Virgin Mobile has the best smartphone deal on the planet

October 27, 2010: 3:29 PM ET

How does an Android 2.1 Qwerty slider with unlimited texts and Internet for $25/month after taxes sound to you?

Samsung USA

Virgin Mobile offers the best smartphone plan I've ever seen...by a long shot.  If you pay the full price ($249) for a cheaper Samsung Intercept phone, you can jump on Virgin Mobile's $25/month everything pre-paid with 300 anytime minutes.  The plan comes with Unlimited Messaging, Email & Web.

Yep, that's it.  Finding a smartphone plan under $70/month is difficult, $25/month is unheard of.

For someone who doesn't use their phone to talk a lot but wants a genuine smartphone, this blows away any featurephone out there.

Speaking to Virgin representatives, I can verify this is the real deal.  My main concern was that after spending $250 on the phone, could Virgin up the monthly price in the new year?  They told me that there would be a grandfather clause where you'd continue to be billed at the rate you bought the phone at (but I'd prefer to have that in writing).  I was also told that this is the only Android phone that they'd carry in 2010, but more would likely be on the way, including an Android 2.2-updated Intercept some time in 2011.

If you want more talk minutes Virgin does 1200 minutes for $40 and unlimited for $60.

The Samsung Intercept is by no means on the high end of Android devices available today.  In fact, Virgin Mobile generally pulls its phones from the low end of parent company Sprint's offering.  But it is a working Android 2.1 phone with GPS and most of the midrange features you'll find from other carriers and manufacturers.  The screen at 3.2 inches and 240x400 pixels is probably the biggest limitation.  But certainly not a dealbreaker at $25/month.  I'm thinking this makes a great entry level smartphone for the kids or the folks who are featurephone hold outs.

Virgin's plans for the Intercept

It has GPS hardware for navigation with Google Maps, Bluetooth 2.1 for speakerphones and MicroSD card for expandability of up to 32GB.

I talked to Sprint's pre-paid group who mentioned that you can't simply bring another Sprint (S) Android device to Virgin and expect to get it activated.  The reps I spoke to didn't rule it out for the future but there are no current plans to do this.

You also can't tether or use this device as a hotspot (without rooting it I'd assume).  Sprint said an Android 2.2 update was in the works which may let you tether for something closer to their (also amazing ) $40/month plan.

Sprint announced today at its quarterly earnings call, that they are picking up customers at a rate higher than anytime in recent memory and a lot of that has to do with its Android and pre-paid customers.  With deals like this, I only expect Sprint to continue to gain marketshare.

Notable's specs on this device:

  • 3.2" Touchscreen 1.54" x 2.57",WQVGA, 240 x 400 pixels, QWERTY keyboard slider
  • 3G  3.2 MP Camera
  • 800MHz Processor
  • 2.1 OS Android™ Éclair
  • CDMA 1900 MHz, EVDO REV
  • Dimensions: 2.19" x 4.43" x 0.59"•
  • Full WebKit Browser
  • Battery: 3.7 Volt Lithium Ion, 1500 mAh, Talk Time: 6.4 Hours• Standby Time: 254 Hours
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About This Author
Seth Weintraub
Seth Weintraub

Google went from searching the Web to worming its way into nearly every facet of business and government. Seth Weintraub unveils where the company is going, who it's competing with, who it's about to compete with and how market forces push the company to veer or adhere to its Don't Be Evil motto. For 15 years, Weintraub was a global IT director for a number of companies before becoming a blogger.

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