I want to buy a Palm Pre. Verizon or Sprint?
February 10, 2010 8:20 AM   Subscribe

I want to buy a Palm Pre. Verizon or Sprint?

Currently I use a T-Mobile prepaid phone. I make most of my phone calls through Google Voice and my computer, which keeps my costs down to about $17/month, including tax. Obviously I'm looking at a big jump, but I'm currently a light user of voice services, and even lighter during the day. I've assembled what seem to be the salient details of the offerings I'm considering from the two carriers. I've tried to include fees and charges unilaterally assessed by the carriers when possible. Here's what we have:

base charge: $69.99/month
  14.1% universal service fee
  0.47% "Washington State Business & Occupancy Fee"
  $1.99 "administrative charge"
  $0.40 "regulatory charge"
total charge: $82.58 + taxes
$249.99 phone + taxes
-$100 rebate
total charge over 24 months: $2132 + taxes (assuming I get the rebate)
early termination fee: $200

Palm Pre (8 GB)
web coverage tool broken so I can't check coverage
450 minutes anytime
unlimited calls to mobiles on any carrier
unlimited text messaging
unlimited calls nights and weekends 7 p.m. onward
base charge: $74.98/month
  14.1% universal service fee
  $0.07 "regulatory charge"
  $0.92 "administrative charge"
total charge: $86.54 + taxes
$184.99 phone/activation fee + taxes
total charge over 24 months: $2262 + taxes
early termination fee: "up to $350"

Palm Pre Plus (16 GB)
full broadband coverage in my area (Seattle)
450 minutes anytime
unlimited calls to mobiles on Verizon only
250 text messages
unlimited calls nights and weekends 9 p.m. onward
So far, I prefer the Verizon option above, mainly because it gets me the Pre Plus. Sprint is slightly cheaper but less so after you include their greater penchant for cloaking the cost of service as a small-print fee, and their use of rebates with tight redemption windows. Since I'm not on the air talking for 450 minutes a month anyway already, I'm not too cnocerned about the smaller window for free evening calls, and I'll probably want to make my calls through Google voice so the unlimited calls to mobiles won't be that useful.

I have zero experience with Sprint or Verizon, so is there anything else that I'm not considering? Things that should make me lean more towards one side or the other?
posted by grouse to Technology (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I vote for Verizon. My experience has been that they provide the best coverage and service of all the American providers. You're in a big metro so that might not make such a difference for you. Just the same, I've heard so much good word-of-mouth about Verizon that it's hard for me to recommend anything else. Admittedly I haven't used them myself, but I will be switching to the Big V in June after much dissatisfaction with AT&T.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 8:27 AM on February 10, 2010

As a Verizon customer for many years, I will say that they really do have the best coverage. In the middle of WV I have gotten a signal to make a call (and that was on an older phone several years ago).

My nonprofit has employees across the entire state of PA and we went with Verizon for our company plan because it was the only one that wasn't constantly dropping calls all over the place or hitting the dreaded dead zones.

Yeah, they are kinda pricey, but they really did build the network, as I've learned over the past year in my crash-course in telecom for my job.

I know there are horror stories of verizon customer service, but everyone has bad customer service. I've done my share of that work and you don't get paid a lot and put with a lot of crap. Some people just don't care. Don't let that scare you from verizon.

OTOH, verizon has been very good to me about stuff that's gone wrong with any phone i've had, replacing batteries for free and the like, even before i was on the company plan.
posted by sio42 at 8:30 AM on February 10, 2010

I have a Sprint Pre (first gen). I am very happy I purchased replacement insurance, FWIW; I'm on my second one. If you're buying the Pre for the apps, be wary. I bought my Pre last July, and I still only have three apps - there just aren't very many compared to what I can put on my iPod Touch.

I've been a Sprint customer for a long, long time, and I'm really happy with the $99 everything plan. Customer service has improved incalculably over the past three years, both in-store and on the phone. I know several people who've had Verizon and hated it, but I don't have personal experience with their service.
posted by catlet at 8:31 AM on February 10, 2010

If you can get ahold of a Sprint employee's information (it's not too hard to find on the web if you search), you can sign up for Sprint's Everything Plus plan, which is $59.99 and has 500 minutes and unlimited text/data. Also, Sprint has pretty hefty discounts for having a particular employer or being a member of a credit union.
posted by zsazsa at 8:32 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sprint's Everything Plus plan, which is $59.99 and has 500 minutes and unlimited text/data.

It appears this is now available for the Pre, making the cost with Sprint $71.12/month + taxes or $1857 + taxes for a 24-month period. That does change the equation.

If you're buying the Pre for the apps, be wary.

I'm not buying it for "apps" in general, but for a specific application which already exists—Classic, which will allow me to run my old-school Palm software on the Pre. Without it, I would not be making this purchase.
posted by grouse at 8:40 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've also had Sprint for many years and have no serious complaints. Yes they are an evil soulless corporation from the deepest hells of sunken R'lyeh but then who isn't? And their customer service has really improved recently as noted by catlet. When my Palm - not a Pre, the one before that - got broken about a week after I bought it, one of the store employees really went to bat for me and got it completely replaced at no charge, even though it was arguable that the breakage was my fault. I have never had any trouble with dropped calls and gotten service even while hiking in the mountains, which is nothing short of miraculous around here.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:42 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, for all the calls on verizon coverage advantage... When my Sprint Palm Pre leaves sprint territory, I am allowed to roam for free on the verizon network. Full web access and speeds as well. So don't base it on coverage, with sprint you get coverage of sprint + verizon.
posted by ShootTheMoon at 8:59 AM on February 10, 2010

my girlfriend has a Pre on Sprint. her only complaints have NOT been with the carrier, but with the phone breaking on a fairly regular basis. now, she's not the most careful person in the world as far as carrying and storing it are concerned, so that might be why. but, as an anecdotal data point: she likes the phone when it's not broken, and sprint has done right by her re: warranty replacements and repairs. sprint's network, at least in NYC, has been fine.
posted by shmegegge at 9:06 AM on February 10, 2010

I switched from verizon to sprint when the Pre first came out and verizon didn't have any smart phone i actually liked(i really don't like the exposed keyboard on blackberries). I have been very happy with them and actually get better coverage (I am in the Willamette Valley) than I had with Verizon. The apps were pretty limited when I first got it but they have been adding more steadily. I have repeatedly dropped my phone and not been real careful in general and no problems at all (yet). Spring also has a new service that allows the pre to be used as a mobile wifi hotspot for about 40 more a month, which is cheaper than broadband from most providers.
posted by bartonlong at 9:06 AM on February 10, 2010

If the "classic" apps that you are interested in using on the Pre are network or mass storage (SD card) aware, make sure to do the research to find out if those features will work in the Classic environment.
posted by reddot at 9:24 AM on February 10, 2010

posted by rbs at 9:24 AM on February 10, 2010

I have a Pre on Sprint and am in the Seattle, no issues.

Also you can get the Pre much cheaper than $250 (or $150 after rebate). Amazon has it for $79.
posted by wongcorgi at 9:44 AM on February 10, 2010

Also, if you don't use a lot of data and don't mind a bit of hacking, you can get the Pre on PagePlus, which is a Verizon MVNO.

You can get 1,200 Minutes / 1,200 SMS/MMS / 50 MB Data for $30/month w/o contract.
posted by wongcorgi at 9:48 AM on February 10, 2010

I have a Pre on Sprint and I am more or less happy with it. I have a lot of apps installed and am only using 4GB, so the extra storage on the Plus isn't much incentive for me. What I would love, though, is the extra RAM. Apparently the Plus can have many more card open simultaneously. On Sprint, I get the "too many cards" error fairly often. Just having email, chat, and a few browser cards open can be enough to set it off.
posted by indyz at 10:23 AM on February 10, 2010

You may qualify for an employee discount with either or both carriers, depending on who you work for. Worth checking out.
posted by puritycontrol at 10:25 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wow, what a great tip, puritycontrol. With the employee discount, Verizon is now $71.94 monthly (after charges, before taxes), and only $150 initially. That's down to $1877 over the 24-month period, making it pretty close to the Sprint employee referral plan. For an additional $105 I can get a one-year contract instead. I'm not sure how much a difference that makes since the phones aren't really that portable between carriers, right?

Sprint does not appear to have a discount for my employer.
posted by grouse at 10:43 AM on February 10, 2010

I have a Palm Pre through Sprint and I can echo the majority of things said in this thread.
The initial build quality of the Pre was very hit-or-miss but I am assuming that it has improves since release a bit, I had to replace my phone once.

I applied using my credit union (Alliant out of Chicago, had to register in a PTA to be able to open an account) and received a 25% discount (~$17/mo) but the price is roughly similar. I pay $68 for unlimited data and 450 minutes with insurance ($7/mo). Although that's more hassle than needed if he employee program is available for it finally, which if I'm reading correctly it is...
I'd personally base my decision on whether you want the Palm Pre Plus or the original.

I've never had reception trouble with Sprint in Seattle fwiw.
posted by EsotericAlgorithm at 9:14 PM on February 10, 2010

EsotericAlgorithm, the $59.99 Everything Plus Referral Plan has always been available for the Pre. I have had Everything Plus for my Pre since launch day. What doesn't work with the Pre is the old, much-lauded $30 SERO plan.
posted by zsazsa at 10:43 AM on February 11, 2010

I have an additional question. I currently use Google Voice and plan to continue doing so. Is it convenient enough to know when e-mail is coming in (via Gmail) that I can get my SMS messages via e-mail and dispense with receiving them directly to the phone? Then I could save an extra $5/month.
posted by grouse at 7:42 PM on February 13, 2010

The problem with checking your e-mail instantaneously is that it drains the batteries pretty quickly. So I ended up getting the $5/month SMS package so that I still could get SMSes quickly without running out of juice within hours.
posted by grouse at 6:11 PM on June 14, 2010

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