Yes, it's AT&T's customer service again. Also their PRICING. But also: the world has changed a little bit.
Two years ago, the iPhone was the best smartphone by about 1,000 miles. Now we have Android. And I have loved my iPhone. And I have very much wanted a iPad. And one day I was looking around at tablets, and seeing if there is anything out there that is cheaper and better than an iPad. (Short answer: You can evidently get an eBook reader of your choice, like the cheapish Nook, and install Android on it, and BOOM you have a really cheap tablet that works pretty well. It's no iPad, or even Xoom or whatever. Also: in a few years this post is going to sound so ridiculously dated.)
And suddenly I realized. This is not the world I grew up in, where your choice is either an expensive and AWESOME Apple product that comes in one form (ONE laptop, ONE phone, ONE desktop computer, and maybe a few sizes of each if you're lucky) or a much cheaper and HORRIBLE Windows product that comes in a thousand different forms. (Tons of Windows 7 phones, plenty of incredibly cheap laptops, et cetera.) Because Apple is super-proprietary, and Windows lets anyone put it on their hardware, so for any given product you have lots of great hardware choices with a shitty OS on them or ONE great hardware choice with a great OS.
This is a world Android has changed. In which your choices are basically ONE Apple product, or a trillion Windows products that suck, OR A TRILLION ANDROID PRODUCTS THAT VARY FROM EHHH TO AWESOME.
I still struggled with the idea of getting an Android phone. I realized that it would make sense if I wanted to eventually get an Android tablet, because of course I want my computer to talk to my phone. (Although I will grant you that my phone and tablet wouldn't talk to my laptop. But this laptop is already 5 years old and makes funny noises in the hard drive region despite a recently replaced hard drive, and... don't get me started about planned obsolesence.)
But I am loyal to Apple! I have been loyal to Apple for most of my life! AAAAPPPPPPLLLLE!!! How could I switch away?
Then I remembered that Android is GOOGLE.
I love Google! It fills the same place in my brain: Apple is to Windows as Google is to horrible Yahoo and MSN. For a while I was always getting them confused, in fact, Apple and Google.
Now it's easy! I can just switch the loyalty thing in my brain over to Android!
But what is the point? Is there an Android phone that comes with a better and cheaper carrier than AT&T?
So I was looking at what the best Android phone was. (Right now, probably the HTC EVO, fyi. god, I want that huge touchscreen and EIGHT megapixel camera.) And how expensive the plans were. (Expensive.) And I thought to see what Android phones Boost had. And Google was like "Have you checked out Virgin Mobile?" And I was like "Oh my god, I forgot Virgin Mobile even EXISTED. They don't advertise!" Then I remembered they were my first carrier and I was like "How did I forget that?"
They have Android phones now. Including a pretty good one they just got: the LG Optimus. 3.2 megapixel camera. (It's no 8mp, but my iPhone has a TWO megapixel camera, and the lens is flush with the surface of the phone so it's all scratched and blurry.)
And if I wanted to, I could use it as a wireless hotspot, so in theory I could have a tablet, or even the current laptop, run off of the wifi that the phone generates. (The "in theory" is because supposedly, and very likely, that is in violation of The Rules. No phone company likes it when you use their phone as a wireless hotspot/"tether" with it. Uses a ton of data and doesn't get them any more money. I still did it with the Samsung Blackjack; now I just have to remember how I argued the ethics of it in my head. I think my argument was probably that I would be HAPPY to pay for tethering if foul AT&T would just give me that option, but their website offered it to me for literally like a second and then it disappeared.)
The app store is comparable to Apple's now, which was one of my big barriers before. The Android app store is growing like crazy, and every app I like that I've looked for so far is on it. Most of mine are not paid apps, either, so I don't have to worry about paying a ton of money to replace apps I already have. (And the ones that are paid are worth much more to me than 99 cents, so paying a total of $1.98 for each one over time is not a big deal.)
It comes with basically no memory, but you can add up to 32gb - compare that to the 8 gigs that my iPhone allows. Plus, it acts like a camcorder without me having to scour the app store for a camcorder app that goes with my particular phone - which is what I have to do since the iPhone 3GS was not meant to record video. (Despite the fact that the hardware totally records video just fine.)
The battery has a talk time of about 11 hours. More than twice what the HTC EVO says it has. (I forget what my iPhone gets you, but I don't think it's any 11 hours.) Well okay: it's supposed to have 11 hours, but CNET said it did 5.5 hours in their tests. Ha.
The video records at 640x480, which is not quite the EVO's 720p, but pretty good all the same considering it's a PHONE. Someday I expect that we will see Hollywood-quality movies being made with people's cell phones. But not yet.
Screen is 3.2 inches, which is no EVO either but which is very good considering the whole phone is 3.5 inches. Compare THAT to the big swath of wasted space around the home button on my iPhone.
It might suffer from the 600mhz processor, compared to the 1gig (1000mhz) processor on super-high-end phones. But I watched a speed test of the phone and it seemed right in line with my own phone. One commenter pointed out, in discussion of the Optimus versus the Samsung Intercept, "The intercept is actually at a sizable disadvantage processor-wise. Even though it has an 800mhz processor, it doesn't have a Adreno 200 graphics chip, or a modem processor like the Optimus does. The intercept's 800mhz processor has to do it all. The Optimus also has twice the RAM the Intercept does. Even if they were both running the same 2.2 side by side the Optimus would be faster."
Okay, I think that's about it as far as the comparison goes. Good phone. People like to call it a cheap smartphone because it costs $150, or less if you find a good deal. But it's a good medium-high-end phone.
Now here is the really, really cool part. Are you ready?
With AT&T, right, for a SHARED 700 minutes (yes, that's SEVEN HUNDRED between two people, which we don't even use all of) per month, and unlimited texts/email/data, we pay about $193 a month.
With Virgin Mobile.... *drumroll please*
If we each got 300 minutes a month (SIX hundred between two people)... and unlimited texts/email/data....
We would pay $50 a month.
I guess if we bought the top-up cards at Target, we'd pay $55 including tax. On the other hand, Annie works there part-time now and gets a discount, so we would actually pay $46.64 after tax.
If we sprang for the FORTY DOLLAR a month charge for 1200 minutes, and just bought two of those every other month for 1200 minutes each, we'd be paying $37.32 a month after tax.
That means that for a phone just as good as our current phones - better, in practice, because it doesn't have a cracked case from years of uncased dropping, or in my case a still-crushed screen - we'd save about $156 a month.
$156 less a month!!!!!!!!
AND we'd never have to talk to AT&T's customer service again. I mean, unless something happened to the essentially unused (except for DSL) landline.