Using an iPhone for $7 a Month – Part 1

Check out my new video, its part 1 of my series to looking an low use / low cost prepaid wireless plans for smartphones.

Use an iPhone for $7 a Month?

Recently I noticed Straight Talk Wireless advertising smartphones plans for as low as $7 a month. This got me wondering if I could use an iPhone with this plan.

Tracfone’s Affordable Android Smartphones

I went the Tracfone website and found they sell several inexpensive Samsung, LG, Hauwei and ZTE android smartphones that range in price from $70 to $130 dollars. However they do not sell iPhones.

Bring Your Own Smartphone Program

I looked around the Tracfone web site and found out they have a Bring Your Own Smartphone, or BYOP program. Since Tracfone doesn’t sell the iPhone, I am going to bring my own iPhone when I sign up. You need to enter your phone’s serial number (MEID) into the website to see if your phone is compatible.If your phone is compatible, you’ll need to purchase a Network Access Code to register your phone on the Tracfone . network. Once your phone is registered, you can activate it and pick a service plan. Not all smartphones are compatible. Tracfone’s BYOP program requires a CMDA base smartphone. Verizon and Sprint smartphones use CDMA technology and may be compatible. AT&T and T-Mobile smartphones do not use CDMA technology and my guess is they are not compatible. So if you have a Verizon or Sprint smartphone, you can check the Tracfone website to see if your phone is compatible.

Service Plans

Tracfone offers Pay as You Go and Monthly Value Plans. All plans come with Talk, Text, and Data. Although the web site doesn’t say it, I am sure the data will be 3G and not 4G LTE

Tracfone Pay As You Go Plans

The Pay As You Go plans are for 90 days of Service. The plans are by the minute. They offer 60, 120, 200, and 400 minute plans. For each minute in the plan, you get a text message, and a MB of data. So a 60 minute plan comes with 60 text messages and 60MB of data. The 60 minute plan costs $19.99 before state sales tax, and any government or regulatory fees.This comes out to $6.66 for 30 days so I assume this is the $7 a month plan.

Tracfone Monthly Value Plans

The Monthly Values plans are for 30 days of service. The plans are also by the minute with 50, 125, and 200 minute plans. For each minute in the plan, you get a text message, and a MB of data. So a 50 minute plan comes with 60 text messages and 50MB of data The 50 minute plan cost $9.99, before state sales tax, and any government or regulatory fees.This comes out to about $10 a month.

Carryover Minutes

It looks as if the minutes carry over.

Triple Minutes When You Buy a Phone

Tracfone also offers a deal if you buy your smart phone from them the will triple your minutes when you pay for a 60 minute plan, they will give you 180 minutes. I don’t know if they offer any deals with the Bring Your Own Smartphone program yet.

Finding the Prepaid Wireless Plan that Fits Your Needs

On Smartphonematters, I usually spend most of my time discussing unlimited prepaid monthly wireless plans,  These plans cost over $40 a month and some with unlimited talk, text, and data. But what if you don’t need all that? What if you can’t afford it? You shouldn’t have to pay for an expensive cell phone plan. You shouldn’t have to use a basic or dumb phone, just because you choose a low use cell phone plan?. Many people, just need a phone for emergencies and quick calls they don’t need to use cellular data often because they have free Wi-Fi readily available. I for one am very happy to see these low cost tracfone plans for smartphones

Smartphones Are for Everyone

When you think about it, smartphones are amazing, They have many uses. It’s your phone. It’s a camera, great camera. They often take better pictures then the old point and shoot you use . It’s an internet device you can use to check your email, browse the web, stay connected with social networking. It’s a GPS device you can use to find your way when driving in your car. It’s a media player you can listen to music, watch movies, and TV shows. It’s a personal organizer. You can store your contacts, manage youe calendar, and organize your notes. It’s a portable gaming machine, you can use to have fun when you want to take a break. And with hundreds of thousands of 3rd party apps available in your smartphone’s app store, you can do all sorts of cool stuff. Even something as simple as using a flashlight app when you can’t see in the dark.  I myself like the loyalty card apps. I hate carrying those little fobs around on my keychain. I just load the stores app on my phone and when I go in I have the cashier scan my barcode directly from my screen.

Remember to Calculate Your Total Costs

If you already own a Verizon or Sprint smartphone you can check to see if it’s compatible with this plan. I didn’t have a phone to use, so I both a used Verizon iPhone 4s for $175 dollars. You need to remember to include the up front cost of your phone into your overall costs.

If I use my $175 dollar phone for 12 months it cost me an additional $14.60 a month and an additional $7.30 for 24 months Your total cost is the cost of your phone, plus the cost of your monthly service times the number of months you use the service for. If you divide the total cost by the number of months you use the phone and service for you’ll know the average monthly costs.

My New Used iPhone4s

I bought this used white 16 GB iPhone 4s from eBay for $175 shipped. I chose the iPhone 4s because I don’t think that the iPhone 5 models are compatible with Tracfone Wireless. I also chose the 4s over the iPhone 4 because the iPhone 4s will be upgradable to iOS 8 later this year where as the iPhone 4 is not.

My phone came in the original box. I’d say the overall condition of the phone is a 9 out of 10. There are no scratches or cracks on the front screen. The glass on the back has no cracks or scratches. The metal band around the edge is free from chips and dings. I also checked to make sure that the home and lock buttons are working properly.

If you are going to buy a used phone, read the description carefully. Note any problems with the phone. As the seller if there where any problems that were not disclosed in the listing.

Avoid any phone that has a bad ESN or is iCloud locked. You are going to have problems registering and using that phone. Don’t spend you money to buy someone else’s problem.

As I mentioned, my phone came in the original box. It also came with the original accessories, including the charger and sync and charge cable.

Make sure you understand what accessories are included, when you buy a used phone. If you have to replace them, you’ll have to add that cost to the total cost of the phone.

My phone it did not come with the headset. I wouldn’t want a used headset anyway. If I replace it, I’ll have to add that to the cost of the phone.

I also bought a new Apple iPhone 4 bumper case from eBay for $10 shipped. The case is new, in the original packaging and appears to be a real apple case.

What’s Next

My goal is to transfer a existing tracfone wireless phone number to this phone and pick the appropriate service plan. Please check back for the next update.

8 Comments

  1. Siggy Bladen | | Reply

    Do I get unlimited talk and tex on the $7.00 a month plan and if no just what do I get for $7.00?

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Hi Siggy,
      No. 60 minutes for 3 months.

      The Pay As You Go plans are for 90 days of Service. The plans are by the minute. They offer 60, 120, 200, and 400 minute plans. For each minute in the plan, you get a text message, and a MB of data. So a 60 minute plan comes with 60 text messages and 60MB of data. The 60 minute plan costs $19.99 before state sales tax, and any government or regulatory fees.This comes out to $6.66 for 30 days. This is the $7 a month plan.

  2. Kevin | | Reply

    You can also activate an AT&T phone with a SIM card from H2O. The sim cards for H2O are $1 on amazon. And you set up a PAY AS YOU GO account with H2O for $10 that is good for 90 days. Its all on the AT&T cell towers and it works fine. You will have very limited data and $0.05 texts, and costly per call service. But it is functional.

    With text you can check your bank accounts as most banks have a text service. You can also do text searches through a web inetrface (found one that still works). Or you can make short phone calls.

    You can also keep track of the location of the nearest Mcdonalds or Starbucks for free wifi service, where you can make free phone calls with three or four companies that offer that.

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Hi Kevin,
      I did an h20 review a few months ago. I liked the service, except for the lack of 4g lte. I think I mentioned their low cost plans, though I reviewed the 50 dollar plan.

      You are right about finding wifi. With FaceTime and Skype you can even make calls or voice chat over wifi. I wonder if there is an app that uses the gaps to help you find free wifi. There must be.

      Regards
      Bob

      • Kevin | | Reply

        I use a text search tool called SMIR.CH to search for the nearest Starbucks or McDonald’s. Or I use the paid WI-FI FINDER app with offline database to find the nearest free wifi.

  3. Aaron | | Reply

    So you think the service would be 3G at best with Tracfone?

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Hi Aaron,
      It is 3G. All prepaid wireless companies that use the Verizon network are 3G. Even Verizon’s prepaid network. I have the tracfone working. Working on part II.

      Regards
      Bob

  4. Aaron | | Reply

    Excited to hear your conclusion.

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