Putting together an article comparing consumer products & services requires a certain amount of scientific approach. But at the core of any article is a grain of perception. Perception leads to comments that aren’t always facts, but are more like details of personal experience. Given good taste, those insights can educate as well as facts, at appropriate times. Personally, through the years, I’ve tried all major, and many underdog cellphone, then smartphone services. Today’s article is a mix of giants, with non-traditional carriers. You won’t believe who actually snapped the first place… As far as the constants & the variables, some good common things to compare between all the carriers are the price, coverage, data limits, options versus features, contractual obligations, smart-devices, public rating, and most importantly, overall promise/potential. That explains away the cluster of source links throughout this article. Also, ultimately, the first place must go on to a young pioneer, someone who people want to believe might hold the key to what our wireless phone, and smart-data services should be. The only thing that would do is an industry-disruptive service, for the way out of the west & into the future. Read on for a small, but an insightful exclusive interview with the top US wireless carrier on our list. Giants don’t qualify for the first place because if consumers would vote for the biggest pocket in business alone, then we would be seen as satisfied, & during these hectic, chaotic times, all major wireless services are running shows in the digital wild west era. As far as the good news, one company is trying to stir things up. I hope this article informs you about the quality of services you already know, and maybe shows some options you didn’t think existed. Enjoy the read.
#5 Sprint Corporation
NYSE: S Source. I’m very hesitant about giving high ratings to companies following contractual models. However, knowing Sprint ventured out into allowing options of prepaid talk & data models, and even investing in the freemium (I will explain later), this carrier is hard to overlook. Offering wireless solutions from low-budget to smart business solutions, Sprint is a solid major provider of wireless services to many happy consumers. It is a sure company to see in the 10G future. A little over 53 million Americans are using this service today, this clarity in numbers is hard to overlook. Source
Price: Range from prepaid talk/data with smart devices, to contractual offers.
Rating/Reviews: PCMag gave latest IPhone 5 with Sprint 4/5 overall. (Source) Top 4 Wireless Provider by Top Ten Reviews
Customer Service: Not doing too well at the moment, according to their own customer service community on their website, they score 1.6/5 right now. (Source)
Smart Devices: 70+ supported smart devices. Wide range includes Apple, HTC, Keyoserra, Dell PCs, Nextel style exclusives. Source
NYSE: T Source. One, last giant for the list. I think much like Sprint, this Goliath offers a range array of digital provider, & content services. They offer their wireless services for 48 smart devices (Source) at the present moment. Their solutions vary by budget also. An example of their budget plan is $2 Daily Unlimited. This service includes activating your own smart device like Iphone5S with AT&T, & only pay $2 for the days when you activate it. In the days you use your device, you get unlimited talk, data, email, messaging. And yes, you can use your number. (Source) Other services go up to business class tools and IP options. In my opinion, because they are so huge, they are able to bundle (Source) many digital services, like TV, IP, VOIP, as well as continuing to invest in large website giants, like Yahoo Source, they simply seem to have more money to pass on to consumer loyalties, more than other giants like the T-Mobile, for example, again, in my opinion. As far as the customer service quality, I took a note of a Cnet public rating of how AT&T was migrating previous Cingular costumers, almost regular for a giant, they got a poor 2/5 on that job. 875 people rated, & 371 of them chose to give the company a 1 star, the lowest possible rating. (Source) It is solely because of data like that, I acknowledge AT&T as the 4th top wireless provider, but not the first. Once again, it’s not advanced enough to push the boundaries of wireless. They play a regular tune, that works, but doesn’t push the envelope of wireless ingenuity. The core number of nearly 108 million US service users, the second largest US customer base on the wireless market, is once again, hard to overlook. Source
#3 Leap Wireless
This position was a tough choice between Straight-Talk Wireless and Cricket. Cricket & ST are very similar, mostly prepaid based models. I call them semi-disruptive, because while they don’t push the envelope to the great heights, they offer a clearer option range, good prices, bring your own phone models, all without commitments. That’s a first step in disrupting the lock-down nightmares many Americans find themselves in. In between Cricket & ST, it came down to Cricket having top 7 US customers at around 4.5 million. Source Today, cricket offers a clear choice of “unlimited” talk, data, messaging at around $50. Source However, the reason this isn’t #1, the unlimited data is actually limited to 2.5GB a month, for the fast stream data, a number that looks very much unlike unlimited to me, in my personal opinion. More data will cost more. Source Much like ST, Leap/Cricket offers you a choice of buying their smart-device, or try to bring yours (fees apply, limited options), ranging from the latest IPhone 5 S/C, to Android HTC One, or Samsung Galaxy. If you wish to bring your own phone, their source told me that it wouldn’t work on latest IPhones, they would need to “flash” your device at a store, and it’s not free. (Protected Source). Cricket trying to lock people on their own phones is a big reason I can’t rate it higher. As counter positives, they offer most latest models at a discounted price. Source As far as media reviews, Cnet 2013 Holiday Gift Guide, wrote a review article about Cricket’s price to device advantages over Verizon, and AT&T, this review positively receives the new Cricket holiday campaign called “Half Is More”. Source
Many people don’t know that this is one of the major providers. According to the TopTenReviews.com article, AIO gained the 6th top overall score; Competing in hundreds of different fields. From data to customer service quality. According to AIO site, they promise a true bring-your-own-phone model. In fact, they sell purely service. Source Split between three pay tiers: Basic $40 includes only basic phones & limited 250MB data cap. Smart $55 includes any phone and a 2GB high-speed data cap. Regular speed data has no cap, according to HowardForums. Lastly, AIO Pro gives you 7 GB high-speed data for $70, on any phone, no contract. Source Other, lucrative add-ons include a gig for $10, and $5 accidental damage protection for your device. Source HowardForums confirms that besides having the high-speed limit, AIO is a one true company with no cap on data. Being it non high-speed, it’s better to know you can use as much as you can. Source
Although this is an AT&T brand, AIO represents a completely different wireless company. For example, HowardForums shows AIO in their poll results, rated against AT&T GoPhone, Net 10, H20, RedPocket, and other services. According to the result, AIO claimed the 2nd largest tier of customers, only behind the GoPhone brand. 15.79% of all polled claimed to use AIO. Source Lastly, Jessica Dolocourt of CNet, overall compared it to a T-Mobile model with a “no-contract angle” as a pro, and no 4G LTE support, but high speed 4G as a con. Source Ultimately, my decision to place AIO in number 2 was due to it having so many users despite it launching not too long ago, being a relatively very young company.
#1 FreedomPhone from FreedomPop
My first place must go to a service that can truly be called industry disruptive. In fact, this is such a young wireless phone idea, it’s only in the beta stages, with a phone release launched & fulfilled from the beginning of October 2013, to now. Source So why am I placing an ongoing FreedomPhone beta release as already the Top Wireless Carrier? The answer is basic, this is the multi-billion dollar idea that favors the consumer, more than any other service ever offered. If you care to learn the details, I’m sure anyone can agree that having no FreedomPhone in the future would not be a good thing. I have a FreedomPhone now because I was one of the first to pay into the beta as a customer, & am anxious to explain to you what FreedomPhone is. But first, I would like to warn you that I want to review this company from my personal view as a current, limited customer…
FreedomPhone is an HTC Evo Design 4G 12GB, and HTC Evo 4G Android smartphones. Very nice recent phones capable of 4G, GPS, hepatic feedback, hotspot tethering, and much, much more. I was lucky to score the Design version in the first beta. So now: For a one (1) time price of the phone at around $200, this company will generously give you 1/2 GB data, 200 talk minutes, 500 texts, every single month, all completely free for the life of the phone you buy. No bills, & monthly charges, no contracts. Genuine groundbreaking, & disruptive. I hope I’m starting to make sense. Now, 1/2GB data isn’t enough for some of us. Of course, FreedomPhone offers more data at incredible price options, but what I like, they have secondary ways to get more. Again, completely free. First, I pulled up my Freedom Rewards, and chose to do a survey. For that, FreedomPhone generously added approximately 270 MB to my monthly data. I then tried a free app that I wanted to try sometime anyway, & I got 20 MB more. Then I looked over to my FreedomFriends page, it’s like a Facebook universe, but only included are the people using FreedomPop, the genius company behind FreedomPhone. So I see that several of my friends are having their monthly data expire, as they get a fresh batch of free data at month’s end, & they offer their monthly remainders to their friends, free. So those friends selected to give away data, I see that, and take 20 MB from one of them, leaving more data for more people. I don’t like to get greedy. FreedomFriends can also literally ask to give and get data from anyone in their circle in the Freedom Friends social network. It literally connects to Facebook, Twitter, and even G-mail, to find your friends, and even contacts who happen to use FreedomPop without you being aware. As far as refferals, whenever you refer a friend, you get 1/2GB instant thank you from FreedomPop. Between my offers I have 1.3 GB completely free this month. It’s truly nothing like any wireless customer has ever seen. Free talk, text, data, every single month, forever. Just buy the phone, which they often have deals on, I bought mine for $99. The State-Of-The-Art interactive features to constantly get more data for free, alone, or with friends, tops any wireless reward program, in this journalist’s view.
After the first beta release, FreedomPop launched another set of phones. This release is an HTC Evo 4G (amazing smartphone), for $99, with a choice of a basic $0/mo plan that includes 1/2GB data, 200 talk, 500 text I told you about. So how does this company plan to make any money? $99-$199 phones with unlimited for life voice, talk, text service, every month – sounds too good to be true. The answer is in the freemium model. To explain to you briefly: Like Dropbox, Evernote, or even Angry Birds. Source Best Freemium products find that a certain percentage of their users like the free service so much, they would feel good paying for some cool upgrades. Some good freemium companies are known to discover that over time, they can turn many of their existing users into paying clients. Clients who still save money compared to pay-for alternatives, while enjoying the main features for free. Busy people with smartphones is a good market full of wealthy Americans, so I believe this to be an instrumental insertion into the market, mark my word, it will disrupt many ideas we have about our wireless services. As long as the data is fast, the voice is clear, then the possibilities are limitless. Although FreedomPhone calls don’t run on LTE, they run on the next best thing, Sprint’s 4G network Source Additional upgrades of the FreedomPhone include rollover for $3.99. Security for $2.99/mo. 500 minutes, unlimited text is $7,99/mo. Unlimited talk with text is only $3 more, at $10.99. Then data wise, if your free Pro 1/2GB 4G/3G isn’t enough for your busy lifestyle, you can get additional Premium 2GB 4G/3G for $19.99/mo, or the Premium 4GB for $34.99/mo. With any additional free data overuse, you can stop auto-top up, meaning stop the service until your next free batch arrives, or keep your Internet running at 0.02 cents a minute for the free service, or at 0.015 cents if you subscribe to any Premium plan. Source Before, there was a $1/mo inactivity fee, but now FreedomPop no longer charges their customers for not using their devices in a month.
Lastly, I have scored a short, but an insightful interview with FreedomPhone public relations. These are the actual questions and answers provided for this article. So let’s start:
“2 part. A. Do you guys think, there is a possibility that in time, years possibly, FreedomPop can be an all digital service, activating phones live, to your freemium mod? B: Would this hypothetical possibly result in more data incentives for the public, if you were to stand major savings off process?”
“We do hope to expand the way we operate and it is possible that we will have an all digital service in the future. We do not have details on this yet, but keep an eye on our FB page for new news.
Yes, we do hope to offer more incentives as our company continues to grow. Currently we are still a young company and are constantly adjusting our services to meet our customers needs.”
What a great, cheerful, complete, & promising answer. What a great company. Readers, I will keep you posted with an update of the unboxing of FreedomPhone video, see it soon on our fb, twitter pages. Also, stay tuned to win a mini Android computer, the size of a flash drive. Stay tuned for more details. Thanks so much for reading.