Forum Thread

Inexpensive Individual Cell Phone Plan That Allows Pic Texts (MMS?)

Jennifer 455 203 May 6, 2016 at 11:30 AM
I have been using an LG 840g on SafeLink for a few years, but we are now more self sufficient and would like to upgrade my phone with a new provider. Unfortunately, I am technologically "old school" and would appreciate any opinions you could offer this Ole' Gal.

Here's what I'm looking for:
  1. MUST be able to send images via text. BONUS if it can post them to Google Hangouts. (This may reveal my level of tech ineptitude, but hubby received a Galaxy S6 through work in Dec.and I just used it for the 1st time last weekend. This instant image sharing was very convenient, but I've read some carriers, RingPlus & FreedomPop come to mind, do not allow this.)
  2. Monthly cost should be as low as possible as we are just getting back to having luxuries again. I prefer to stay under $25/month.
  3. Phone should just have better/same specs as my LG840g.

Based on my SafeLink usage, I NEED 400minsTALK/month and 1,000 TEXTS/month, but would LOVE unlimited for both. I haven't used data, but as we do not have GPS in our vehicle, I would probably like to check Google Maps 5x/month and look up local businesses. I am set up for WIFI at home and live in NJ where I have yet to have any problems with reception.

I was considering RP+ and FreedomPop from posts here at SD, but I read they do not allow you to text images. If true, they are not options for me. LOL...SafeLink allows me to text images! I am currently researching other options, leaning towards Republic Wireless, and appreciate any input from those of you in the know.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. It's deeply appreciated.

Jennifer, who recalls not understanding why my parents couldn't "get" how to hook up the vcr and now sees MOM in the mirror. laugh out loud



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Joined Oct 2015
R+/M+/FP Google voice
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they charge for MMS(RP) so you port your number to Google voice and voila!! SMS/MMS at no extra charges! I can assist with any of that. our whole family ported to GV and haven't looked back,!
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FreedomPop is a solid option, and you can use Hangouts with a Google Voice Number. Hangouts/GV supports MMS/Group Messaging and has no limits regarding talk/text. First two minutes of international calls are free as well. So basically, I suggest using Hangouts/GV instead of the FreedomPop Application.

I know some good deals if you want to PM. I'd recommend the Moto E for a low budget phone or the LG G2 if you wanted a much better device at a still minimal cost.

You can use Hangouts/GV on Windows/Mac OS X/Linux/ChromeOS as well in additional to mobile devices and even set-up your Google Voice Number to forward calls to other lines including physical home/cell phones. So you could have your phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, and home/work phone all ring simultaneously if you so desired.
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Do not get freedompop.
It is not real cell.
It goes over internet.
Call quality sucks.

Get ring plus.
Free calls and texts.
4cents per mms.
Real cell service.
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This can be a very informative thread that can help a lot of people like Jennifer (OP). By the looks of her post, it seems she's taken time to do some research and thought.

So Jennifer (and others), I think the first step would be to familiarize yourself with RingPlus (R+). In a nutshell, R+ is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) under the Sprint network. Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, & FreedomPop are 'sister' MVNOs under Sprint as well. It would be wise to consider the quality of Sprint coverage in your area. Can anyone in the New Jersey area chime in here???

If you check the R+ site, you'll see that they have paid plans and some "free" plans which require a top-up plus taxes/fees (think deposit). Every 1.5-2 weeks or so, R+ offers a new free plan which usually requires either/or top-up, new line activation, social media requirement. Here are the current
"free" plans []. The Truly Free 2 plan is truly free if you bring your own device (BYOD).

Let's take a look at the Sunny plan; for a $5 top-up+taxes/fees, you get 500 cell minutes/500 texts/500MB mobile data per month. This is very minimal and in my opinion, would only be for a secondary phone (or 4th, 5th, 6th, phone for someone like myself that likes to have extra phone lines but not like to pay monthly). If you go over, within your monthly billing cycle, the 500 allotment of either cell minutes, texts or MegaBytes of data, you will be charged. The charges for overages are $0.03 per min/text/MB and will be deducted from your top-up (remember that deposit you put down when you activated the line)?

An important thing to note here is that those 500 text messages do not include Multimedia Message Service (MMS) which is what you want for sending pictures. For EVERY picture message (MMS) that you either send or receive, you will ALWAYS be charged $0.04 from your top-up. If you send/receive 125 MMS messages, you will have depleted your $5 top-up and another $5 top-up will be charged to your credit card on file. Just remind yourself that you're charged $0.04 to send/receive pictures.

Currently, the Endless Summer plan would fit the bill, but there have been plans that included as much as 4000 each minutes/text (not MMS)/MB. Think about your minimums in terms of minutes/text/MB and aim for a plan that includes 2-3 times that in case your needs change down the road. Also, there is a very good chance to upgrade your plan in the future. How many pictures are you sending? $25/month budget at 4 cents per picture is quit a lot; if you're going over $25 worth of MMS, you may consider emailing them and using some of those free MBs of data each month.

Getting a R+ Phone
Prior to 4/17/2016, the trend was to buy new, inexpensive pre-paid phones from Best Buy, Target, Amazon, (not Walmart). They had to be branded by either Boost, Virgin, or Sprint to work on R+ since they all operate on the Sprint network. Before opening the package, you would take the IMEI [] numbers (imagine fingerprint for a cell phone) from the outside of the box and enter it on the R+ site to activate a new line. With just the IMEI number, you could check if a phone would work with R+. Some of these phones were as cheap as $10, but the decent phones were about $30-$60. The Moto E is my phone of choice for R+.

After 4/17/2016, Sprint required that all pre-paid phones be activated on their respective carriers for a minimum of 12 months before being able to be used on another MVNO such as R+. Basically, that was an end to NEW CHEAP phones to activate on R+. The alternatives seem to be:

1) Buy used from ebay/Craigslist and risk buying a phone that hasn't been used on a paid account for 12 months

2) Buy from the R+ store (probably the least expensive & safest bet)

3) Buy a new phone at full price such as an iPhone 5s, 6, 6s, etc. The phone would have to be compatible on the Sprint network. By full price, it could not be subsidized by a 12-month usage requirement (like the cheap pre-paids mentioned above).

For every R+ deal, there is a SlickDeals thread. Each thread has an extensive Wiki on R+ that is worth reading over. A lot of it is repetitive, but it beats trying to read the actual thread itself, which seems to full of repeated questions. I hope I have been able to answer a few questions for you and not insult your intelligence at the same time. I am no expert, but spent a lot of time doing my own research while trying to separate fact from speculation.

I encourage others to chime in. I'd like someone to explain Google Voice

Other notes:
R+ is notorious for little or no customer support. We're all on our own here at the cost of not having a recurring phone bill.

You can port your current number into R+. Since I've never done it, it seems like a hairy process. Yet, quite a few others have done so with success. Usually a charge deducted from your top-up.

You can swap your phone for another one down the road. Usually a charge from your top-up.

R+ is ad-driven; you hear ads/songs/news clips when you dial someone as opposed to ringing.

Some users reported an annoying delay (latency) when talking. This is a good reason to verify coverage quality in your area.

If you can acquire a cheap phone that qualifies for R+, activate it on the Truly Free 2 Plan to test it out.

-Question, corrections, additions, constructive comments are all welcome
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Here's something I should read someday involving Google Voice, Hangouts, etc so I can send MMS for free:

You might need to be logged in to read it.
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Joined Nov 2003
Why I *can't* do laundry:
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Original Poster
I apologize for my lack of response. My 88yo father fell ill and I only checked SD for replies on a mattress purchase I made recently as I have yet to receive a shipping notice.

Thank you so much for all of your replies! I have been able to read them through and have one follow-up question atm:

Do FP and R+ work solely on WIFI or can they convert to cellular when no WIFI is available like Republic Wireless?

A HUGE thanks to jaymez619 for taking the time to familiarize the ignorant with MVNOs - especially R+!!! worship These steps are exactly what I need if I go forward with R+!!!
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