Contract-free is the way to be.

Kitschy rhymes aside, I’m a big proponent of using cell phones without a contract. Why?

Well, while it might be more expensive at first, (generally) it works itself out to be a cheaper option in the long run. Also, you don’t end up locked into a contract with a mobile carrier that may or may not be exactly what you want just a few months down the road.

Contract-free plans are often quite a bit cheaper per month than plans on a contract. I’m paying $50/month for my unlimited talk/text/web plan on AT&T. I’m also not locked in with AT&T. If, next month, I decided I’d prefer to use T-Mobile (which is always likely), I can go ahead and do that.

With T-Mobile, owning a cell phone without a contract is a rather easy thing to do. All you have to do is walk into a T-Mobile store, ask for a monthly 4G plan, and voila! You’ve got a mobile phone without a contract! You’re also paying only $50 per month for unlimited talk, text, and web. You can use this plan on any GSM phone, but be sure to pay attention to the band frequencies.

Before we move on, let me pause here to tell you why I’m not on T-Mobile. (Geekspeak coming up in the next paragraph. If you’d rather not read this jump ahead to the next set of bold text.)

While I would love to experience T-Mobile’s freedom and customer service, I own a phone that’s capable of HSPA+ speeds, but only on the 1900/2100 MHz frequencies. However, T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network is primarily on the 1700/2100 MHz frequency. Currently, T-Mobile’s 1900 MHz band is mostly on the GSM/GPRS/EDGE protocol, with some cities beginning to see HSPA+ arriving on the 1900 MHz band. Sadly, my city hasn’t gotten there yet.

In the meantime, I’m using AT&T’s GoPhone option. (Geekspeak is over now, you can come back.)

Now, AT&T is a little sneaky. They have an option similar to T-Mobile’s Monthly 4G plans, but they charge you an extra $25 for 1GB per month if you’re using a smartphone. I don’t really know why they do this (other than to squeeze money out of you).

Personally, I think it’s kind of a cheap shot. If you’re using a feature phone, you pay $50 per month for unlimited talk, text, and web. If you’re using a smartphone, you pay $75 per month for unlimited talk and text, and only 1GB of web. How does that make sense?

Fortunately, I think I’ve found a way round this. If you buy a GoPhone plan from AT&T on a feature phone (like this one) remove the SIM card, cut it into a microSIM using a tool like this, and put it into your smartphone, you get unlimited talk, text, and web for just $50/month. Just like on T-Mobile. (Geekspeak again) Except that AT&T’s HSPA+ network is on their 1900/2100 MHz frequency, allowing quad-band phones like the HTC One X and the iPhone 4S to take advantage of 4G-class speeds.

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3 thoughts on “Contract-free is the way to be.

  1. “If you buy a GoPhone plan from AT&T on a feature phone (like this one) remove the SIM card, cut it into a microSIM using a tool like this, and put it into your smartphone, you get unlimited talk, text, and web for just $50/month. Just like on T-Mobile” – – – It does not work that way. I tried it even before reading this post. You have to register your phone (the smart phone you are planning to use instad of theirs GO phone) with ATT, even to make a phone call. You the consequences . . . :).

    • This is what I’m doing right now. So far it’s working out just fine. I’ll post an update if anything changes.

      I’m also not planning on staying with AT&T for very long. When T-Mobile upgrades their 1900 MHz frequency in my area from GSM/GPRS/EDGE to UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+, I’m switching to one of these plans.

  2. To anyone reading this article, understand it is completely false (even when it was posted). I know the loophole the editor is talking about, it only works with phones that are not in AT&T’s IMEI database, in other words, not AT&T branded. Even then, AT&T runs sweeps against the data that the device is uploading and downloading, and if for some reason they thinks its a smartphone, it will automatically retire your account, or add a data plan.

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