. The Talk n Text 1200 plan comes with 1,200 minutes, 3,000 texts, and 250 MB data per month for $30/month. I use at most 100 minutes, 50 texts, and 50MB data in a month.

What’s the best plan for a smartphone with low usage? Can I do better than $30/month?

I’m glad I found this blog post by Mr. Money Mustache: Our New $10.00 Per Month iPhone Plans. It fits my usage pattern perfectly — still using a smartphone, a little bit of talking, texting, and data, but far from needing unlimited everything.

Mr. Money Mustache uses the $10 Plan from Airvoice Wireless. I’m using a different carrier H2O Wireless (click on the Minute Plans tab). I chose H2O over Airvoice because H2O’s price for data is a little less. H2O’s Minute Plan charges 5 cents per minute, 5 cents per text, and 30 cents per MB of data. I must add minimum $10/month or $100/year; unused balance rolls over.

I got hold of a used iPhone 4 originally used on the AT&T network. H2O Wireless uses the AT&T network. I didn’t have to unlock the iPhone or jailbreak it. Then I bought a micro SIM card for H2O Wireless on eBay for $1 with free shipping ($10 if you buy it directly from H2O). I activated the SIM card on H2O’s website, ported over my existing number from Page Plus, and configured the iPhone with the MyH2O app found in the iPhone app store. An Android phone on AT&T would work too.

I turned off cellular data on the iPhone (Settings -> General -> Cellular -> Cellular Data set to off). I only turn it on when there is no Wi-Fi and when I really need to look up something on the Internet.

It’s been two months since I started using this setup. So far so good. I spent $25 total in two months. That’s $12.50/month, much better than $30/month or $45/month.

[Photo credit: Flickr user William Hook]

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  1. Dan says

    Nice deal! Thanks for sharing! I would have considered this option if had known about it sooner. Did you get the app to check your Ooma voicemail yet? I know that there is one in the Android Market for 0.99. Republic Wireless has a great deal too at $19 per month for unlimited everything if you buy the $250 phone up front.

  2. [email protected] says

    I wrote a similar post a few weeks ago. It’s amazing what’s available now with MVNOs.

    Do you use data for texting? It’s much cheaper…

  3. Bucky says

    hmm! I’ll have to look into this more.

    But at first glance, it’s probably not going to work for me. Airvoice charges $0.33/MB data. My current plan is AT&T $15/200MB. I routinely use 150MB data per month, that would be $50 through Airvoice.

    However, the H2O $40 plan seems pretty good. Unlimited talk, text, and 100MB data.

    The catch is that no subsidized phones.

  4. Matt says

    TFB – Airvoice now has an option to automatically renew. Obviously not necessary if you just add $100 to your account right off the bat.

  5. KD says

    Harry, How is the H2O Wireless working out for you? They have dropped their data price to $0.10/MB now. Airvoice also has dropped their prices to $0.066/MB – though they charge more surcharge fees I believe.
    Have you considered something like Cricket Wireless that is now acquired by AT&T and uses the same coverage? There is a new entrant gousmobile.com that uses T-mobile network and offer Ting like plans. I know you prefer pay-per-use to bucket like plans. So I was curious.

    • Harry Sit says

      H2O worked well. I moved to Airvoice for its lower rates, although I have to spend minimum $10/month. H2O is true pay-as-you-go. I don’t see a low usage plan from Cricket.

    • KD says

      Thanks for the update. That is the beauty of prepaid. You can go along with whoever you like whenever you like as your needs may change and only pay for what you want to.

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