Prepaid MP3-capable cellphone
April 12, 2008 4:53 PM   Subscribe

Looking for recommendations for a prepaid cellular service that has a cellphone that can play mp3s.

I have Virgin prepaid at the moment, but they only have one phone that can play MP3s and from what I've read it's terrible.

The phones available in stores around here are basic phones plus a few camera phones. I could not find one prepaid phone that could play mp3s. Verizone, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint are all available where I live and I'm open to any prepaid service running on their or other networks.

A big bonus would be a phone that doesn't require specialized software to transfer and manage files/works with linux.
posted by aerotive to Shopping (9 answers total)
I bought a refurbished Nokia 6085 under AT&T's prepaid Go Phone plan a few months ago for $30 via their online store. It's a very basic quad-band phone, with Bluethooth that can take a microSD card. It can play MP3 files, although I've not used this feature; I believe it requires a special phone<>3.5mm audio jack adapter to plug in a headphone. I use iSync on the Mac to transfer files via Bluetooth, and you can drop files onto the microSD card via a card reader as well.
posted by jaimev at 6:14 PM on April 12, 2008

You might consider also asking your question at Howard Forums. I think you'll find that the folks who hang out over there are much more knowledgeable about cell phones, carriers, and service plans then us. Don't let the scale of the forums intimidate you.
posted by RichardP at 6:20 PM on April 12, 2008

I know that T-Mobile prepaid offers a sim card (it's like 5 bucks) that will convert some of the "regular" T-Mobile phones over to pre-paid capabilty. Though I have not tried this yet, I was looking into it because I want a phone with a full keyboard to work with the pre-paid. I have been very happy with T-Mobile prepaid, and they are one of the cheapest pre-paid plans around. You might want to go in to one of the T-Mobile stores and ask about this sim card and which phones it will work with. Buying a new phone will cost you since you won't get the deals you do when you sign up for a contract, but if you find out which models will work, you can hunt one down on ebay or whatever.
posted by coollibrarian at 6:48 PM on April 12, 2008

with a tmobile prepaid sim card you could also just buy an unlocked gsm phone and pop the sim into it..
posted by majikstreet at 7:12 PM on April 12, 2008

Yes, with AT&T or T-Mobile, you can get a prepaid SIM card and put it into just about any GSM phone that you like. You could switch phones to match your outfit, if you wanted - your "account" is on the SIM, so as long as the phone is not "locked" to another carrier, they don't care what phone you use. Shop for GSM phones on ebay or wherever - if you prefer one carrier over another, feel free to get a phone that's locked to that carrier, and/or you can get it unlocked in various ways.
You can't do this with Sprint or Verizon - their equivalent of a SIM card is built into the phone itself, so you can't switch.
Oh, and just about all mp3-capable phones are equipped with a slot for a microSD card - there's no extra fussing with linux if all you need to do is drag/drop files onto the storage card. Many will allow pass-through access to the card which works with linux - connect the phone with card inside via USB, and linux just sees the storage card as a volume/device and ignores the phone. Worst case, you have to take the card out, put it in a card reader/adapter then put your files on it.
(Some phones put the SD card in an awkward spot, like behind the battery, so beware).
I had a sturdy T-Mobile RIZR Z3 that worked fine, including bluetooth stereo playback for mp3s and a pretty good camera, but I don't remember whether linux did the pass-through trick on it or not.
posted by bartleby at 7:31 PM on April 12, 2008

I'm on an AT&T prepaid plan with my iPhone. The plan is pretty awful. If you don't really care about using data (because it's way expensive) and your minutes usage is low, you can use iLiberty+ to use the iPhone with any prepaid AT&T SIM. My plan is an actual iPhone plan for various reasons that I won't get into but you can use the phone with non iPhone SIMs.
posted by moof at 9:25 PM on April 12, 2008

yeah, most plans charge a penny-per-kilobyte or more for data on prepaid plans. Which doesn't seem like much until you discover that the 1MB free ringtone download you did just cost you $10.24 for data. So stick to calls and self-loaded music.
posted by bartleby at 8:30 PM on April 13, 2008

Seconding whoever suggested getting a t-mobile to go sim card (you can find them for pretty cheap on ebay) and then buying whatever unlocked GSM phone you want. Make sure to get one that can connect to your pc (eg uses a usb cable, or has bluetooth)
posted by vegetableagony at 7:46 PM on April 26, 2008

Response by poster: I ended up getting an iphone and am currently using it with a prepaid AT&T SIM and plan. I may switch to tmobile if I can get them to give me a local area code & number.
posted by aerotive at 4:53 PM on June 11, 2008

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