Phone for a Dandy Man
November 23, 2012 6:31 PM   Subscribe

I have a Fancy Cousin who uses Virgin Mobile pre-paid, and my Fancy Cousin would like to get a new Android phone during this weekend's sales. A few questions:

- Is there a reason my Fancy Cousin should buy direct from Virgin Mobile, or will any phone he buys work? Is there something specific the phone would need to work on Virgin Mobile?

- What is a good mid-range model? My Fancy Cousin would like something that's around $200. An older model is fine (he says, foppishly), but something with good battery life and responsiveness is key. He says he would like one of Google's own models, if possible.

- Which online retailer is likely to have the best deal?
posted by Greg Nog to Technology (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
- Any phone he buys should work, assuming the phone is an HSPA phone he can slip a new SIM card in.
- I would definitely encourage / urge one of Google's own models without carrier bloatware. You're going to get a purer experience and stay on the current versions of Android, which are miles better than the ones most phones ship with. At that price point, I'd look at the Galaxy Nexus. It's my daily carry phone, it's on the most current version of Android (and should continue to be for a while, it's still relatively fresh). Pretty good camera, totally responsive, good battery life with the extended battery.
- I'd look for reputable sellers on eBay. You can probably get a new one with the smaller HD size for around $200.
posted by Apropos of Something at 6:41 PM on November 23, 2012

Is there something specific the phone would need to work on Virgin Mobile?

Yes. Virgin's network (specifically, the bit of Sprint's network that it uses) is restricted to the phones it sells. That's its business model. Your options are these.

The HTC One V is pretty decent, well-built, runs ICS smoothly (though not Jelly Bean right now) and is on sale for $149; the Evo V is chunkier but a little bit more capable. The "Google's own" models (Nexus) won't work. The online deals may be the best you'll get right now.
posted by holgate at 6:45 PM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just activated my LG Optimus Elite and it's great as far as I'm concerned (I chose it because it's arguably the best one that I can grandfather in at my current $25/mo. rate).

I shopped around quite a bit; the prices everywhere basically track what Virgin sells things for, though Amazon's Prime shipping is faster than Virgin's free shipping.
posted by SMPA at 7:06 PM on November 23, 2012

I've got an HTC Evo V through Virgin Mobile and have no complaints. The battery charge lasts about two days with JuiceDefender and relatively economical usage, but that's using the original battery.
posted by thomas j wise at 7:13 PM on November 23, 2012

I think the Triumph and the Optimus Elite are higher end for Virgin Mobile, about $200. That's probably what he would be looking at. I also see that Virgin Mobile has just started selling the Samsung Galaxy S2 - a great phone for sure and on sale this weekend for $300.

I got the Kyocera Rise recently. Latest version of Android, decent specs, especially for the price. It have a qwerty physical keyboard, if he's into that. It's not perfect, but for less than $100, I would really recommend it for a budget phone. (And I'd recommend Virgin Mobile in general: $45 for 1200 minutes/month and unlimited text/data and you can cancel whenever you want. Can't beat it, really.)

If he uses Virgin Mobile, I don't think he can get something like a Google Nexus. He needs to get a phone that Virgin Mobile offers. You can buy them from retail stores if they have sales, but I've always bought off Virgin Mobile's website. Shipping takes like 3 days and is free. Target, for example, sold the Kyocera Rise for $30 on Black Friday, but a sales clerk said each store only got like five phone each and it's not sold on Target's website. So, you can try to bargain hunt. But best bargains I've gotten have been on VM's website and I've been a VM customer for like 6 years. Your options:
posted by AppleTurnover at 7:30 PM on November 23, 2012

I have Virgin but not Android, so I can't speak to that. However, as far a cost goes, when I was shopping around for a new Virgin phone (and looked at all the models), one thing I noticed that there was not a whole lot of advantage to buying outside of Virgin.

I also have Amazon prime and all that and even with AP, it did not change the cost that much. In the end, I opted to pay the extra dollar or so and wait and extra day so I could absolutely say to Virgin that I had one of their phones that they sold to me to get around any issues should there be an issue. While it never has been a major problem with Virgin, their support is at times, a bit dicey.

While in the end, I always get what I need, at the same time I do have to spend a lot of time on the phone with them to get things right...and as it appears the outsource support to places all over the world, language issues can often be present. Bottom line, better to get as many issues out of the way by sticking with Virgin equipment than have try to explain where you got the stuff.

For me the bottom line was a $20 phone with a $30 plan/mo (1500mins|1500msg |30mbdata) and it does everything I need it to do.
posted by lampshade at 8:39 PM on November 23, 2012

None of the Google Nexus line works on Virgin Mobile. I suggest he jump to Straight Talk which is also a prepaid MVNO. Any phone that takes a SIM card will work, even if locked to AT&T or Tmobile.
posted by wongcorgi at 9:12 PM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have a Virgin Mobile prepaid account. My phone is an Optimus Elite. I've had it for a year and bought it at Best Buy for 100 dollars. You are probably aware that it's 50 dollars this weekend at Best Buy. It's a good phone. I've had no problems except that I get the same email message twice on one of my Gmail accounts. Once on a white screen when it is new and then a few minutes later on a black screen. If anybody knows how to fix this, I'd appreciate it.
posted by Fairchild at 6:15 AM on November 24, 2012

No! Don't listen to the SIM card talk - Virgin mobile is CDMA, not GSM.

CDMA phones *do not* have SIM cards and you can't switch carriers. You HAVE to buy a virgin mobile phone for it to work, even other carriers on the same network (sprint, net10, etc) won't do.

I have the Optimus Elite, it's a fine phone.
posted by zug at 9:39 AM on November 24, 2012

Fairchild, is it possible that you have a general email app on your phone, which is linked to your Gmail account, and then a Gmail app as well, which is why you get the email twice?

If so, try removing one of the apps.

(I think I had this problem a long time ago on my Optimus V, but I can't remember. If so, that's what I did, I believe...)
posted by lewedswiver at 11:04 AM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

lewedswiver, this question finally motivated me to really investigate the problem and that is exactly what the problem was. I removed one of the apps. Finally fixed after months and months of torture! Thank you!
posted by Fairchild at 11:22 AM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

If the sprint network works for Fancy Cuz, I would look at
posted by Sleddog_Afterburn at 12:45 PM on November 25, 2012

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